If there was one place last year we appreciated more than any other part of our home, it was the garden. Where we were lucky to have a sanctuary and escape the madness of Covid-19. To sit, take in the birds singing and the warmth of the sun on our pale winter weather-beaten skin and the one place we could also enjoy the company of family and friends.
Today the sun is out and it reminds me of the good times we had in our garden. The annual nesting of blue tits, chirping loudly from the bird box secured within the mighty conifer tree. The late lazy afternoon's sly fox would soak up the rays on the lawn. The buzzing of bees busily collecting nectar from the cherry blossom. Just heaven!
Over 13 years we transformed the overgrown, weed-filled and run down garden into a landscaped wildlife-friendly haven. Here are a few components you might like to add to your garden.
Get Garden Ready
Do you have an idea of what you would like in your garden or, you might have a plan in mind, inspired by a visit to Tuscany or possibly Japan?
Did you know that you can hire an expert, not only in garden design but also in Feng Shui? They can assist in all elements from a design, right through to installation. Feng Shui takes into specific areas of the garden that are linked to areas of your life, from family to health and wealth. That water feature might not be the best in your wealth area!
The easiest place to start is with the hard landscaping. We were lucky that we had some of the foundations already in place, such as the large concrete slabbed area. We also liked the privacy, the row of mighty conifers gave us. They were also homes to birds, squirrels and provided other habitats. We hired a tree surgeon, who came once a year to prune. You could also screen with a high fence or another type of natural hedge such as beech, pivot or holly.
You might also like to assign each of the areas a different zone for example herb garden, sitting area, entertaining area etc.
Focal Points Of Interest
If your garden design is inspired by a trip to Tuscany you might like to instal an Italian style sculpture or in my case, a sitting Buddha. These can be put in plain view, drawing your eye to the end of the garden or perhaps signifying the centre of a maze. What will you choose to be the focal point of your garden?
Lighting comes in all shapes, sizes, solar and hard-wired. We had tried solar lanterns, which had worked for a little time but once riddled with water, they couldn't be salvaged.
Lighting can be purchased from many locations. After researching on the internet we found some we really liked at B&Q. The soft brushed steel lanterns were ideal for our oriental style garden. There was also a matching wall light available, which we attached to the summer house. Ideal not just as evening lighting but good security too. They were easy to install, as we had already put in outdoor electrics to the summer house. We just needed to run some plastic conduit tubing (to protect the electrical cables from the elements), under the decorative stones to where the lights were going to be placed and an electrician too!
Now comes the fun part, planting. It's good to include different textures, all year round interest and have a colour scheme. You might also like to include wildlife-friendly plants. If you have pets and children be aware some plants can be toxic and have sap that is a skin irritant. Keep in mind that some plants also prefer certain conditions ie shady, full sunlight, partial sunlight, clay soil, alkaline and acid. You might like to do a soil sample to find out what you have in your garden.
We went for pink and purple colours throughout the garden (woodland, hanging baskets, tubs and climbers), pink climbing roses, purple lavender, purple iris, pink foxgloves, purple bluebells etc. Sometimes it can be trial and error. We tried a few plants and bulbs that just didn't thrive such as hellebore and crocus. I think the squirrels feasted on the crocus. You can also use the planting to screen off areas, create privacy or add security.
There are a few things to consider when investing in garden furniture, such as the size of your patio, weatherproofing or will it need to be stored over winter? Do you plan to be out there for long periods in the sun or just a quick read of the latest magazine?
We have changed our garden furniture over the years from an FSC wooden picnic bench with a preset hole for parasol, metal garden swing to a plastic bistro garden set with additional chairs for visitors. I had purchased some purple spray paint to give the furniture a new lease of life, never got around to it. Not sure now about the colour, what do you think?
An extra room in the garden can be really handy! It could be used as an office, for storage or a garden room. Did you know it can also add value to your home and make a faster house sale?
We loved the idea of a summer house when we first moved in, we had ample room and was brilliant to sit in throughout all kinds of weather.
After researching online we found a great deal with Ribble Valley Sheds (bought via eBay in 2010) where they delivered the 10 x 6 pent style summer house very quickly. We painted the inside with the Ronseal fence life plus sage matt fence and shed paint. The wood was very thirsty, we stopped after the 4th coat. After reading reviews about this paint, I wouldn't recommend it! The outside walls and doors were painted with the Ronseal one coat fence life red cedar matt, which we have used many times over the years across all the garden fences, garden hut and summer house. There is always some leftover, which stores well for a long period of time, in the garden hut. With having lots of birds and squirrels visiting the garden, the roofing felt didn't last. Instead of replacing all the felt, we opted to try Thompsons 10 year roof seal in black. Wow, does what it says on the tin! Easy to apply and nice finish. There are two quantities available, we opted for the larger 4L which isn't that much more and stores well. By the end of last summer, we had used it not only on the summer house but the garden hut and also my sister's garden hut and recommended it to several other family members. We would definitely use it again.
To decorate we made some pretty bunting and pinned it into the wood. You can buy flat material quarters online, craft and D.I.Y shops. I saw some lovely ones in Hobbycraft and bought them alongside some white bias binding & thread.
You can't go wrong with shelves. These galvanised shelves from Ikea are really easy to build. I also bought the large peace lily plant, pink pail, two small wooden crates and battery operated lights.
A garden hut is essential to store away any gardening tools, lawnmower, strimmer and of course garden furniture during the winter months. We were lucky to have inherited ours from the previous homeowner. It wasn't in bad condition but we re-located it to the other side of the garden and placed a composter to the side of it. We did consider erecting a water-butt but never got that far (one for the list at our next abode).
I hope you have enjoyed reading and inspired to create the garden of your dreams. As always, I would love to hear from you with any comments or questions you may have. You can reach me via email. You can also now support me via buy me a coffee. This allows me to keep writing and give you awesome content to read.
Until next time, thanks for supporting me and happy gardening.