Long, narrow, awkward side yard garden makeover – Case study

When it comes to garden design, some gardens are definitely more challenging than others. A particularly tricky one  is the long narrow side garden, which often ends up as a junkyard. It’s not really large enough to do anything with, that’s the problem.

Well actually, with a few cunning design tricks, you can turn that awkward side area into something eye-catching and dramatic that becomes an intrinsic part of your whole garden.

So, how do you design an awkward side space garden?

Awkward-side-garden

Step 1

The first thing you need to do in any long narrow space garden is to try and make it look wider. The wider you can make it, the more interesting a garden design it will look and the less likely you will be to use it to store junk!

The way to make any garden space look wider is to draw the eye from one side of the garden to the other. You do this by having either focal points strategically placed or by the garden design shapes you use. In the garden featured below we did both. The planting punctuated each changing direction and the different types of gravel were used in a sweeping serpent shape which forces your eyes to move from one side of the space to the other.

Step 2

Make a dark space look brighter. The dark wall segments were rendered and painted cream. The lighter colour helps bounce light back, making the space brighter and therefore look larger.

SIDE-GARDEN-PLAN

Step 3

Link the side area into the main garden. It’s important that the garden works as a whole entity and isn’t seen as a series of unrelated parts. By having the gravel path and stepping stones wrapping round the decking area at the end of the garden, it helped link the two areas together. The continuity of materials also helps link the two areas together.

By clearing out the junk, lightning the walls and creative use of the space, this dark dingy side garden looks twice the size and will hopefully never be used to store junk again!

Need more help?

If you have a long, narrow or rectangular shaped garden and would like ideas, plans and a step-by-step guide on how to transform it, check out the long garden formula. It’s an online course with written content and video tutorials that will guide you step-by-step on everything you need to do to completely transform any long garden into something amazing.

View our FREE training on designing LONG gardens

If you’d like to join in our upcoming web class on the Fast Track Formula for designing long gardens, please visit: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/long-garden-webclass/

The FREE training is approximately 1hr and will show you exactly what it takes to design your garden quickly and easily.

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…

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Front garden makeover – Case study

The front garden makeover in this case study had a driveway either side of it and a small lawn at the front. The design needed to be viewed from all angles and be welcoming as you approached the house from the road, whilst also looking good from the view from the window. Front-garden-before So how do you go about creating a garden that looks good from every angle?

Step 1 Choose a shape that enhances the space and looks good from whichever point you view it.

The easiest way to do that is to choose a shape that is simple. If you try to use irregular curve shapes in a small space, it never looks right. So, keep it simple and base the shape on a circle or box shape.

Step 2 Make sure that the shape you choose enhances the area.

Again, circles are wonderful for making any space look larger. Simplicity really is key. If you try and overcomplicate things, it will never look right.

Step 3 Make it interesting with a clever choice of materials or focal points.

You don’t have to fill every last space in your planting borders with plants. If you use a gravel and cobble mulch, you can leave areas of empty space so that you can clearly view the cobbles. This creates additional space and makes borders more interesting, and it’s also low maintenance because you have less plants. If you are going to use a gravel or cobble mulch, make sure you put down a good weed suppressant membrane that will help keep the maintenance low.

You can see in our example garden that we edged the lawn with pavers to match the driveway. This created continuity with the existing materials and it also kept the maintenance lower because it meant the lawn didn’t need to be edged and would never lose its shape. The shape also mimicked the fencing panels, which furthered continuity in the design.Front-garden-AFTER The curved shape pointing outwards from the house helped make the area look longer from within the house as well as creating a welcoming shape as you approach from the road.

You don’t have to spend a fortune and it doesn’t have to be difficult!

This is a really simple makeover. It didn’t need anything overly fancy or ‘designery’, nor did it need a small fortune spending on it. Design shapes are what REALLY make the difference, not how complex you make it or how much money you spend!

Circles and curves really are your best friend in the garden, just having a simple shape like this on your lawn and patio area makes a tremendous difference. Even though we were unable to fit a whole circle or semicircle into the space, the design shape did originate from a circle. Never underestimate the power of the circle, it’s why garden designers use them so much!

Need more help?

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

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

Large square garden makeover – Case study

Square gardens can be a little bit tricky to design, because you can see everything in one go, which often makes them quite boring to look at. So, how do you design your garden if it’s a boring square shape? Good question, glad you asked! Square-Gdn-Before If the garden is large enough, you can often divide the space up and make an interesting side area alongside the main lawn. This breaks up the square and creates interest. However, in our garden case study, we weren’t able to do this because the builders had created a slightly odd-shaped, raised, timber planter to cover over a big block of concrete they found in the garden. This meant that we were unable to use the space to put a pergola walk or meandering path to a seating area at the end of the garden.

Step 1 Use interesting shapes that takes your eyes away from the squareness.

I would also normally suggest that you create an interesting shape with your patio or deck area. Unfortunately, the deck had already been built and was too new to take up and redo in a different shape. So, basically, with this garden we had to work with what we’d got. I wanted to create more interest than just having a circle lawn shape, so I used an oval instead.

Step 2 Link the existing in with the new garden.

Although the deck and raised timber border were already built, it was still important that they tie in with the new design. Whilst it wasn’t possible to change the shape of either of them, we could still link them with the new areas by the use of wide steps and shaping the brick edging to meet the steps. Because the steps were the entire width of the areas of lawn in front of them, it created continuity and a seamless link between the two areas.

Square-Gdn-After1Step 3 Add in a main focal point or two, to take your eyes away from the squareness of the garden.

To add further interest we incorporated a gazebo as the main focal point to draw the eyes around the garden. The garden was certainly large enough to have more than one feature, but we wanted to make a statement piece, so we kept it to just one.

The brick edging we used to surround the lawn helped to make sure that there was a defined shape to the lawn and it also cuts down maintenance because you don’t need to edge it to keep it the shape. Brick edges are also good because they allow the plants to flop over them, softening the whole design, without affecting the lawn.

The planting borders next to the deck area help to soften the harsh straight-line of the deck, as well as bring interesting colour closer to the house, enhancing the view from the kitchen and dining room. Garden-After

Need more help?

garden formula courseIf 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. If you want to know about garden design in depth, then take a look at the Great Garden Formula.  

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

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

[DESIGN SHOW 4] – Garden Makeover Ideas

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This Garden Design Show episode features the second quick-sketch challenge. In ten minutes or less, designer Rachel Mathews will come up with as many landscape design ideas as she can for a viewer’s garden in the UK, near Cardiff.

You’ll be able to see how to do a simple garden makeover on a budget. Rachel will plan the garden from scratch, giving ideas on how to best utilise the space in your garden. Rachel will show you how to make your garden look more visually interesting by using some cunning design tricks. She’ll also show you how you can get a feel of the perspective, to help you visualise how your finished garden will look.

She will also discuss the costs of getting your garden built as well as how you can reduce costs to work to your budget. This episode also covers how to create a low-maintenance garden, that suits your home and tastes.

Rachel will also give you the answer to the question featured in the last episode and tell you what it was that made the garden modern and not traditional.

What Would You Like to See Covered in Future Shows?

I’d love to get your ideas for future shows so that this can be as beneficial to you as possible. Leave a comment me know what topics you’d like me to delve into in future episodes in the comment boxes below?

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You can subscribe via iTunes, so you can watch it on the move, or via the Successful Garden Design YouTube Channel that has over half a million viewers worldwide.

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