Have you ever wondered what design decisions might take your garden to the next level? Whether you’re into gardening and enjoy pottering around pruning bushes and planting flowers, or prefer a low-maintenance space just to kick back and relax, a garden water feature may be just what your garden needs.

If you’ve been considering adding a water feature, but aren’t sure what type to choose, whether it’s worth it, and what installation entails, keep reading to learn why people are raving about garden water features this year.


What are the different types of water features?

There’s a water feature to suit gardens of every shape, size, and style. They can be big or small, simple or elaborate, add drama or subtle beauty to your garden. Here are the most common types of water features:


Fish Ponds

Any kind of pond can be turned into a fish pond provided they’ll be able to live safely in the water, which means you’ll need it to be deep enough for them to overwinter without freezing, have some rocks or other areas to find shelter from predators, and enough water to stay chemically balanced. A local aquatic shop will be able to advise you further here.

Goldfish, koi, and golden tench are popular, and smaller varieties of goldfish won’t outgrow smaller ponds. If you have the space, a large koi pond with a deck or wooden bridge will always be a pleasure to sit by and watch.

Fish Ponds

Water Garden

A water garden is an outdoor space that uses water for ornamental effect. They originated in ancient Egypt where royals channelled water from the river Nile into their gardens. These gardens were home to sacred lotus plants which they also used for medicine. Today, water gardens include everything from gentle waterfalls to ultra-modern channels with carefully placed stone steps.

Water Garden

Reflecting Pools

Reflecting pools normally serve as the central feature of a garden. They tend to come in geometric shapes and have walking surfaces overhanging the edges. You’ll typically find a reflecting pool near a decorative landscape feature designed to be reflected in the water’s shimmering surface.

Reflecting Pools

Ornamental Pools

Ornamental pools are usually designed to highlight another piece of outdoor artwork such as a statue. In ornamental pools, water may be coming out of a fountain or statue.

Ornamental Pools


A waterfall adds sound and motion to any water feature. Waterfalls are typically created using natural stone boulders or slabs, bringing a beautiful vertical dimension to an otherwise flat landscape. Larger gardens often lend themselves well to multi-tiered waterfalls, which incorporate a mixture of streams and ponds. Some public gardens also feature large waterfall gateways in which slabs of rock and bricks make up a gate for water to fall through. If you’ve just got a small space, a small waterfall can add the gentle sound of trickling water to your entertaining and relaxing area.



Streams are another lovely way of adding a little movement to your garden. They’re at the best when installed alongside meandering paths or walkways, designed to flow down a multi-level garden. A well-installed stream can cascade into a pond at the end, helping to sustain the water feature’s entire ecosystem.



Fountains dramatically jet water into the air and are often associated with opulence and luxury. Originally, fountains were purely functional and were connected to aqueducts or springs, providing drinking water to cities, towns, and villages. Until the 19th century, the majority of fountains would only operate if there was a water source higher than the fountain. These days, they adorn the city parks, piazzas, and private gardens of the world, providing a gently trickling sound and fresh moving water.



What are the benefits of having a garden water feature?

There’s more to a garden water feature than meets the eye; check out these ten fantastic benefits of having a water feature in your garden:

  1. They’re aesthetically pleasing and allow you to play with colour, texture, movement, and shape. A great water feature will stand out against your garden’s foliage and you can use it to create focal points around any outdoor space. If you want to draw attention to one spot, go with a single fountain, or create several eye-catching spots with a trickling waterfall.
  2. They make your garden experience even more tranquil: these days, we’re on constant alert and are often in desperate need of something to relax us. The soothing sound of a stream or waterfall calms the brain, offering an effect similar to that achieved through meditation. Spending any amount of time outside is great, but the benefits are even greater when your outdoor area is so effective at relieving anxiety and stress.
  3. You can create something unique to you. Gardens are a fantastic way to express your creativity and taste, and a water feature provides even more ways to do so. Whether you choose muted colours to allow your flowers to stand out or prefer the idea of something bright and expressive, the choice is yours.
  4. They engage another sense: Most gardens, even the most beautiful garden can only engage our senses of sight and smell. With a water feature, the sense of hearing is engaged, with the sound of trickling water heightening the already engaging experience of being in the garden. The calming sounds of gently moving water can also serve as a noise blocker which may serve as a welcome relief if you live near a busy road.
  5. You won’t have to worry about much maintenance. Ponds, fountains, and waterfalls continuously recirculate water from within, limiting how much water is used and reducing the chances of stagnant water causing excessive bacteria growth. Aside from having your installer initially fill up your water feature, it’s almost entirely maintenance-free once established. Even fish ponds largely take care of themselves – the larger the body of water, the better it will take care of itself.Benefits
  6. They attract wildlife. Before long, you might notice that birds, dragonflies, and other small creatures visit your garden, adding to a sense of harmony and peace around you. Who doesn’t love the idea of enhancing the natural ecosystem in their back garden?
  7. You don’t need a massive garden to benefit from a water feature. They’re more flexible than you’d imagine! Water features come in all shapes and sizes- if you have a smaller garden, you can opt for a miniature fountain or if you have a larger space, you can use waterfalls to create multiple “zones” within your garden.
  8. They can add value to your home. A well-kept and properly designed landscape can drive up the value of a home by adding curb appeal. This makes your home more likely to sell for more, provided the new buyers are happy to continue maintaining your water feature. If you’re looking to sell your home and know that a prospective buyer is a fan of classic art, then a fountain with statues of muses or animals may mean you’re on to a winner!
  9. You’ll benefit from cleaner air. A water feature filters the air by attracting bacteria, pollen, germs, and dust particles and through the formation of filtering water vapors. With global pollution levels rising each year, more and more people are looking to their own gardens as ways of breathing cleaner air.
  10. They add a talking and focal point. As the evening winds down and you and your guests have finished eating, there will be inevitable lulls in conversation. The addition of a water feature gives you and your guests something to focus on and talk about when you’re entertaining. With the gentle sound of water in the background, any awkward silences between people who don’t know each other as well will be a lot less awkward.

Water Garden Benefits


What should I know before getting a water feature?

While any new garden project is exciting, it is important to be realistic when investing in a garden water feature. Here are a few things to consider before having one installed:


The size of your garden: a water feature should be the right scale for a garden. A large pond would look amazing in a two-acre plot but would shrink a smaller garden. Make sure you leave space for any patio furniture, a shed, and any other features that would make your garden more enjoyable. Similarly, if you’ve got the space, don’t be afraid to go big – water features make a big impact, look luxurious, and the bigger they are, the less you’ll have to worry about algae and other issues that can develop quickly in very small water features in direct sunlight.


Your garden’s current layout: is it possible to move anything around to make space for a water feature, or is everything literally set in stone? Consider how your garden is laid out when planning where your water feature will go. It’s a good idea to avoid putting your water feature too close to overhanging trees and shrubs so there’s less risk of leaves falling into the water feature and clogging any spouts or filters.

Your current garden layout may also affect the cost of the project – if you want to replace a flowerbed or lawn, most of the work will be digging a hole, but if you want to replace a patio or deck, there will be a lot more work to do.


Your garden lighting: you’d be surprised how much there is to think about when it comes to garden lighting. While some lights can be easily moved, you may need to consider where your water feature will go if your lights are installed into the decking or walls. Do your garden lights pave the way back inside? Do you have a lit-up path or wall lights? Are they solar-powered?

Lighting can change the way we perceive something, so if you want to make a fountain look big and grand, under-lighting it will do that. Similarly, if you want to minimize the visual imposition of a stream, place lights around it or over it.


Your design taste: do you want your water feature to blend in with nature or be the star of the show? If you like the natural look, opt for a water feature made with slate, stone, or even bamboo.

If you’d like to add contrast between nature and your water feature, go with a ceramic, concrete, or copper sculptural fountain. Classic water features with cherubs and small statues look great when placed amongst plants, but in more modern settings, you might want to look at materials like concrete and glass.

Whatever you choose, you want to ensure that your water feature’s material and style work well with the rest of your garden so it doesn’t look out of place.


The availability of water to be used in your garden: If you’re looking into a moving water feature, you’ll likely have to invest in a water pump and sort out an electric supply to drive it. If you’d rather do something a little more eco-friendly, you could also look into water features with solar-powered pumps.


The kind of sound you’d like from your water feature: While the primary sense a garden should engage is the sense of sight, it’s good to factor in the sound, too. When you’re planning your water feature installation, you also want to consider why you’re making this addition to your garden. If you live on a relatively busy street, a tall fountain or waterfall will reduce noise pollution. If you live in the countryside and want to echo the sound of a gently trickling brook, a stream might be a better option.

What should I know


Final thoughts

Whether you’ve got a large outdoor space to work with or want to enhance a smaller garden, a stream, pond, or fountain is an excellent way to do so. It adds drama and class while maintaining the peaceful feeling of a quiet garden.

When done right, a water feature can transform a garden entirely, taking it from a nondescript outdoor space to a magical space where you can relax and feel restored.

If you love the idea of having a beautiful garden but don’t fancy all the digging, pruning, and potting of gardening, a water feature is the perfect way to elevate your garden.

Installing a water feature isn’t often something you can DIY; if you’re looking to get a water feature in Essex, we’re here to help. Our expert team can help guide you through the process of your garden redesign to ensure you come out with a garden you truly love using. To find out more about our garden design services, click here.


While not everyone has the luxury of having a sprawling garden to design, small gardens come with the bonus of requiring less maintenance. Small gardens can feel a little uninspiring, so today we’re going to share 14 small garden design ideas you can use in your own garden, or at the very least, spark your imagination for what you can do in your own small space.


14 Design Ideas for Small Gardens

Even the smallest of gardens can be arranged in a more functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing way. Small doesn’t have to mean limiting if you’re creative enough! Let’s look at 14 ways you can make the most of your compact garden, no matter where in the country you live:


1. Create multiple spaces using zoning.

Doing something that separates areas within the garden might seem counter-intuitive, but it can make a space look even bigger. By enlisting a design technique known as “zoning,” you can create visual interest and turn your garden into a multi-purpose area.

There are several ways to create zones within even the smallest garden: you can use potted plants, small, clipped hedges, walls, or screens to differentiate between areas. You can also use different materials from one corner to the next; not only will this create more visual space but it’ll also create the effect of several different spaces within one.

If you’re considering having decking installed in your garden, it’s best to have it installed horizontally to create a sense of additional space.

small garden design ideas


2. Light the path to your garden and let your lighting create a cozy atmosphere.

Use small lights on the floor, within a hedge, or overhead of a path to create depth. This lighting should be subtle – you don’t want to emulate the look of a football pitch! Soft solar lights can be underwhelming, but you’re looking for the soft glow they create.

For the sitting or dining area, a string of outdoor fairy lights around your sitting area or overhead creates just the right atmosphere when the sun is setting on a warm summer day and looks romantic when you’re looking out of the window in the depths of winter.


3. Consider going ‘grass-free’.

A typical garden has grass on the ground and a brick wall, but this design trick can make any garden look fantastic: try hardscaping with plenty of plants on the walls or fence, or use a hedge.

While this may sound strange at first, it’s a great way to reduce the cluttered look of a garden, making each design choice look deliberate. It also helps you reduce the amount of maintenance work you need to do. When possible, create multiple levels in the garden as it helps create a greater sense of space, and if you want areas for planting, raised beds add visual interest while also being more practical.

For your living walls, you can attach wall planters, allow climbing plants to grow up your boundary (just remember that this will put additional strain on your fence panels, or plant tall shrubs or small trees by the fence line. Fruit trees and bay trees are popular choices here.



4. Use oversized planters in urban gardens.

If you’re partial to a little light gardening, you can use oversized planters around the edge of your garden. Here, you can use your imagination and choose whatever plants you’d like for your planters. Opt for lavender, rosemary, mint, and fennel for hardy herbs, plant foxgloves and cornflowers for color, or opt for something like bamboo for year-round beauty and privacy. Place or build-in benches in front of these planters to incorporate an area to relax and entertain.

oversized planters


5. Use mirrors to create a sense of more space.

A trend of using mirrors outdoors has emerged over the last few years, and for a good reason. The use of garden mirrors cleverly adds the sense of more space, with window- or door-like “portals” into another space. Garden mirrors are significantly cheaper and less prone to breakage than indoor mirrors, so this is also an inexpensive trick you can create with some trellis, a mirror, and a few climbing plants to add a natural “frame” effect. The result is well worth the effort!

mirror garden


6. Embrace the tropical.

Think of your favorite (or dream) holiday destination – do you remember your fondest weeks in the sun? You can emulate those memories at home. If your favorite place to visit is hot and tropical, consider replicating this look through the use of trees. A potted palm tree lends any garden space an air of exotic coolness, while an olive tree brings a sense of Mediterranean vitality. Small trees also serve as an excellent divider if you’re looking to create distinct areas within your garden. If you only have room for one statement tree, place it in a back corner and add decking around it, with a built-in bench for relaxing with a good book, cup of tea, or glass of wine.

Embrace the tropical


7. Create a Zen garden.

When it’s warm outside and all you want to do is sit and soak up the sun, what better place to do it than your very own Zen garden? These Japanese-style gardens aren’t typically huge anyway, so you’re right on trend if you’re working with a smaller space. Use miniature versions of potted trees like Japanese maples, bonsai plants, and even apple blossom trees to create an oriental feel in your garden. If you’re not a fan of grass maintenance, consider replacing part of your garden’s grass with a graveled area. Pairing these Asian trees with simple bamboo furniture is an excellent way of making a small space feel airy and spacious.

zen garden


8. Raise part of your garden with decking.

Raising your dining area or seating space onto a deck will separate it from the rest of the garden, making it the ideal alfresco living space. If you’re struggling to decide which part of your garden to raise with decking, find a nook where you might like to eat, drink, or relax with a book without feeling too overlooked by your neighbors. If you can, raise it a full foot or two, but don’t go higher than that if your garden is short front to back – you’ll end up making your garden feel smaller.



9. Build-in a U-shaped seat in the bottom half of your garden.

By creating a designated seating area by your home, you effectively create an area to sit and relax, and the second area of your garden, beyond the seating, can be used for gardening, for growing vegetables, for a pond, pergola with a barbecue, or summerhouse. Make sure the seating reaches at least the ⅓ point into the middle of the garden, otherwise it won’t create enough of a divider.



10. Think up!

It’s important to make use of every square inch of your garden if it’s on the smaller side. By making use of vertical space on the back of your house and the boundary, you bring the eye up, helping to prevent the temptation for the eye to run along the ground to the boundary.

If you’ve got access to a wall or strong fence, consider fixing planters or shelving to it for plants, lanterns, and tools. If you don’t have room for a whole shelving unit, you can always install hooks and opt for hanging baskets instead.

small garden design ideas


11. Try a water feature.

There’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of flowing water, and a water feature is a beautiful focal point in a small garden. There are endless possibilities here – from a long flowing channel with steps down for the water to flow over down to the end, a pond, a raised trough with spouts, a more traditional statue flowing down into a pond, or even just pebbles below.

water feature


12. Create layers of plants in your garden.

Sometimes, an abundance of accessories, furniture, and plants, can make an outdoor space feel cluttered, but it can also work the other way. Combine ground-level beds and raised beds to add layers and height, suggesting that the space boasts much more foliage than it really does.

layers of plants


13. Add some pots on your hardscaping for added shape.

If you’re more of a potted plant person than a gardening aficionado, the selection of planters and pots is your time to shine! To create a nice blend of similar hues, go for pots and flowers within the same palette. For example, if you’re thinking of planting lavender and pink tulips, you can echo that pastel tone with baby blue pots or powder yellow outdoor accessories.

For a splash of excitement and variation, look out for plant pots with different patterns, textures, and tones. You can group your larger plants in twos and threes or space them out around the garden at varying height levels. The colors you choose for your plants and their hangers can either complement or contrast with the other colors you use for outdoor furniture, rugs, cushions, and lighting.

small garden design ideas


14. Don’t be afraid of curves.

It can be tempting to stick to right angles in a small garden, but don’t be afraid to try curves. If your garden is square, try a sweeping path that takes you to a seating area in the middle, with a circular paved area under a pergola. Plant up around the curved path to the rear and lay the front of the seating area with a curved grass area, surrounded by more plants. Opt for low-maintenance plants and an artificial lawn if you want to keep things easy.

Whether you’ve chosen a home with a smaller garden because you don’t have time for maintenance or it’s simply what was within your budget, there’s always something you can do to make your outdoor space look great. You can create cohesion between your home’s interior and your garden or you can opt for something totally different.

By using some of the tips we shared above, you can turn your outdoor space into somewhere you’re proud to bring family and friends. With a new and improved outdoor area, you’ll soon have more options for entertaining on warmer days, where before you might not have had the space for guests. If you’re not sure how to implement these tips in your garden design, our design team can help.

Don’t be afraid of curves

Expert in Small Garden Design Ideas

If you live in Essex and are thinking of updating your garden, we’re here to help. Our highly skilled team has been transforming unexciting outdoor spaces into beautiful and functional gardens for years.

SE Landscapes specialises in garden design and build. So, if you’re ready for your garden to be transformed into something fantastic, click here to learn more.

The way we use our gardens is changing – we no longer simply want a space to let the dog stretch their legs, barbeque a few days a year, or grow a handful of vegetables. If the pandemic has made one thing clear, it’s how valuable our space is! In 2021 we started to see people embracing the trend of creating outdoor living spaces in their gardens, but 2022 is set to be the year where these garden trends explode.

If you’re planning a garden makeover in 2022, read on to learn the top trends so you can work them into your plans.


13 Top Garden Trends for 2022

1)    Home Offices

We all longed to work from home prior to 2020, and of course, the pandemic brought that reality to the world. Whether you’re going to continue working from home permanently in 2022 or part-time, moving the home office outside is one of the top trends. Here are a few of the best ways we’re seeing home offices work in the garden:

Combine these ideas with a patio, a small water feature, and some relaxing plants like bamboo or lavender and suddenly the workday won’t look quite so daunting.

Garden Office


2)    Outdoor Kitchens

Forget the days of setting a small charcoal grill out on a wall in your garden, 2022 is the year we seriously update our outdoor dining. Whether you’re thinking of investing in a grill master-sized pellet grill or a purpose-built pizza oven, this is the year to do it.

Outdoor pizza ovens were once something only seen in warmer climates, but the delicious results have tempted us Brits to install them in our own gardens. There’s nothing quite like stone-based pizza, plus they provide a heat source so you won’t be running back inside in the cooler months.

Install an outdoor counter for a true outdoor cooking experience, and if you’re really thinking big, a mini-fridge installed beneath the counter takes everything to the next level. Add a potted kitchen nearby (herbs or salad leaves in terracotta pots of various sizes) to add fresh herbs to your recipes, or simply enjoy how it looks with your outdoor kitchen space.

Don’t forget the tried-and-true garden bar, either. While they’re not as popular as they were in 2020 (no one saw the trend of being unable to walk into a bar coming) but they’re still great places to relax and entertain.

Outdoor Kitchen

3)    Gazebos & Pergolas

Ideal for gardens that benefit from full sun, gazebos and similar garden structures are making a comeback. While wooden structures will always be tried-and-true, there are now aluminum options that are more durable and faster to erect. Just beware of cheap options – they won’t last as well as more permanent structures, but are a good option if you’re looking to put something up for a party and take it down again. Drape some semi-sheer curtains on or from your gazebo or pergola for added privacy.

Move your furniture from time to time

4)    Split Levels

While split levels inside will stay largely in the 60s and 70s for the time being, split levels outside are much more timely. Split levels in the garden help separate the spaces, which can be particularly beneficial in gardens that are large and flat, without much character, and those on a slope.

Steps that lead to patios help create focal points and sitting areas, and they help inspire a sense of curiosity and a reason to step outside the back door. Raising and varying the levels of your plants can also help, as it helps fill lines of vision from the house.

It’s also a great solution if the natural slope of your garden makes your garden too slippery and impractical to use in the colder months, because the flat paths and stairs make it much easier to navigate.

Split Levels

5)    Outdoor Spas

Similar to the trend of outdoor cooking, is outdoor spas. Hot tubs first became popular about twenty years ago, but technology has developed and now there’s more choice than ever before. Consider sinking your hot tub into the ground and surrounding it with a deck for a full spa-at-home experience, or add steps up to your hot tub to make sure it looks well worked into your garden décor.

Other outdoor spa options is to add a sauna pod to your garden – these are particularly popular in Europe in cooler countries like Austria and northern Germany, and certainly give your garden a luxury feel. Work them into a space with a patio, gazebo, plenty of seating and smart planting to ensure you never want to spend money on going to the spa again!

Outdoor Spa

6)    Better Garden Lighting

Making the most of your garden is difficult from late autumn through to early spring as the days become so short that it’s easy to feel cooped up inside. Fortunately, the addition of smart lighting can help draw you outside, or at the very least, help remind you that there’s a world beyond your back door.

Of course, in the better months quality garden lighting really comes into its own, making your garden spaces places you want to use all evening long. Thing about using string lights, fire pits, ground-level lights, and lights mounted in gazebos and along fencing. Just avoid the one-light flood-light look.

Artificial Lighting

7)    Vertical Gardening

Turning your garden into multiple outdoor rooms means you need to be smart with how you plant – both so it looks its best from wherever you are in the garden, helps you divide spaces, enjoy your garden more, and spend less time caring for the plants you have. Consider gardening vertically instead:

Low maintenance climbing plants are always going to be best, though don’t forget that those that grow quickly and easily are also those that will need pruning, so try to balance ease with how much maintenance you’re willing to do down the line. Here are some of the best low-maintenance climbing plants:

Vertical Garden

8)    Raised Planters

Using raised beds is another trend that’s making gardening easier and more accessible – whether you want to create beds full of lavender bushes, perennials, or vegetables. Use them around the edge of your garden, to divide spaces, or to make your vegetable gardening more convenient. Raised beds are something people often don’t consider if they like dabbling in the garden but sing their praises of when they have them – they’re much easier on the knees, back and neck, no matter your age. Used railway sleepers are a common choice, but using red brick is another long-lasting option.

Raised Planters

9)    Adding Water

After the past few years and the trend toward busier and busier lives, most people are looking for more ways to relax at home (hence the outdoor spa we talked about above!) and the sound or sight of water is restorative and relaxing. While big fountains may not be your thing, small water features like water overflowing a decorative ball or flowing over rocks works well in any size of garden, but if you’ve ever thought about getting a pond, now is the perfect time to do so.

Add some Water

10) Artificial Grass Lawns

Of course, lawns are often an essential part of the garden, but caring for them can be more trouble than it’s worth. Artificial lawns have become better quality than ever before and fool most people, especially in the summer months. They’re soft, long-lasting, and durable, which makes them the perfect low-maintenance option for play areas for dogs, pets, and adults alike. If you choose an artificial lawn, just make sure you invest in quality – cutting corners here isn’t worth it. If you need more help choosing the right artificial grass, read our guide here.

Artificial Lawn

11) Using Mirrors to Create the Illusion of More Space

If you have a small garden or simply like to create the illusion of more space, mount a mirror on the wall at the end of your garden path or behind a sitting area to create the illusion of more space. Tuck it within some ivy or behind some bamboo to give it that secret garden feel.



12) Multiple Sitting Areas

As we’ve been talking about throughout this article, gardens in 2022 are all about the different spaces you can create within your garden. Of course, having four different patios all with dining furniture is a missed opportunity. Instead, think about using different seating options, such as:

Multiple Sitting

13) Outdoor Heating

To overcome the cooler weather, many are turning to outdoor heaters and chimneys to keep warm while staying outside once the sun sets, or on those cooler days. Fire pits are one of the most popular options, but if you’ve got the budget, a cast iron or stone chimney (often called a chimenea or chiminea for the free-standing Spanish version) is a great option.

Fire Pit


The good news about all these options is they’re all compatible with one another, provided you have the space. Don’t be afraid to divide up your garden as you would a floor plan of a home, creating different purpose-built spaces for different activities, divided by plants, trellis, or different levels. If you need help with your garden design, we’re here to help! We offer a full garden design service in Essex to help you create your dream garden. To find out more about how we can work with you, click here.

Your garden should be an extension of your home, but all too often, it’s a sad, drab jungle that causes you to sigh whenever you look out the window. We all love taking a walk around the incredible historic gardens we’re so lucky to have here in the UK, but they’re simply not something we want to maintain at home – even if they’re a tenth of the size!

If you’re ready to transform your garden into something you can’t wait to use but needs little in the way of maintenance, then a contemporary garden design is what you need. Read on to learn all about contemporary garden design and how you can create one at home.


What is Contemporary Garden Design?

Contemporary garden design is sleek and modern, leaning into our current love affair with sleek lines and ingenious design. Contemporary garden design doesn’t always mean it’s minimalist, but it does use clearly defined areas and shapes. Contemporary garden design leans into the use of hardscape mixed with carefully chosen greenery, often with raised beds to keep weeds to a minimum. Typically paving takes the centre stage, though a mix of different hardscape elements can elevate a contemporary garden design to the next level.

A lawn isn’t always used, but if it is, it’s neat and bordered by pathing or raised beds. Many choose to opt for artificial grass for their lawn because it’s so much easier to care for, and of course, it adds to the neat-and-tidy look of the contemporary garden.

The main aim of a contemporary garden design is to extend the living space. Think of the big, bi-folding doors that have become so popular in modern builds and extensions, that completely remove the separation between kitchen and garden. Contemporary gardens often incorporate multiple seating areas to give you different options and areas to use. The good news is you don’t need to have an ultra-modern home to gain all the benefits of a contemporary garden.


What should I consider when planning a contemporary garden design?

To achieve your dream contemporary garden design you need to consider:


1. How much space you’re working with and what you want it to do

First, consider how much space you’re working with and what you want your garden to do. Consider if…

Once you’re realistic about what you need your garden to do and how much room you have to play with, you can start getting into the nitty-gritty of planning your ideal contemporary garden.

The answers to these questions will guide you in how much space you should allocate for lawns, patios, decks, and flower beds or raised vegetable gardens. It may be that you envisage your garden to be primarily a place to entertain your friends and family with space for a wood chip grill or a pizza oven. If you expect lots of youngsters or four-legged friends to use it, then you need to consider making grass a priority.

On the other hand, if flowers and vegetables are your thing, then you’ll need to consider which part of your garden will offer the best growing conditions in terms of sunlight.

Be honest with yourself and this part of the design process should be relatively easy. Don’t have vast flower beds if you are not prepared to employ a gardener or put in hours of work yourself, but don’t put it all down to paving if you want to indulge the Alan Titchmarsh part of your personality from time to time.

How much space

2.    Map the Natural Light

How sunlight naturally lights your garden will have a serious impact on where you place your desired spaces in your contemporary garden design. For example, if you want plenty of space to entertain and relax on sunny days, but have a north-facing garden, then putting that patio directly outside the backdoor will mean you only want to use it when it’s over 28C outside. To get the most out of your entertaining space, put it where the sun shines, and for a north-facing garden, that’s at the very back of the garden.

For south-facing gardens, especially those that are relatively sheltered, think about those hot days. Is there any shade for you to get out of the sun for a while? If not, that’s something you need to consider.

You can’t control whether the sun comes out or stays behind clouds, but what you put in your garden will affect what the natural light does. Trees, pergolas, and outbuildings will all alter the way sunlight falls on your garden. You can work this to your advantage, but not if you don’t pause to think about it.

Natural Light

3.    Artificial Lighting (& Heating)

Most people want to increase the use of their gardens and this is where artificial lighting (and heating!) comes to the fore. Technology, particularly the use of LEDs and solar panels, means that the options available for lighting your garden after dark are enormous. Don’t ignore your neighbours though, they might not be quite so keen on floodlighting as you are!

Artificial Lighting

4.    How Much Maintenance You’re Prepared to Do (or Pay For)

This is a biggie and another area that requires honesty. How much time are you actually prepared to spend weeding, mowing lawns, planting, deadheading, and watering? Some plants need effort and lots of it, and grass needs cutting at least once every week from early Spring through to late Autumn, not to mention treatment with moss and weed control. For some, looking after their garden is a big part of the enjoyment, while others prefer to pay someone else to keep the garden looking at its best.

There are planting schemes you can choose that, together with a weed-suppressing membrane, will minimize the work required to keep your plants in tip-top shape. There are also artificial plants available that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing and require no looking after.

If you must have real grass but don’t want the bother of cutting it then you can buy robot lawn cutters that will do the job for you and are almost silent as well (though they don’t come cheap, leave an uncut edge around objects, and are best for small lawns, so do your research!). Or what about laying an artificial lawn? They look just like the real thing and stay in peak condition all year round with no care required.

Be realistic here – if you know you like the idea of gardening more than you actually like doing it, then just give yourself a few raised beds to play with and use pots and troughs for additional greenery. If you need to, you can always put more raised beds in later, but taking them out is a much bigger and more complicated affair.

Maintenance You Prepared

5.    What Materials Do You Want to Use?

This is one of the fun parts of contemporary garden design but can be bewildering. There are just so many options available to the garden designer: concrete, porcelain, natural stone, gravel, decking, you name it! A quick Google will show you just how many choices are out there. Take your time, what you settle on will have a major impact on the look of your garden.

Look around you, make a Pinterest board, and look at the general costs involved. If you plan to work with professionals to bring your vision to life, have a good idea of how you want each element to look in colour and texture, but be open to suggestions on the actual materials you use. In most cases, they’ll have more experience with the materials, how they are to work with, and most importantly, how they age.

The way you work with plants is also vital. What plants you choose and where you put them can’t be left to chance. Soil, climate, and light all impact your choices but so does the architectural impact of the plants, the colour, and the scent. This is another area of garden design where bringing in the help of an expert may be the best option. A professional will be able to suggest planting not only based on the environment and micro-climate of your garden but more importantly, how much work you’re going to have to do to maintain them.

What Materials Do You Want to Use

6.    How Much of Your Garden Design Are You Prepared to DIY?

Do not underestimate the work required to bring your vision into being. Hard landscaping is exactly that – hard! While some relish the idea of hiring a digger and getting stuck in, most will baulk at the idea of spending days or weeks shovelling soil and rock, and living with a constant building site. If you’ve ever embarked on a big renovation on your own (like replacing the floor or even your kitchen), you’ll know the feeling of the moment you wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

As with any other area of your property, don’t DIY something unless you’re confident you can see the job through to completion.  Like the foundations of a house, ground preparations are key to the perfect patio. Get that wrong and you are looking at a paving disaster.

Outdoor Spa

7.    Your Budget

Depending on how money-minded you are, this may be the first thing you think about when you start planning your contemporary garden design, or you may have a partner who will look at your design and ask, “just how much is this all going to cost?”

Yes, considering the budget is boring! But no one has unlimited amounts of cash to spend on a garden makeover and if you don’t consider budget before starting, you’ll inevitably end up spending more than you’d like. You need to sit down, see what you can afford, and cut your cloth accordingly. (And then stick to your budget!)

Working out the cost of materials is pretty easy but the cost of ground preparation? In garden design, it is often the unseen elements that cost the most and certainly the thing most likely to be underestimated. Don’t make that mistake. Laying a patio is a fairly fast operation but preparing the ground is not. The work required to takes time and skill and that doesn’t come for free. Ground prep will likely cost more than the actual finishing surface.

If you are going to attempt going down the DIY route just make sure you know what is involved and don’t skimp. Be prepared for some pretty hard work and a considerable number of hours.

Don’t underestimate the price of plants either. You might not want to wait years before your planting looks the way you imagined it when going through the design process. This may mean going for larger, more mature specimens but they do of course cost more. You also need to get your plants from reliable and respected suppliers if you don’t want to face disappointment.

The best thing to do is read our article on budgeting here, plan your ideal contemporary garden design (or brainstorm some ideas), and then talk to the experts to get quotes so you can rework your ideas to best suit your budget, if necessary.

Budget Garden Design


Need a guiding hand?

Designing and creating your dream contemporary garden is quite a project! There are so many variables involved and so many wrong paths you can go down. This is why it may be better to work with a professional design service that can streamline the whole process and get you the garden you want within the budget you can afford in as short a time scale as possible.

If you’re in Essex, our Garden Design service is your best next step. We’ll work with you to create your ideal contemporary garden. One that will add value to your property and give you a garden you can enjoy year-round, providing you with all the entertaining, gardening, or play spaces you need. To learn more about our Garden Design service, click here.


Patios have become a must-have feature for homes across the country as they help create a low-maintenance space that’s not dependent on the weather or season, and easily extends the living space of your home. It’s a great place to relax with a good book, dine out, set up the barbecue, and chat with friends. Better still, a quality patio will improve the value of your home.

However, even the most perfectly-laid patio needs a little TLC to keep it looking its best. With a little care, your patio will not only look as good as the day it was laid, but it will also last longer, too. As experts who install patios and driveways day-in, day-out, we know exactly what it takes to keep a patio in top condition for decades. Read on for some of our best tips to help you extend the lifespan of your patio.


How can I increase the lifespan of my patio?


Most patios need more than a monthly bucket of water and some dish soap to keep them looking their best, so here are a few simple cleaning tips to help you increase your patio’s lifespan:


1. Thoroughly sweep your patio every other week or so. This will remove all the dirt and debris while preventing moss and algae from building up.Sweeping the patio


2. Jet wash your patio on a low setting, ideally using patio cleaner attachment (if your patio has been sealed, check with sealant care information before you use a jet wash) to remove ingrained dirt. If you’ve ever seen jet washing videos online, you’ll know just how satisfying this can be! If you don’t own a jet wash and don’t want to invest in one, a local handyman (or woman) will be able to do this for you regularly.Jetwash cleaning


3. Use a vinegar wash to get rid of stubborn patches. Mix water and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio, with more vinegar for stubborn stains. Pour the mixture and let it work for 30 to 60 minutes before scrubbing at stubborn patches and rinsing to clear away debris.Vinegar Wash


4. Keep an eye out for weeds growing in the cracks of your paving and pull them out. If you use a weedkiller, ensure that it has been specifically developed for this use to avoid your patio from becoming stained or discoloured. If you find plants growing up through cracks and joins, make sure you repair them so they cannot continue to do so. You’d be surprised how tough weeds can be, and they can cause more damage over time.Weeds growing


5. Treat your patio with a specialist cleaner, depending on how quickly your patio gets dirty.Specialist Patio cleaner


6. Move your furniture from time to time. If you have furniture, pots, or anything else on your patio, move it around regularly or put it away in your shed or garage when it’s not in use, if possible. This will ensure you don’t get algae build-up and other moisture issues under your furniture and decor.Move your furniture from time to time


7. Seal (or reseal) your paving. Before you do this, check with your paving supplier and ensure you have the correct sealant as there are different sealants suitable for different types of paving. You won’t need to do this often; an application of paver sealer should last you between three and five years.Pave Sealing


8. You may also need to repoint the patio slabs if they come loose. This involves removing residue of the jointing compound around the loose paver with a hammer and chisel, then refilling the gaps with fresh joining compound, grout or mortar. It’s best to outsource this job as it takes knowledge of paving to do well.Repoint the patio slabs


9. Avoid using harsh de-icers and chemicals, as these can harm the sealant or even discolour your paving. If you need to de-ice your patio, salt is the safest way to do so. If you have snow, avoid using a metal shovel to move it off your patio as you may accidentally scratch your paving stones.Snowing patio

Cleaning, washing, and sweeping your patio is an excellent way to prevent moss and weed growth and should be done three to four times a year at a minimum. While these are all great ways to extend the lifespan of your patio, it’s worth noting that some of the best ways to ensure your patio lasts is to have it installed properly. If your patio is past the point of repair, it may be time to think about having it replaced.

A new patio will ensure you can safely use your patio, increase your satisfaction with your home and garden, and increase the value of your home, so it’s well worth the investment (click here to find out more about how much your new patio may cost). We specialise in hardscaping and so we know the value of good preparation. The best thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your patio is to ensure the right drainage is installed and quality, hard-wearing paving is used. A quality sealant can seal the deal and ensure you don’t find yourself weeding your patio after just a few months of it being installed.


Patio Experts in Essex

Whether you’ve just moved to Essex and are ready to give your new garden a makeover or simply want to give your patio a new lease of life, SE Landscapes is here to help. We install garden paving that will transform the appearance of your entire home. Every patio we install is uniquely designed to match each client’s requirements and suit their garden’s surroundings.

Choose from slate, natural stone, block paving, brick paving, porcelain, Indian sandstone, York stone, concrete slabs/flags, cobbles, and many more. We also offer a wide range of colour options, so all you need to do is tell our team your requirements, and we will make your dream garden a reality. Click here to find out more about our patio and paving services.



Your garden isn’t just an area outside your home; used right, it’s an extension of your home. Your garden should be an area for relaxation and entertaining, that adds comfort and value to your home. If you decide your garden needs a makeover, you can relax knowing that it will be money well spent, but how do you figure out how much it’s going to cost you, and how much you should spend?


Don’t Just Cost Out Paving Slabs Beautiful garden with paving

If you have ever bought carpeting you will know that the cost of the Wilton or Axminster is not the whole story, far from it. Good carpeting needs good quality underlay, gripper track and careful fitting by skilled fitters. None of that is cheap. It is the same with gardens.

What lies beneath your paving, decking, and other areas and the preparation required is where a large portion of your budget will go. If you want your grass to grow or your artificial lawn, patio, driveway, or decking to drain well and look as good as when it is first laid for years to come, then you need to ensure the groundworks are correctly undertaken.

Whatever you spend on the surface is usually about a third of the overall cost. Think about what is involved in building the perfect patio.

The first step in any new patio project is to install an adequate sub-base. This will involve excavating the existing surface. The excavations will then need to be disposed of in an appropriate manner. Often vai skip or grab lorry.

Then a new sub-base typically consisting of 100-150m of MOT Type 1, on top of a layer of weed membrane will need to be installed. The sub-base is a crucial part of the longevity of any patio or paved surface.

Without this preparation, your project is likely doomed to fail. You can’t build castles on sand and you can’t build a patio without putting in the time and effort.

So don’t underestimate the cost of groundworks and installation and remember to factor in things like earth removal. You may be surprised how much earth needs to be disposed of from even the average-sized garden if a serious remodelling takes place.

Groundworks are the literal foundation of your garden providing a suitable platform for the gloss of hard and soft landscaping. It might not be visible when the garden is finished, but this foundation is vital for the long-lasting success of the project and well worth spending the money on to get it right.

It might not be fun to think about, but you’ll be glad you spent the money when your neighbour’s garden turns into a puddle after heavy rain, and yours doesn’t!


Budget for Quality on the Surface Artificial Grass Quality

The surface is the easy part to budget for, though there are lots of alternatives to consider. Take your time before you get quotes to browse online, think about what you want your garden to look like, and the approximate cost of each option. Ideally, have a few different looks or finishes in mind so you can be open to the expert advice of your landscaping company. We also highly recommend visiting local landscaping and builders merchants to actually view the vast array of materials available in the flesh. Pictures are all well and good but they don’t always give a true reflection of the materials appearance. We’re also able to supply samples of most materials that you can actually take home to help you visualise how they might look in your garden setting.


Prioritise Low Maintenance  Garden with Flowers

Unless you’re incredibly green-fingered and know that your garden makeover will largely be focused on flower beds and shrubs, make sure you prioritise a low maintenance garden as you budget. If you want to include flower beds, consider raised flowerbeds made with railway sleepers, and consider using an artificial lawn instead of turf. This will make your life far easier in the long run, and low maintenance gardens are what the majority of homebuyers are looking for so you’ll also increase the value of your home if you decide to sell.


Gather Quotes and Use Them as a Guide Request For Quotation

An estimate on the back of an envelope after a cursory look around your garden is not good enough for a final quote. The one thing you can guarantee about an estimate like that is that it is likely to be under the final cost, so make sure you have a buffer in the bank to allow for this. That said, an experienced company will be able to give you an accurate and honest quote and keep you in the loop as the project progresses. Use your quotes as a guide and then finalise your quote when you settle on a design with your chosen landscaping company.

At SE Landscapes, we always use fixed price quotations, so there are no hidden surprises!


The Cheapest Quote is Not Always the Best Quote

The saying “you get what you pay for” is often true. The best companies are rarely the cheapest, but they have garnered a good reputation for a reason. They will have the resources to take the project from design to completion and leave you 100% satisfied with the high standard of workmanship and the quality of materials used.


In Essex? We’re Here to Help

SE Landscapes are the leading landscaping contractor in Essex providing expertise in all areas of garden remodelling, from patios to artificial grass, decking to brickwork. We pride ourselves on our customer service and know that the best form of advertising is personal referral.

Your new garden should be a lasting pleasure, somewhere you can entertain and relax whenever the weather takes you for decades to come. With the right preparation, budgeting, and professionals, your dream garden can soon become a reality.

Request your free consultation today.




Here is Why You Should Hire a Professional Essex Landscaper for Your Garden Project


If you’re currently considering landscaping your garden then you may be weighing up the pros and cons of hiring an Essex landscaper or taking on the project yourself.


There are several reasons why you may wish to carry out a DIY project. The first and probably most appealing reason is to save on labour costs. Plus, of course, you can’t beat the satisfaction of having completed your own DIY project – it’s something that you can take pride in for many years to come.


But there are many advantages to choosing a professional landscaping contractor to carry out your garden project, and today, we take an in-depth look at the reasons why you should hire a professional landscaper.




A Professional Landscaper Will Know the Best Installation Techniques & Methods

A professional landscaper with many years of experience will know the best installation techniques and methods when it comes to building your new garden.


Laying paving on a full mortar bed, bricklaying, screeding, haunching, tamping, and levelling are just some of the installation techniques and methods a professional installer will make use of.


If you don’t know how to do these things, or worse, don’t even know what they are, then you’ll certainly be best off using a professional landscaper for your garden project.



A Professional Landscaper Will Have the Necessary Tools & Plant

Most landscaping projects we carry out across Essex require a wide range of tools and plant.


Smaller hand tools, such as shovels, levels, trowels, wheelbarrows, club hammers, saws, pointing irons, set squares, screeding bars, and tape measures, are all important components of the landscaper’s toolkit.


Then you have larger power tools, such as laser levels, grinders, impact drills, hammer drills, skill saws, and chop saws, to name but a few.


These, of course, are all very important pieces of equipment that we use on a daily basis as professional landscapers.


On top of this you have other items of plant, such as vibrating plate compactors, heavy duty breakers, excavators, rollers, and dumpers.


As a DIYer you may find that you have to spend a small fortune in acquiring the tools and equipment needed to carry out your garden refurbishment.




A Professional Landscaper Will Have Experience Using the Tools & Operating Plant

Not only will a professional landscaper have the required tools and equipment to carry out your garden project but, perhaps more importantly, they will know how to use them.


Honing your skills and learning to use a wide range of tools obviously doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of practice, particularly when landscaping involves such a wide-ranging skill set.


One day may involve you operating a mini-excavator and laser level to clear the site and lay the foundations of your garden. The next may involve using a shovel and trowel to lay bricks to create a retaining wall, or a chop saw and impact driver to build a deck.


Why spend many frustrating hours attempting to learn how to use specialist equipment when you can hire a professional who already knows how to safely and efficiently operate the tools and plant that will be needed to build your garden project?



A Professional Landscaper Will Save You Time

Opting for the DIY route means that you are going to have to sacrifice the majority of your free time for as long as is needed to complete your project. And it’s always a safe bet to assume that things will take far longer than you predict.


If you’ve never done something before you can often be shocked at just how long it can take you to fumble your way through things.


Bad weather is a continuous bane of a professional landscaper’s life, too, and if you’ve set aside an entire weekend to dedicate to your project that is then spoiled by bad weather, you’ll find it an incredibly frustrating experience.


Delays with suppliers and getting the right materials on site at the right times can be tricky, even for professional landscapers with excellent local supplier links.


If you’re trying to carry out your normal day job at the same time as landscaping your garden, and so only have evenings and weekends available to work on the project, you’ll find that arranging for materials to arrive during these times will be extremely problematic, especially during peak times in spring and summer. And if your materials don’t arrive or the wrong materials are delivered, you may have to wait until the following weekend to get the materials you need.


It’s also important that, in order to avoid working yourself to exhaustion, you take time off to relax or spend with your family; however, when you start your garden project, you may find that these opportunities are few and far between.



A Professional Landscaper Will be Able to Source the Best Quality Products at the Best Prices

An experienced local landscaper will have excellent links to local suppliers. This will enable them to source not only the best products, but to get the best prices, too.


Finding the right supplier can often be a case of trial and error and you often don’t know whether the quality of the materials or the service provided by your supplier will be up to scratch until it’s too late.


As a professional landscaper will have lots of local suppliers that they use on a regular basis, they will be eligible for trade prices. These savings can be passed on to the customer and help to offset the labour charge.


Suppliers are often likely to favour regular customers when it comes to preferential delivery slots, meaning fewer delays to your project, too.



A Professional Landscaper Will be Able to Help you Visualise the End Project

symphony porcelain patio essex

If you’re carrying out a garden project for the first time, you may find it very difficult to visualise the end result. We know that many of our customers do.


However, by using a professional landscaper, you’ll find that that they will be able to help you visualise how your project will look and ensure that the finished result looks just they way you want it to.


That’s because it’s a job they do day in, day out, and they will have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of garden transformations throughout their career.



A Professional Landscaper May Save You Money

Okay, so, right at the beginning of this article, we mentioned that opting to carry out a DIY installation may save you money – but that’s not always the case.


Mistakes can be costly. So costly that any potential savings are wiped out.


For instance, say your lack of experience leads you to excavate more earth from your garden than is necessary. The end result is additional waste disposal costs, followed by the cost of additional materials, on top of what you originally needed, to raise the level back up to the required height.


Or say you struggle to cut those last few paving slabs accurately and you find yourself having to buy more material to make up for wastage. Worst case, this can sometimes mean that you need to buy far more than you need as, for example, some suppliers only sell full crates of paving. So, even if you just need a couple of square metres to finish the job, you may need to buy a whole crate that could cover 15 square metres or more.


Of course, as we’ve already discussed, a professional landscaper will also be able to source materials at a much cheaper price than an ordinary member of the public can. These savings can be offset against any labour costs.


If you don’t have any experience in landscaping, then you’ll probably find that a professional landscaper will save you money, and with it, stress.




Carrying out a garden project can be hard work and time-consuming.


If you’d rather hire a professional landscaper in Essex that has the skills and equipment to carry out your garden or driveway transformation, then you’ve come to the right place.


We’re an award-winning landscaping company based in Chelmsford. We offer a wide range of landscaping services and have been operating since 2011.


To get the garden of your dreams, please call us today on 01245 697 688 or fill out the contact form here to arrange for your free consultation.


Book A Consultation