If 2020 taught those of us without usable gardens anything, it was that staying at home can be a lot more pleasant when we have access to a green space outside. Creating your perfect garden for relaxing, sitting in, entertaining, eating al fresco, playing with the kids in or working outside in can be done with some careful planning and landscaping – but where to start? Whatever you’re in the market for green space wise, we’ve got you covered here.

A house with large open plan living area that opens up in to the garden with pool

Initial Planning: The elements to consider

Sketching out your ideas in some kind of practical plan drawing is the best way to initially work out how things could look. Taking into account the size of your garden, you need to factor in the following elements and in doing so, ensure the finished product will be easy to navigate and suitable for its primary purpose. Don’t forget to include the gradient of your garden in your planning – children’s play areas may not be best suited to sloping ground so ensure that all areas are appropriate for their intended use. 

  • Walls and boundaries
  • Paths and patios
  • Lawns
  • Hedges and fences
  • Zoning areas 
  • Planting
  • Lighting.

When all taken into consideration, if the balance looks right between areas and the aesthetic fits, more practical measures can be taken and work can begin.

The Concept of Landscaping

Landscape design is the outdoors version of interior design: scaping and shaping a green space rather than a room within a property. Landscape designers tackle the whole of a garden project covering the full scope from planting new beds to building walls, constructing terraces, hanging lights, erecting sheds or summerhouses and designing floral arrangements. Anything to do with the outdoor space is usually considered as part of the project and fits in their role. 

‘Hard landscaping’ refers to the structural elements of a garden such as patios, paving, pathways and sheds or summerhouses, and ‘soft landscaping’ the plants, grass, trees and planted areas. 

A landscaped garden with substantial patio area

Landscaping Materials

Landscaping materials are the resources used in the construction of a garden. Commonly, these include bricks, timber, decking, paving, aggregates, sand, concrete, render, mortar, damp proof membranes, landscaping fabrics, exterior paints and exterior finishing chemicals. 

Landscaping materials can be sourced from most large DIY and home improvement stores or through landscape designers who are able to source them directly from suppliers. 

In most cases, unless an entirely blank canvas is being worked with, waste removal will need to be considered and purchased: either with specialist collection or through the use of a skip. 

Consultation with neighbours

In the UK it is considered good etiquette to let those with neighbouring land know of any landscaping plans – particularly if there are to be large, loud or disruptive works. However, where dividing lines of property are shared, landscaping works or changes may require permission from the neighbouring landowner in writing in order to be able to legally continue. 

External Planning Permission requirements for garden landscaping works

Planning permission restrictions vary from geographical area to area across the country, but many works will not require any legal permission from a local authority. However, there are incidences in hard landscaping construction where planning permission is usually required. These include:

  • Where a wall of over one metre is to be constructed close to a road
  • Where a wall of over two metres is to be constructed
  • Where impermeable paving is to be laid
  • Where any hard landscaping is to be installed or removed in a conservation area
  • Where any hard landscaping is to be installed or removed in the grounds of a listed building
  • Where outbuildings are to be constructed beside a property 
  • Where decking or outbuildings are planned to take up 50% of more of the total garden space.

No matter the exact hard landscaping plans, the planning authority local to the property should be consulted to ensure that no planning breaches are being committed and that works can legally proceed. 

DIY Landscaping

Although large and major landscaping works may be best suited to a professional, there are plenty of resources available for those homeowners looking to landscape their green space as a DIY project. Most building materials for both hard and soft landscaping are available easily and at low cost from builders merchants, garden centres and DIY stores and in the case of larger materials, can usually be delivered. Where machinery such as cement mixers or diggers are required, these can be hired from specialist firms.

Bricks, blocks, tiles and slabs are fairly straightforward to install when building along straight lines and in conventional patterns, and for curved or gradient shapes, more flexible materials such as poured concrete, drystone or gravel can be employed without the need to include a builder.

A landscaped garden with pathways and lots of well established plants and shrubs

Choosing plants

Researching the right plants for a garden ahead of time and seeking advice on them can help ensure that the right balance of seasonal plants is achieved across the garden. A mixed selection of trees, shrubs and flowers provides year-round interest and can be selected to best work with the existing soil and aspect of the space. Larger hedges and trees lend structure and direct flow to a garden and then to add colour, bedding plants and bulbs can be strategically placed along the way. Potted flowers and plants along paved and patio areas can help give character as well as colour to dull hard spaces. 

All planted areas should be drained adequately and cared for however the directions suggest upon purchase. Advice on plants can be provided by garden centre workers and from landscape gardeners as well as online and from books and other gardening resources. 

Landscaping a garden can be an exciting journey to embark on either with the support of a professional or as a personal project. With the best laid plans come the best planned gardens – suitable for a whole host of outdoors fun, year-round and for all the family. 

Take a look at this stunning garden transformation our Refresh team in Surrey completed. Following on from an extensive interior renovation, our team helped this family extend their luxurious indoor living to their garden.

Get in touch! 

Whether you want to create a new outdoor room – or landscape your garden area – the team at Refresh Renovations can help you turn over a stunning new leaf! We have house and landscape designers who can discuss all the options with you so get in touch today.

All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.

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