The sun is setting, and the evening is cooling.
The sausages upon my BBQ have left me drooling.
With water and squash, and a dash of fizz,
Topped off with cake, this evening is bliss.
The wood upon the pit is crackling for hours,
Alongside the beauty of the summery forest flowers.
Easy to construct, robust and sturdy,
We’ll be sitting by the firepit until at least 1130.
The next morning has come, and it’s time to clean,
Which is easily done, now my firepit is pristine.
Back into it’s zipped bag, stored away for now,
My Primrose Firebowl has been has been nothing short of wow.
If you’ve ever sat down and tried to work out how you can redesign your garden but felt that it’s all too overwhelming, then you are in the right place.
What I’m going to take you through is a simple self help system that will give you the same tools that a professional garden designer uses that will result in a scheme for your garden that you will recognise as your own.
Most of the enquiries we receive at Elementa Design are from clients who have either inherited a layout from the previous owners that doesn’t suit them, or just feel that the garden they might have tinkered with is still lacking in interest, functionality and form. Their priority now is to put this right by engaging a designer to introduce the wow factor that shows a professional has been involved.
It occurred to us recently, after meeting with a new client who said that she wouldn’t know where to start designing her own garden, that I thought I should jot down what we actually do as designers to create these wonderful spaces.
There are of course years of experience, technical construction know how and confidence to produce that wow factor, but you can go a long way down the path of garden design yourself if you followed these simple steps.
1. Surveying the area
Everything starts with getting a better understanding of what you already have. You’ll have to establish what you can and can’t do in the context of the site you have. Call it site assessment.
Walk round the garden for a couple of minutes taking in a visual brief to remind yourself of those boggy or shady areas that plants struggle in. Are there any areas that might have rubble or old garden features below the soil that need avoiding? Where are the areas of shade or baking sun?
Now clear the kitchen table, make sure you have a little peace and quiet for an hour or so. Find a large piece of paper. An A3 sketchpad would do but otherwise improvise with the back of some Christmas wrapping paper, or something that gives you plenty of room to experiment. You’ll also need some basic tools such as a scale rule, a small set square, a pencil and a large eraser. You’ll then need to pace out the garden. Don’t worry at this stage about tape measures, remember that a good long stride is a metre, so as long as you get rough proportions correct along with the positions of the doors, windows and other major existing features then that’s good enough for the time being. At this stage only plot the items that are immovable. That’s the practical things complete. Now you can do the creative side.
2. The Brief
To take the brief I find it helps to take a sheet of paper and put a vertical line down the middle and another line intersecting that to form a cross, or four quadrants as in the example below.
You’ll see that there are specific titles in the quadrants; the top half deals with the existing garden and the bottom half gives you an opportunity to list those items that you do or don’t wish to see introduced into your new garden. Be as obvious as you can with your observations of the existing layout.
The bottom left hand quadrant should list those items and features that you’d like to see featured in your new garden that aren’t already there. This can be a wish list containing such things as water features, seating areas, BBQ area, shade sails, wooden planters and so on. Conversely, in the bottom right hand quadrant should go all those features and items that you wouldn’t like to see featured in the new garden. These may be items such as a particular yellow flower, statuary or more pots or containers, more lawn than you already have.
A lot of clients in the summer months are looking to plan to have features that can stand out in the winter months. Interestingly enough a lot of our garden design in Gloucestershire projects have incorporated both fire pits and halogen heating lamps adjacent to the seating area to add that wow factor and ensure you can enjoy your garden without necessarily wearing 4 layers in those chilly winter months. These are two of the stand out products from Primrose that we incorporated into our projects this year.
3. The Design
Given that sitting in the garden is an enjoyable and popular pastime for most people, it’s important that the seating area is easily accessible. Garden furniture can bring a sense of comfort to a garden. One of our most popular products that we have recommended to clients this year has been a corner Rattan sofa set that often seamlessly fits into both a country or town house garden. If you require something a bit smaller that could perhaps be suited to a focal point in your garden then a pair of stunning sofa chairs can be the perfect while adding that bit of luxury to another part of your garden.
4. The journey – or joining the dots
Every garden should have a flow, by that I mean if the terrace is near the house then the next feature should draw you to it via a path or strong visual link that takes you to the next position in the garden. Perhaps now it’s time to look at your list of features and garden design ideas that you’d like to see incorporated in your living space.
You may have for instance a swing seat, water feature, planters or just a small bistro type table and two chairs that you can linger at. We call these areas honeypots as they give you an opportunity to stop, sit and just take it all in. The idea is to be able to walk round the whole garden, however small, to enjoy and sample the various honeypots, perhaps with a cup of coffee or something stronger after work. Here are our ‘Top 2’ honeypots this summer which we have included in our projects and strongly believe you should too.
Incorporated into our formal designs, this stainless steel water cascade is made from high-grade stainless steel and glass, which added that wow factor when placed alongside a curved planting area.
5. Focal points
These are much talked about and they are important. By definition a focal point is a feature or item that draws the eye to a distant point, partially obscured to create mystery in some cases. These can be something as simple as a pot, a tree, a bright stainless steel water feature or even just a white metal bench in the distance inviting you to go and sit. It needs to send a strong message so choose carefully and make sure it’s large enough to be able to dominate that space so when viewed from a distance it has the proportion to do the job.
6. Keep it simple
I know it sounds obvious, but the keep it simple rule should be adopted everywhere. If the design of the garden is strong enough it doesn’t need over embellishment. The curves in the garden whether it be gravel or lawn, the shape of the flower beds, keep it bold. Be courageous with fingers of planting beds that come out mid garden creating strong shapes. Big sweeping curves work far better than little wiggles that can also be a nightmare for those having to do the mowing.
7. The review
Hopefully by now you’ll have the features that you want dotted around the garden, some obscured from each other if you have the space and bold profiles defining the margin between planting and the central areas. You’ll see that it then all begins to make sense and with luck you’ll recognise it as something resembling what you wanted to achieve.
Now you can produce a fair copy of your sketch and put a little bit more definition and discipline into the design. You could then take your piece of paper out into the garden on a dry day and mark the positions of the main features with sand or marker paint. You can then ‘walk through’ the new shapes and see how it feels. Begin to select your garden furniture if you’re not using your existing furniture and walk around so that you feel you have enough space on the seating area. Sit at the end of the garden and see how the shapes work there as well.
The most extraordinary and magical process is yet to be enjoyed. The garden that has come from within through this process of design will then be brought to life in front of you and will continue to mature and bring years of enjoyment. There is nothing more magical and satisfying.
Nick Dickinson of Elementa Design has been creating beautiful gardens for four decades now. Nick is an award winning garden designer who is able to take a brief, however sketchy, and transform your garden into something that will really stimulate the senses.
Last night’s episode of Love Your Garden featured a stunning transformation by Alan Titchmarsh and the team. They were in Chandler’s Ford to help partners Fran and Jason, whose lives had been severely affected by Jason’s rare heart condition. Determined to keep on living and make the most of the time Jason had left, they wanted to transform their garden that they had been unable to work on.
The Love Your Garden team stepped up to the challenge and transformed their previously unkempt and unpractical garden into a wonderful space for family and friends. Gone was the trampoline, shed and rubbish and installed were a sunken lounge, paving, walkways and many wonderful ornamental plants. And a central feature of the sunken lounge was our X-Large Mexican Chimenea that would keep the area cosy, whatever the temperature, ensuring relaxation all year round.
Over 200,000 revellers will descend upon Worthy Farm for the annual Glastonbury Festival today. Whilst they will be rocking out to the likes of Ed Sheeran, it is also inevitable that they will encounter a lot of rain and mud too. Yes I know, we’re in a heatwave, but it’s Glastonbury – it ALWAYS rains. Not to mention the fact they will be unable to shower for almost a week, will be slogging it on a camping mat and will be void of all the amenities you appreciate with every day life.
So, how do you enjoy Glastonbury without actually slogging it with the masses? Well bring Glastonbury to your garden of course! Whether you’re listening on the radio or watching on the TV, you can easily recreate that feeling of being there.
We’ve a few products to make your ‘Glastonbury Garden’ even better.
Recreate that feeling of being in a tent, but with a lot more space and freedom. I’d recommend the yellow party tent; it’s funky colours will help create that festive vibe. The majority of our gazebos are waterproof too, so you don’t have to worry about getting soaked!
Relax in comfort with a vibrant outdoor rug. Not only are they 100% waterproof, but they’re also really easy to clean thanks to their polypropylene material. You can sprawl out, and use these as a picnic blanket if you wish also (or even as a place for your pets to lay and join you).
When you’re at a festival, chances are you’ll either be eating beans off a small stove, throwing gone-off burgers onto a disposable BBQ or will simply divulge in a liquid-only diet. However, now you have the opportunity to cook up a fresh feast, and eat like royalty in comparison to the campers.
Leading on from the delight off freshly cooked, warm food, why not keep yourself warm too in the cool evenings? Avoid layering up and wrapping yourself in blankets, and opt for a heater or firepit instead. It will provide you and your guests with ultimate warmth throughout the evening, and no longer will you have to worry about the cold British weather. If you opt for a firepit, you can recreate that festival feeling of sitting round a campfire, singing to your hearts content too!
Add an enchanting glow to your Glastonbury Garden set up with solar lighting. Whether you want to stake them into the ground, or hang them up on your gazebo (or nearby trees), you can create a beautiful scene which will help guide you back your bed when it’s getting dark.
Perfect for lounging around in your garden, why not sit back and relax whilst you enjoy the sound of Barry Gibb or Stormze. Why stand up on your feet all day, draining yourself at the main stage when you can sit back and crack open a cold one. No more sore feet. No uncomfy bottoms.
(photo credit to bigfire.co.uk)
So there you have it. Enjoy Glastonbury this year without the hustle and bustle of leaving your garden! And if you are planning on going to Glastonbury, let us know how you get on!
Amie is a marketing enthusiast, having worked at Primrose since graduating from Reading University in 2014.
She enjoys all things sport. A keen football fan, Amie follows Tottenham Hotspur FC, and regularly plays for her local 5 a side football team.