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Sometimes, it is a good idea to stand back and take a long, hard look at your garden and really think about you are wanting to use the space for and whether it is achieving that.

Below are some ideas to help you do this.

                                                 
Ideas for gardens from The Gardensmith, Worcestershire

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Are you really happy with your garden? 

Could your garden be improved and made to be a more useable space?

Does your garden give you what you really want from it or is it simply a place to kick a ball around in or hag out the washing?

Why do we seem to put so much effort into our indoor spaces, but so little real thought about the outdoor ones? 

A well designed and thought out garden can add value not just to your property but to your life as well.

Plants in design. The Gardensmith, Worcestershire
First, think about what you are wanting to use the garden for - a garden for entertaining, for the children, a retreat from a busy day at work?

Are you wanting a contemporary garden design or a traditional, cottage garden?  Maybe you yearn for a Zen Garden or Water Garden?  Do you want a vegetable garden or a tropical garden?

With these ideas in mind, look at your garden objectively.  It is possible to make small changes to an existing garden that will help make it more useable, but. it maybe that it is time to make a dramatic change and start again.

Hidcote Gardens Look through design books and get ideas from garden designers to see how they use hard landscaping materials and plants. 

(For more ideas visit click here for the garden design photo page)

Rip out pages from magazines of gardens that you like, or pieces of outdoor furniture, lanterns or planting schemes.  This will give you, and should you choose to employ one, a garden  designer, at better idea of what you like and dislike.  Make a 'mood board' of all these accumulated ideas and pictures and you should begin to get a real feel for what you are aiming at. 

A visit to a garden show or nursery will also give inspiration and ideas so remember to take along your camera.

Visit some of the famous English country gardens such as Sissinghurst and Hidcote.  Even in these large country gardens, it is possible to find inspiration and ideas for even the smallest of gardens.

There are basic elements which always need to be included in garden design, but, the way that they are used can greatly change the feel of the garden .

Hard landscaping - Patios, paths, walls, fences and decking.  There is a huge range of materials out there to choose from and it can be a daunting prospect to choose the right ones.  Keep the 'palette' of materials to a minimum rather than using too many and look at the surrounding area, the house and landscape and try to keep the materials chosen in sympathy with them.

Soft landscaping - plants, grass, trees and shrubs.  If you don't have much time to spend in the garden maintaining it, then choose plants that look after themselves.  It you are wanting a certain 'feel' to your garden, then chose the appropriate plants to achieve that - for example; tropical or Mediterranean plants.

Water - ponds, lakes, fountains, waterfalls.  Water adds another element to the garden.  It reflects the sky and light and adds both texture, movement and sound.

Even if you have only a small garden you can incorporate a small water feature such as a pebble fountain or mill-stone.  If you are luck enough to have the space, then a pond or even lake can add a wonderfully relaxing element to the garden which is ever changing.

Even in the tiniest garden, a large bowl of water with some pygmy waterlillies in it makes a great focal point.

As well as being aesthetically pleasing in the garden, even a small bowl of water attracts a wide range of wildlife to it.

Lighting - can give a garden a magical quality at night and extends the time you can use the garden.  Even in the winter months it is lovely to look out at a spot lit tree or statue.  Candles and lanterns can be an inexpensive and romantic way of lighting the garden.

Seating areas - there is as much choice of garden furniture on sale now days as indoor furniture.  Try to keep it in keeping with the 'style' of the garden and make sure it is comfortable!  You will be now spending so much time in your newly designed garden that it must be comfortable.  As far as places to sit in the garden goes, try to have more than one.  Make sure there is an area that catches the early morning sun so that you can go out for morning coffee or even breakfast.  If your garden catches the evening sun then make a sitting area there for al fresco meals and lazy evenings.

Focal points always think about adding one or more focal points into your garden.  It can be as simple as a well placed statue or a feature tree with spectacular autumn colour or bark.  Make sure there is a focal point which can be seen from inside the house as we, unfortunately, spend a vast amount of our time indoors in this country.

The above are just a few ideas to help you make the most of your garden and give you hours of enjoyment from it.  If something is worth doing, then it is worth doing well and, thinking about the aesthetics of something carefully can make it a thing of great pleasure.

Gardens with water from The Gardensmith. Small garden ideas availble from The Gardensmith.

                                        

Coastal garden ideas from The Gardensmith.

 

 

 

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The Gardensmith 2009
Last updated March 2009