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How to create a garden with year-round interest

The UK may not have a Mediterranean climate, but homeowners can still enjoy their garden from spring to winter. All the garden needs is ‘good bones’ – well-thought-out hardscaping – and good seasonal planting.

By hardscaping , we mean paths, paving, gravel, walls, fencing, benches, arbours, pergolas – these could be made from concrete, brick, stone, wood or metal, just make sure that the style and palette work with the style and decoration of the house in question. However, don’t be tempted to introduce too many elements or materials as it will look crowded and fussy. It is important to link the inside with the outside, particularly in an urban environment where the kitchen or family room invariably leads straight into the outside space nowadays.

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Also bear in mind that town gardens are often in constant view, which means the detailing has to be perfect. Opt for high-quality materials and high-spec appliances like in-built seating and BBQs for a luxurious finish. Pay attention to the size of the paving and the combination of surfaces, textures, finishes and colours – because the concrete, stone, paints and render all need to work together. Details and edging need to be precise and accurate. Simplicity is key for an elegant-looking garden.

It is also worth considering the inclusion of a fire pit, fire bowl or fireplace into a design project. They work really well because they extend the life of the garden, making it a warmer and more sociable place to relax and entertain friends and family late into the evening, and not just in the summer. Another option is the use of electric heat strips which can be attached to arbour plinths, discreetly, out of view.

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Viewing the garden as an outdoor room means there are plenty of other ideas to consider: outdoor kitchens, bars, hot showers, jacuzzis, studio/workshops, drum rooms and even ‘dancefloor’ terraces. A sculpture focal piece will also look good all year round.

Good-quality, discreet garden lighting is a really important factor when designing a garden with year-round interest as it looks wonderful but it also creates additional living space, particularly in town gardens, where today’s lifestyles mean that, for six months of the year, the garden is often only seen at night. But, do not even attempt to install exterior lighting without expert advice – it is very difficult to install correctly and has to be certified, like all household lighting. A subtle combination of spots, up- and downlighters, ‘moonlighting’ and step and path lights gives a totally different view of the garden, and makes the outdoor space usable throughout the year, and provides a fun environment to be enjoyed even in the winter.

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Charlotte Rowe Garden Design reinterprets classical formal design and makes it contemporary, with strong architectural-style garden designs, and structural planting, complemented by modern outdoor furniture and lighting. Our planting style is soft, luxuriant to soften the lines.

Use a simple palette of colours for planting which should have some structure, but not too wide a selection of plants. Repetition and rhythm is the key particularly in small gardens as, if the planting palette is too varied, it looks fussy and fiddly. Ideally, the colours should complement the house decor. Less is more in design and layout terms but in small gardens we like to almost ‘over-plant’ the beds so that the planting contrasts well with our pared-back and architectural hard landscaping.

‘Green architecture’ – structural evergreen shrubs, such as clipped Buxus or Taxus balls and low hedging, not only set a formal mood, but will also give a garden year-round interest. Combine this with evergreen grasses and perennials to create a range of texture. Also plant bulbs which will flower in early spring and summer to get a continuous display of colour and variety.

the independent hotel show

the independent hotel show

the independent hotel show

the independent hotel show

the independent hotel show

charlotterowe.com

 

 

 

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