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


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.


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.


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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Transforming a bland square shape back garden – Case study

Like a lot of gardens, the garden featured in this month’s case study was a fairly typical one. It consisted mainly of just lawn with a few plants dotted around and a shed.


So, if the majority of your garden is lawn, how do you make it more interesting?

Step 1 Create a lawn shape that is simple, yet creates interest and utilises the space well.


Step 2 Add some height to create interest.

A pergola walk, archway or even small tree avenue can do wonders for creating interest in the garden. Any vertical element you put in your garden will lead the eye to it and up, which makes a very flat dull garden a lot more interesting, as there is more to look at.

Step 3 Use paths to both visually and functionally take you round the garden.

Paths are great for making gardens look and feel more interesting. Your eyes will automatically follow them around the garden. Even if you never physically use them, they still draw the eye around the garden.

Part of the main trick to garden design is to create a visual journey throughout the garden. Gardens are always very dull if you can see everything in one go. With any design, it is important that you create an interesting visual journey garden.

The garden featured in this case study did have quite a lot of sheds and a summerhouse to incorporate. So we used paths to link different areas of the garden together and take your eyes away from the sheds. These are practical for getting you to the other end of the garden, as well as visually pleasing.

There was also a hidden courtyard garden at the bottom left which was screened off using trellis. It was paved at an angle with a central focal point to create interest. This cosy area was a bedroom garden where the owners could have their morning cup of tea in the sun.


A large deck area at the top of the garden created additional seating and interest with the rope and posts going around it. And this also helped take the eyes away from the sheds.

Need more help?

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

Register on this page:

Need Help and Ideas for Your Garden?

It’s the time of year where we all start to think that we should be starting to ‘do’ something with the garden… But what exactly? How much will it cost? And where to start?


It can be really frustrating to spend a small fortune on plants and features, only to find that you’re not happy with the end results once you’ve placed everything in your garden. Then follows the hours of shuffling things around to see if moving things from one side of the garden to the other improve things…

It doesn’t!

I’m on a bit of a mission this year to help make sure you don’t waste your hard earned cash on things that won’t improve your garden (very easily done). So, I’m doing a series of FREE online Garden Design Classes.

The garden design web classes are designed to show you EXACTLY what you need to do to create a great looking garden using a real life example.

There’s a REALLY simple technique that you can use to quickly and easily transform your garden without needing to spend a fortune.

You don’t need to be a talented artist or be able to visualise for this technique to work. It’s this simple technique that I’m going to be showing you how to do in the online Garden Design Web Class.

Best of all, this simple technique can be used no matter what size, shape or style of garden you have now – interested?

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

Register on this page:

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