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.

FrontGarden

So how do you go about making a practical space a beautiful one?

Step 1 Design it as if it were a garden first, then make it practical.

This is the most important part of the design process. If you get too bogged down in the practicalities of having a functional driveway or a place to store the bins etc., then you often won’t be able to come up with something that looks pretty.

Whereas if you tackle it the other way round and have a garden first and foremost, do the design you’d like to have, and then work out how to accommodate the car and a drive etc., then it becomes much easier to create something of beauty.

Step 2 Get creative with the shapes that you use.

Your front garden doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Experiment using sweeping bold curves, circular shapes, or if you have a very modern house perhaps interlocking block shapes.

If the area is small, try to use shapes and materials that will visually make space larger.

Step 3 Now you need to make it practical.

So, now you’ve designed your front garden as you would had it has been just a garden, we need to start to think about how you can incorporate space for a car or utility area, or whatever your practical needs are for your front garden.

So obviously, you will now need to modify what you’ve already done on paper, but doing it this way round will enable you to create something much more artistic and visually pleasing.

If you have to accommodate a car into your driveway, allow a lot more room than you think you need.

Front garden case study

Before the builders added an extension to this house, the front garden had just been lawn with a few plants. After the building work had finished, there wasn’t much of either left! However, the owners did not want to go back to having a plain old boring lawn. For a start, there’s the additional maintenance of grass cutting, and they thought that it could look better than just grass.

In our case study garden, a bold sweeping curve shape was cut into the tarmac drive and then small natural stone paving slabs were laid in a random bond, mixed with light coloured gravel and planting.

The paving slabs were of a thickness that if they needed an additional car parking space, near where the pot is on the photograph below, they could take the weight without cracking.

Frontgarden1

Thymes were planted in gaps left in the paving, and these could take being driven on occasionally. This allowed for the area to still look like a garden, yet function as a parking space.

The paving also functioned as a path to the front door as well as around the planting sections. By using the same material all the way through, and in their relatively small sizes, it makes the area appear larger and the consistent use of materials brings clarity to the scheme.

Need more help?

If you’d like to learn more about exactly how you can transform your garden, then check out the online garden design courses I run here at Successful Garden Design.

Learn how to design your garden – Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/

 

Questions or comments?

Leave them in the box below!

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

Nice-Garden-Before

A ‘nice enough’ garden, but could it be made better?

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 getting a garden designer in! The garden was perfectly ‘nice enough’ as it was, surely? It only needed a few extra plants and it would be great. Getting the whole garden redesigned was unnecessary and might ruin it!

I can only imagine what horrors were running through their minds of what a designer might do…

A very common problem

If you have a garden that is already quite nice, the concern is often that you might ruin what you have now. One thing I can absolutely promise you, is that a good design will never ruin what you’ve got, it will only improve it.

The average garden can and should be so much more than average. So please don’t settle for the average boring and bland backyard!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create great looking garden

Really, you don’t. Of course, you can spend a lot of money if you want to, but you actually don’t have to. The trick to creating an amazing looking garden is all down to how you arrange the space. That basically is what shape lawn/patio area you put in. If you already have a patio down, then it’s just the shape of your lawn that will need to change.

Just reshaping your lawn to get a lovely looking garden might sound far too good to be true, but it really is the key to creating a great looking garden. The reason it is so powerful is because you are controlling the shapes within your garden.With the right shapes you can make a garden look larger and more interesting.

OVAL-Garden2a

Most people do it the other way round. They add the plants and then the space that is left is an odd shape lawn. By doing it in reverse and choosing the correct shape lawn first, the areas that are left are where the plants go. It will also help prevent you from having a random lawn shape that is disjointed and doesn’t help the garden to flow visually.

A ‘nice enough’ garden case study

The key to transforming my friend’s garden came down to getting (you guessed it) the right shape lawn in!  A very simple oval shaped lawn with a brick edge surrounding it was the basis for the entire garden. The old concrete patio was dug up and replaced with natural stone paving laid in a random bond style (lots of different sizes mixed together).

The sizes of the paving was quite small to make the space look larger, and the different sizes works well with the modern cottage garden style that we were aiming for to match the house and owner’s tastes. The same paving is also used in the raised patio at the far end of the garden.

A timber planting rail, to match the neighbours fence, was added to the top patio, making it more enclosed and creating an interesting area at the end of the garden.

OVAL-Garden2

Design does make the difference

If we had just added more plants in the garden, it really wouldn’t have looked much different. My friend loved the new look to her garden and thankfully, so did all her family. Phew! It would have been rather awkward if they hadn’t!Oval-Garden-mature1

Need more help?

If you’d like to learn more about exactly how you can transform your garden, then check out the online garden design courses I run here at Successful Garden Design.

I particularly recommend signing up for our FREE web class… 

Learn how to design your garden – Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/

Power of THREE: Useful Tips from Garden Designers…

stone,-timber,-render

A contemporary garden, with only 3 main materials…

So, as the saying goes; ‘Three’s a crowd’ well, not in my book, and not in the eyes of most other designers. For, ever since the beginning of time, we have understood the power of groupings of three (well, ok, slight exaggeration perhaps, but you get my drift!).

It is the secret weapon of designers the world over. Stop. Take a look. And you will see.  The Power of Three.

Plant THREE Large Containers

There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than a grouping of three large Urns, positioned absolutely exquisitely for maximum impact.  Add to this, the very simple idea of planting with the SAME species – et voila! You have designer-impact in your garden, worthy of Chelsea.

Andy Sturgeon is the master of this – demonstrated perfectly in his 2010 Daily Telegraph garden …. 3 exquisite oversized shallow bowls planted with equally exquisite irises:

Andy-Sturgeon-garden-power-of-3

The simplicity of 3 beautiful oversized pots filled with irises, and 3 large slabs of limestone.

Of course, for this to work, it must be THREE OF A KIND – the repeat impact is divine. 3 urns, pots, containers…of the same size, material, dimensions…..planted with the same species, same colour, same height. Pure perfection.

PLANT in Groups of THREE

planting-combinations

These plants have knitted together beautifully, but started in life as groups of 3!

Planting in groups of three is the perfect scenario for any border.

There is something that just feels ‘right’ about odd number groupings – 2 is too linear and too refined.  4 feels like ‘ducks in a row’, but 3 OF A KIND; planted with enough space to grow, but definitely ‘together as a group’ – sits comfortably with the mind and pleases the eye.

Planting in Three’s allows the group to be ‘staggered’ – free from rigid constraints; just as nature intended.  Plants should sprawl, mingle and intertwine, not be lined up like soldiers or tied up in straight jackets.

Stick to THREE Different Materials

slate,-rendered-walls,-stone

slate, stone and crisp clean walls – that is all!

This is a golden rule that I stick to religiously.  Never, ever, use more than 3 different types of materials in your garden.

3 gives a nice contrast of finishes – you can introduce different texture and pattern to your surfaces. Lovely effect.

Add more, and soon you have a mishmash of materials, a hodgepodge of effects and an assault to the senses.

Stick to the rule of three and you will not go wrong.

 OR, as De La Soul would say, ‘Three..is the magic number’..!

If you would like the Successful Garden Design cheat sheet and video on how to add the WOW factor to your garden  please add your email address below (don’t worry we don’t spam and will NOT pass on your address to anyone else!).

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Awkward shape garden design solutions – Case study

Awkward shape garden before design

Awkward shape garden before design

Having a garden that is an unusual or awkward shape can often feel like a nightmare to deal with.

Actually though, an awkward shape garden often as not is a blessing because it enables you to come up with a design that is very unique, that you wouldn’t have been able to do in a regular rectangular shape garden.

So how do you transform an awkward shape garden?

 

Step 1 The main thing to do here is take the eyes away from the awkward angles of the garden.

Curves and circles are fabulous at doing just that, as your eyes naturally follow the shape of the curves.

However, you can also use interlocking box shapes equally well. The most important thing to remember though, is to always, always follow the lines of the house i.e. you put the box at 90° to the house and not following the angle of the wall fence. If you follow the fence angle, you end up accentuating the look of the angle rather than disguising it.

You will, of course, end up with some odd shapes, but don’t worry about these because you can easily disguise them with planting.

In the plan examples below you will see two designs for the same awkward shape garden. One using interlocking ovals and the other interlocking box shapes. Whilst both work and do the job well, the oval design is a bit more pleasing to the eye, as it is softer to look at and the curves create more interest than just straight lines.

Awkward-Garden-Design

There is no right and wrong time to use curves as opposed to straight lines, it does come down to personal taste. Most people do seem to prefer curved shapes though. Straight lines are better if you have a very modern and angular house.

Step 2 Add some height to take your eyes away from any awkward shapes.

Adding a tree, pergola, archway or something that draws your eyes up, will also help take them away from any awkward angles. In our case study garden we had both a pergola and an arch with a seating area built in. Having strong focal points like these forces your attention on something else and away from the odd shape.

Step 3 Use the leftover spaces around the lawn and planting to create an interesting meander around the garden.

The beauty of an awkward shape garden is the angled leftover bits that you end up with once you’ve got a very defined lawn shape in place. You will see in the example garden that we made use of the space with a stepping stone path winding its way through the garden. Again, this draws the eye to follow the path and, because you can’t quite see everything in one go, it makes the whole garden look larger and more interesting.

Need more ideas?

If you’d like to learn more about exactly how you can transform your garden, then check out the online garden design courses we run here at Successful Garden Design.

If you would like the Successful Garden Design cheat sheet and video on how to add the WOW factor to your garden  please add your email address below (don’t worry we don’t spam and will NOT pass on your address to anyone else!).

Download the ‘WOW Factor’ cheat sheet & video

Enter your best email address in the box below

Trisha’s 1st Garden Plan – design case study

The conversation started like this:

“Hi Rachel!!!

I’m so lucky to have found you! You have such a knack for teaching the RIGHT information, quickly and in the right way. It’s clicking immediately (you should see the garden I designed for my cousin, just after watching the free videos… Imagine what I’ll be able to do after taking your courses).”

As you can imagine, this piqued my curiosity! What precisely had Trisha achieved from just watching 12 Garden Design Show episodes – here’s what she sent me…

Trisha1stdesign-color

I will let Trisha take over and tell you all about how her design works. My comments are in [these boxy things] and a critique at the bottom.

Trisha’s design process

My cousin and her husband are a young family with 2 small girls. They moved into their new house with a yard so big, I don’t think they know what to do with it.

The yard’s layout and plain concrete patio are built along stark, straight lines. I began softening the lines with an addition to the patio. The [patio] extension would be lined in brick and could be flagstone set in mortar. 

I designed it to be the same height as the patio (opinions are welcomed if it would be better ground height, stepping down off the patio). [Definitely keep it the same height Trisha – it will be much safer and nicer to use].

I set a swing on this extra patio for her and her husband to sit on and watch the girls play. If flagstone is too expensive, the addition could be switched to a planting bed. The brick edge should stay to hold that line in place.

Her yard is currently is one huge L shape. In order to break up the space, I incorporated one of Rachel’s infamous circle lawns. I have never seen a circle lawn and I think my cousins jaw will drop when she sees it.

Creating a ‘designer’ path

I love Rachel’s use of curved paths, so I used one around the lawn to tour the yard. This is a pretty big path that takes up a lot of space. It would be nice set in pavers, but since our highway department will deliver free woodchips, that might be a no brainer.

The lawn would need a strong brick edge if using woodchips, and I think square stepping stones (that I lifted from one of Rachel’s designs) would be a nice touch set in the path. Theres a nice stop along the path with a wooden bench under her big pine tree.

After the circle lawn was established, there was room for 2 more areas. A playground was the obvious choice. And seeing that the other part of the lawn hides behind the garage, I assume they want the girls to stay in this area where they can see them. The final section of the yard behind the garage, I thought, would be great for ‘family getaways’. So I added a firepit and left the grass so they could put up a tent and go camping! 

These 4 sections of the yard would be fantastic for parties. The adults could play ‘bags’ in the lawn and have a bonfire, and the kids could play in the playground.

Designer vegetables!

My cousin likes to eat healthy food, so I gave her not 1 but 2 vegetable garden areas, if she chooses to grow vegetables. I imagine her and her girls eating from the fruit tree and raspberry bushes by the patio. I also gave her the option to grow greens and herbs on the patio, with large box patio planters. And situated a few more terra cotta planters on the extended patio.

I’m so very proud of my first real garden design. Its all because of Rachel’s insane ability to teach the right information in the right way. She’s such an inspiration. Thank you Rachel!

[:D Grinning from ear to ear – thank you Trisha, you are very welcome, I LOVE that you’ve taken so much on board from just the Garden Design Shows].

Critique

Trisha certainly should be very proud of her first ever design. She’s really understood how to divide the space up and create a nice flow around the garden. The area that needs a bit more work is by the shed. The firepit/camping area doesn’t flow in with the rest of the garden as nicely as it could.

The other slight thing, and this is very nit-picky, is the play area. It would look better if it’s definitely smaller than the main lawn. If it’s the same size or larger, it throughs the balance off and makes the garden look top-heavy.

Trisha has a really good eye for design and I cannot wait to see what she is able to do once she’s been through a full design course – she really will be unstoppable!

About Trisha & how she could help you

Trisha from Roots Nursery

Trisha from Roots Nursery

Trisha has her own plant nursery called Roots Nursery which is in the western suburbs of Chicago.

She’s got a lovely website and I recommend you take a look at the download pages she’s created as there’s some garden layouts you can download and adapt to your own garden.

I’m so happy to see a horticulturist crossing the ‘plants only’ divide and embracing garden design so fully. She’s planning on doing the various online garden design and planting courses we do here at Successful Garden Design so that she can better serve her customers.

Fabulous!

Has Trisha’s 1st garden design inspired you?

Do leave your comments and feedback in the boxes below!

Learn more! Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/

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