About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

Plant Selection – Amazing in April

Finally, spring is actually with us (albeit for brief and teasing snatches here in the UK). It means our plant choices are getting more varied. So following on from March’s subtle planting scheme that wouldn’t clash with all the spring flowering bulbs, this month’s garden plant selection has brighter colours but will still compliment all […]

Modern, awkward shape garden design – Wolfgang’s garden

I’m very pleased to be featuring Wolfgang’s garden in this week’s SGD Student Hall of Fame. Wolfgang lives in Germany and this is the garden he had to contend with once the house was completed! Yikes! What to do with a garden like this? Firstly: LEARN ABOUT GARDEN DESIGN (if you’re going to DIY). The […]

Front garden design makeover – Case study

Front gardens can be difficult to get right because often as not, they have to be functional, to accommodate the car and driveway or utility area for bins. Just because a driveway is there, it doesn’t mean to say that the area should not be treated as a garden and be made to look beautiful. […]

Changing a ‘nice enough’ garden that isn’t nice enough!

A few years back, a friend of mine asked me to redesign the garden of a house she’d just bought. I was happy to help as I could see there was lots of room for improvement. Her family were all keen gardeners, and by the look on their faces, they were somewhat aghast at her […]

Wide Garden Design – Howard’s Garden Update

Normally, the SGD Student Hall of Fame is for gardens designed by you – on this occasion I’m slightly breaking it as I designed this one, live, in the Wide Garden Workshop we did in Oct 2015… The reason I’m including it is because the owner, Howard built the garden, with no previous experience as […]

Cool Christmas Gifts for Garden Lovers!

Do you hate Christmas shopping as much as I do? I doubt that’s possible but just incase you do we’ve made your life a little bit easier with some fab selections for the design conscious gardener (oh and there’s some fun ones as well) We’ll start with the fun ones! Garden Games from Greenfingers. Easy […]

Long Modern Garden Design – Part 2

In part 1 looking at SGD student Sander’s long modern garden design in Holland we focused on his design. Now we’re going to see how the garden turned out… And Sander’s going to share his top 3 tips he learnt from designing and building his garden… Garden Construction Sander’s Top Tips for Creating a Successful […]

Sander’s Long Garden in Holland – GGF student design Part 1

Nothing thrills me more than seeing what complete amateurs, with no garden design experience are able to achieve after they’ve done one of our online garden design courses.** It makes me feel like a very proud mum, especially when they come up with something like this… (click on image below to view video tour of […]

Garden Design Student Plan from South Africa

I’m very pleased to share with you the plan of SGD student Vicki Szokolay who is 58 years old and has recently completed our main garden design course – the Great Garden Formula. I will now pass you over to Vicki to explain her design… Design plan concept The Location The plan is for a future garden […]

How to disguise an ugly garden fence – part 3

In Garden fence lowdown – Part one and Part two, we’ve covered what you need to know about putting a fence up and the choices available. But if you want a cheaper and quicker option to replacing a fence, then in this article I’m going to share my top tips for disguising an ugly fence. Covering an […]

Long, Narrow & Odd Shape Garden – Rae & Geoff’s Design

Introducing an amazing couple – Rae & Geoff – who not only designed their own garden but built it too! I’ll let them talk you through their garden project… 1) Why did we want to redo our garden? Our existing garden was essentially a long path to the shed at the back of it: it was […]

Garden fence lowdown – Part 2

In Part 1 of our Garden fence lowdown we looked at the costs involved in the process of constructing a good fence. Now we’re going to look at some examples of different types of fencing. These days there is a lot more choice in fencing, which is definitely a good thing. In this article we […]

Garden fencing lowdown – Part 1

Garden fences – I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them. I love them because you can quickly and easily screen off the garden and make it secure. I hate them because they invariably tend to be quite ugly and also unbelievably pricey. Also, if it’s your fence, you usually end up looking […]

Award-Winning Rooftop Garden Design?

I’m excited to bring you another SGD student design – this time for a stunning rooftop garden for the English Garden Future Fund competition. Gillian’s design has been shortlisted for a chance to study garden design at the world-famous Inchbald School of Design with course fees paid! I’ll now pass you over to Gillian, a passionate […]

Garden Transformation – GGF Design Student – Sam Cowen

I love it when our SDG design students come back and tell us how they’ve got on, this time in particular because I think we could all do with a bit of positivity with all the global events of the past few weeks… Sam is in the UK and had no prior experience of gardens […]

Garden planting rails – How and where to use them

Last time around we looked at all the ins and outs of pergolas. Adding a structure as large and as dominating as a pergola isn’t always the best option for everyone though. So this week we will take a look at planting rails, the pergolas smaller sister. So what exactly is a planting rail? Basically, it’s […]

Free Garden Design Training *time sensitive*

http://www.successfulgardendesign.com/free-workshop Hurry up and make sure you see this garden design workshop whilst it’s on for FREE! After the 31st October this will be paid viewing only. It’s the BEST workshop we’ve ever put on – take a look at the sneak peek video above… Learn how to design any size or shape garden using a […]

Garden Design Workshop – Winners

This could also be titled confessions of a garden designer… I’ve slightly mucked up this workshop by ending up with more designs than we’ve time for! Originally the garden design workshop was only meant to be 3 gardens but we’ve ended up with 4 (one of which has 2 designs) – don’t ask! I want […]

VOTE NOW – choose which gardens you’d like to see designed in the workshop…

Our next FREE online garden design workshop will be on 17th-31st October – we will be designing 3 gardens! VOTE NOW – We had a draw so please vote AGAIN for the square gardens…you have until 6pm tonight!   Don’t miss out! Come and join us in the workshop… and get a chance to have […]

A back front garden! An unusual garden – Case study

The garden in this month’s case study is a little bit unusual. This is because the driveway ran down the side of it to the garage and parking area at the top. So it was a bit like having a front and back garden combined as one. So how do you overcome an awkward or […]

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