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Last month I wrote about garden design, and how to decide on which style you would like to choose for your own garden, plus more importantly whether to make it look ‘designed’ or not.  In this month’s article, as promised, we’re focusing on softening the design with planting.  Well designed gardens are a successful blend of hard and soft landscaping (eg paving and plants), but not until recently did it occur to me how you can achieve a great effect with very little in terms of hard landscaping.

If you are thinking about a new garden, total re design or just want to refresh a single border, it’s important to draw yourself a planting plan.  It’s not as scary as it sounds, and is really just like a large ‘paint by numbers’.  A plan will avoid expensive mistakes made by impulse purchases and will reduce maintenance in the long term.  The resulting garden will also look so much fuller, the plants much happier/healthier and you will feel proud of your creation instead of frustrated with your lack of ability.

First of all begin by enlisting the help of a gardening friend (or passer by with a tape measure) and get a blueprint of what’s there now.  Measure the boundaries of the borders; note any trees and hedges, fences and walls, shady spots and those in full sun too.  If you know which way the sun moves around the garden you will have much more success in choosing the right plants.

Draw the plan on paper, ideally to scale.  1:50 is a good size for the average garden (where 50cm in reality is 1cm on paper).  Then, using a selection of coins to draw around, fill the border with circles, starting at the rear of the border with the large shrubs and work towards the front with herbaceous perennials and annuals.  You can then layer bulbs in for extra spring and summer colour.  Think about colour, the times of year they flower and the eventual size they will grow too.  It’s a good idea to arm yourself with a good plant book or simply search the internet for inspiration.

September is a great time to plant, but here are some other jobs you can do at this time of the year:

  • Clip hedges for the final time this year
  • Sow lawn seed to thicken or establish a new lawn
  • Sow the last batch of lettuce
  • Plant some potatoes in the greenhouse for Christmas
  • Net ponds to prevent leaves falling into it
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs

Happy Gardening!