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  • Writer's pictureSarah Kay

Designing for improvement of an existing garden - the challenge.

Often I get approached by potential customers who are looking to improve a part (or elements) of their garden but not looking for an overall redesign. These projects can be quite tricky as often there are elements in the garden that I would ideally change, but the budget or client preference restricts this.

My E11 Naturalistic Planting Design is predominantly a new planting design but I've recommended additional elements which I think improve the overall design of the garden.

Existing garden

The existing garden, which was landscaped 6 years ago, consists of a large patio area and steps (although not large enough to seat more than 2), raised beds around 3 sides with lower flower beds in front and a perimeter path around a lawn. The boundaries were approx1m higher than the raised beds, meaning that the left hand side was dominated by the neighbours garden room.

Left had side of garden dominated by neighbours garden room

Much of the original planting, which tended to focus on ornamental grasses and Summer and Autumn flowering perennials, had failed and been replaced by a variety of plants. Many of the grasses were overgrown and the planting in the lower beds was virtually non existent, as the irrigation system had not been installed for these beds.

My initial recommendation, as the lawn was only used for decoration, was to remove the lawn and create a gravel garden with organic curved beds, trees and flexible seating areas but my client did not like this idea and wanted to keep the lawn.

The agreed plan was to extend the left hand and back fencing with Venetian trellis by 45cm, in line with the patio fence, which would provide privacy from next door and screen most of the shed at the back of the garden.

New Venetian trellis and multi stem Betula

Multi stem Betula jacquemontii would also be positioned along the left hand boundary to give some height and Winter colour to the design. This will be balanced with a Betula in the back right hand raised bed. The existing Taxus baccata cones were positioned evenly around the beds to provide some evergreen structure, and the lower left hand bed was extended by removing the left hand path. This allows for more tiered planting of shrubs, grasses and herbaceous which will look great throughout the seasons. Key plants include Calamagrostis brachytricha, Carex coman 'Frosted Curls', Astrantia 'Star of Billion' and Hylotelephium 'Herbstulfreude'. Spring bulbs will provide early season colour.

Additional evergreen climbers have been included between the existing Wisteria, with Hydrangea anomala petiolaris on the shady boundaries and Trachelspermum jasminoides on the sunny sides.

The connection between the house and garden will be improved with large terracotta troughs containing shade tolerant perennials and climbers growing down the newly installed metal railings.

The soil will improved with composted manure and grit to help with drainage and a new irrigation system has also been installed to ensure consistent watering of the garden when my clients are away at their second home.

Improving an existing garden is always a challenge but I hope that the new elements achieve the client objectives of increased privacy and colourful planting for all seasons.

Planting begins on Monday - watch this space for the completed project.

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