to improve your garden it can be a good idea to
take inspiration from your surroundings. Why confine
your creative thoughts to standard garden themes.
If you look around to draw inspiration you’ll
be surprised at the amount of ideas you can get.
My client had a postage stamp sized plot in the
heart of the city. I was keen to capitalise on
their dockside location. They also wanted a garden
that would be easy to maintain.
I decided to design a garden that evoked a seafaring
world, working with timber, water and rock.
My design features a boardwalk made from decking
planks. This is supported by large wooden telegraph
poles, cut right down in height. A pond forms
the heart of the garden and it actually runs under
the boardwalk. On a hot day you can sit on the
edge and dangle your feet in the water, something
I always loved to do as a child.
I chose reclaimed railway sleepers to contain
raised beds around the garden. Raised beds are
easy to maintain because you don't have to bend
down so far to reach the soil. Sleepers are great
because you can sit on them whilst watering, weeding
or pruning. Avoid that backache!
Always place a micro-porous membrane down before
laying decking. This prevents the growth of weeds
between planks – these are extremely difficult
to remove. Put a layer of gravel over the membrane
to keep it in position and hide its surface.
When selecting your decking planks, always check
that the timbers are either hardwood or pressure
treated softwood. I prefer to use planks that
have a ribbed, non-slip profile. Smooth decking
can be treacherous when the wet.
Although I used railway sleepers in the garden,
I kept them away from the pond. On hot days tar
deposits can seep out, and these are potentially
harmful to fish and wildlife.
• Make sure that the decking planks are
securely fastened, preferably with two screws
side by side in each fastening position. This
will ensure that the planks don’t warp and
that the surface remains level.
• If the sleepers do exude tar this can be
taken off with a rag and strong household detergent.
Worth doing, especially if you have children who
are likely to touch them.
• Ensure that the plants used in raised beds
are fairly drought resistant. Soil dries out a
lot quicker than it would in a normal bed. If
the bed is in a sunny position why not try herbs.