Garden Design

for a Brand New Garden

Every garden is unique and special in its own way and when purchasing a new house, the garden should be considered, not in its current condition but for the potential future use of the space. Often new build homes have a high specification for the buildings but the budget has been blown when it comes to the landscaping. In many cases, the gardens of new built homes are insufficiently prepared for plants to thrive properly. On the plus side, this presents an opportunity for owners of new properties to really take ownership of their new garden. Having a blank canvas as a garden, should not be daunting.

In considering what to do with a brand new garden, one principle we always adhere to is that the garden should relate to the wider landscape. The transition from designed to natural surrounds is essential for a garden to ‘sit right’ and feel harmonious. For example, if you buy a property on a modern estate, a contemporary style would be more in keeping than a classic country cottage look.
1 1120This garden, on a new estate in Bourton-on-the-Water among the gentle rolling Cotswold Hills was a weed filled patch when the owners took possession. Although Bourton itself is in a wonderful location in a beautiful part of Gloucestershire, the house is surrounded by other similar properties, so although located in the Cotswolds, the classic Cotswold cottage look would have been out of keeping.2 1120The design brief was for as low a maintenance garden as possible. It was to be contemporary in style, with a water feature and various seating areas, to make the most of the sunny position. As is the case with many newly built properties, screening for privacy was a requirement. This can be achieved in various ways, here we used architectural Italian Cypress trees, Cupressus sempervirens, which give structure as well as form, creating an elegant backdrop to the design. In addition a wooden walkway, gives a feeling of enclosure, so the eye is no long drawn to the neighbouring property.3 1120This new built home near Bicester, Oxfordshire, was little more than a house with a surrounding field before we designed it. The rear garden is surrounded by woodland, which we decided to make the most of, following the principle of making the garden fit into its natural environment.4 1120Screening from the properties to the front in this case was achieved through the careful placing of pleached hornbeam trees. The effect is almost instantaneous.5 1120The trees beyond, create the perfect backdrop for this beautifully enclosed patio, with a seating area at the top level.6 1120For a design to really work, each part should flow seamlessly into the next, with paths and focal points to encourage you into the next area. This principle holds true not matter what size the garden. A simple walkway, scented hedge, path or piece of sculpture can entice you through and take you on a journey of discovery.71120After a dry summer, the grass was brown and most of the plants had died before the owners took possession of their new build property in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire. We set about creating a design that was in keeping with the rural setting and full of scented planting.8 1120A keen plants woman, our client had a very clear vision for how her garden should look. She knew that she wanted a natural, 'cottage' style garden, with roses being a particular favourite. Above all, this is a family garden, for all generations to enjoy.
91120The plans for the garden included re-designing the front and back spaces. We divided the garden into different sections, with space for growing vegetables in raised beds and a special area for the children's play equipment. The plants were chosen to give several seasons of interest and colours were combined to give an overall harmonious effect.10 1120Scented planted was incorporated into the design, especially in the seating areas. New trees were planted to give different heights and shady areas. The existing pine trees in the front garden were under-planted with a cheerful display of wild flowers for summer interest.11 1120A garden that is on a slope, as in this example, presents an opportunity to create new terraces, steps, and hidden seating areas as part of the transition. Garden steps and walls, although practical, can be interesting in their own right. Here we created some sleeper steps to transition from one part of the garden to another.

Different planting schemes can change the character of a garden dramatically. In a well-designed garden there should always be something of interest to see, whatever the time of year. Plants can be used to make a statement, to be seen and noticed. Whatever space we have in our garden, every inch can be used as a frame for our house and for all year enjoyment, in whatever way that might be.

Sheena Marsh is owner and designer at Oxford Garden Design.

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