Garden design for boring gardens: 3 steps to using garden design to make a garden less boring
Come on then, hand’s up all of those people who are truly happy with their garden.
I doubt that many people would be able to say that they are, although of course not everyone might be able to say why. Here at Tythorne Garden Design we are often contacted by people who tell us that they find their garden boring, and so we thought it might be useful to offer our three steps for using garden design to make things better:
1. Define why we think our garden is boring: being clear about what needs to be improved
The first task for any professional garden designer visiting a garden for the first time is to establish exactly why their customer thinks their existing garden is boring. It sounds obvious doesn't it, but it is remarkably common for people to have somehow overlooked asking themselves the difficult questions. What is it about the space that makes us think it is boring? Is it the layout? Is it the lack of a sense of direction and purpose? Is it because the planting is too 'samey'?
It can often be difficult for put us to put our finger on exactly why we feel that our garden isn’t working for us, particularly if we have been living with it for a long time. As with many other things, it can be easy to fall into a trap of thinking that we know what the issues are without actually taking the time to think it through carefully or rationally.
Once we have a list of things we don't like, it is worth trying to work through them again to see which we can change relatively easily, and which we are going to be difficult (or even impossible) to do anything about (e.g. because of the physical constraints of the space). If we are going to get anywhere we’re going to need to focus on the things that can be improved, rather than getting bogged down with those that can’t. We need a PMA (positive mental attitude), as a former colleague of mine was find of saying...constantly!)
2. Focus on what our ideal garden looks like, feels like, sounds like and smells like: being clear about what we want to achieve
Again, this might sound obvious, but it is amazing how often we don’t actually clearly identify what our ideal garden will look like, or how it might make us feel when we spend time in it. This is another vitally important step for the garden design process, because without a clear idea of what we would like to achieve it is almost impossible to begin the process of trying to achieve it. I believe that it is also impossible for a garden designer to really help a customer if he or she doesn't really know what their ideal garden would be like.
At this stage, it really doesn’t matter if the things we identify for our ideal garden are actually realistic for our existing space. It’s more about imagining our perfect garden, and letting our mind be open to new thoughts and ideas. There are lots of horribly over-used phrases or terms that apply for this sort of activity (such as ‘brainstorming’ or ‘thinking outside of the box’…urgghh!), but the basic principle is sound.
We need to try to let our mind wanders, and resist the temptation to dismiss ideas too early just because they initially seem far-fetched. We might find it useful to do this over a glass of wine or two (if that's our thing), or ask we might a friend to help if we feel it would be beneficial.
3. Consider what bits of our ideal garden we can practically implement: being clear about we can achieve
Once we’ve got a good idea of the things we’d like to have in our perfect garden (and have ideally written them down), then we can start to work through our list to see which ones might be suitable for our existing space.
A garden designer will be able to use the benefit of experience to 'fast-track' this process, but it is perfectly possible for everyone to do it on their own. Some ideas will be more appropriate than others. However much we might a large herbaceous border we really aren't going to be able to create one if we've only got a tiny courtyard garden. But, can we adapt these ideas? We might be able to incorporate the essence of that herbaceous border in our courtyard garden's planting scheme.
With a little imagination we may be very pleasantly surprised by how much of our ‘wish list’ can be included in the design of our new garden. Fortunately, we have a large number of online resources to help us with this process. A quick bit of online research this morning, for example, generated over 600,000 thousand results in response to my search for ‘garden arbour’. This included thousands and thousands of images to help us visualise what can be achieved. There are also great opportunities for online research with websites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz.
So, there we go. Maybe not an instant fix for our boring garden woes, but hopefully a few insider garden designer tips for starting the process of planning to enjoy our gardens more.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.