The Greenfingers Garden: A New Design?
Survey and brief
completed, Ruth Chivers has produced her new design
for Greenfingers’ competition winner Tina Mantle’s
£20,000 garden makeover. Here she outlines its main
Unless you have a brand new house with a bare garden,
few gardeners have a blank canvas on which to make their
ideal garden. One of the challenges of garden design
is to incorporate existing large plants and features
into a revamped scheme.
for my design for Tina Mantle’s garden was
to concentrate on the area at the side of the house,
the space outside the patio doors and the lower terrace.
Pulling the whole garden together, increasing a sense
of flow and making some new planting areas were priorities.
Ground shapes are a good place to start with any garden
design. Fitting these into the area you have and matching
the dimensions you give to each with what you want to
do in the space is what makes a successful garden design.
A lawn or patio is usually a good starting point and
can help you shape the rest of the garden.
Here, the new design
does not include a lawn. A deck takes the space of the
conservatory, blending into paving slabs through the
side courtyard and the rebuilt main steps up into the
top part of the garden. The plan for the upper deck
makes use of the existing retaining terrace wall and
new timber steps improve circulation around the whole
garden. The positions of manhole covers also have to
be taken into account when making patios and decks.
Removing the existing pond will allow a spa to be incorporated
into the upper deck. The whole team wanted to make planted
areas at the sides of the garden as large as possible.
Setting these at an angle, reflected by the front edge
of the top deck, gives a generous bed
size, bringing plants into the foreground.
side garden is at present little more than a passageway,
narrowing from the entrance. At our first
visit to the Mantles, I’d envisaged developing
this area using raised beds to minimize the impact of
the boundary fence on top of the retaining wall. Setting
these timber-raised beds at an angle of 30° matches
the lines of the back garden and leaves a useful paved
area. Laying paving slabs and decking at the same angle
helps to make narrow spaces appear much wider, and gives
a sense of continuity throughout. Tina Mantle wants
to move an existing table and chairs into the new side
courtyard to catch the evening sun, a perfect example
of practicalities affecting design ideas. It’s
something to remember when rethinking your own garden.
See also the Helping Hands workshop: How
to set out a garden from scratch and the Fresh Ideas
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com