Garden design for inherited gardens: three tips for tackling the outside space attached to your new home
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when we bought a new house, we also loved the new garden that comes with it? Whilst most of us can see how a fresh lick of paint or a new kitchen can make a new home feel like ours, the same doesn’t seem to apply to our outdoor spaces we ‘inherit’ when we buy a new property.
We get so many calls from customers who have just moved in to a new home, but don't like the garden. It might have been the perfect garden for the previous homeowners, but for one reason or another it isn't going to be right for them now that they live there. Here are our top three tips for getting to grips with an ‘inherited’ garden:
1. What makes a garden perfect for us?
Let’s begin by being really clear about what want our garden to be like. Do we want a spacious seating and entertaining area? Do we need lots of room for our children to play? Do we want our garden to be dog-friendly? Do we long for a pond to attract wildlife? Do we want lots of areas for plants? Let’s create a ‘wish list’, but let’s also give some thought to what we don’t want or need.
2. Be clear about what is successful and what needs to improve
Once we have a definite idea of what we would ideally like on our wish list, we can assess how the garden we’ve inherited measures up. Is the patio large enough? Will reshaping the lawn create space for the ‘wildlife friendly’ planting we’re so keen on? Can we create a better view from the kitchen window by moving the shed?
3. Don’t be frightened to make changes
Just because the last people in the house liked it, doesn’t mean that it has to appeal to us. We wouldn’t live with garish wallpaper if it wasn’t to our taste, so why do we seem to feel the need to live with a garden feature (or plant) we don’t like?
The best advice we can give is to be ruthless. A good garden should give us pleasure, and life is far too short to be tolerating things we don’t like if we don’t have to. It doesn’t matter how much it might have cost when it was new, if changing something in the garden will make it better for us then we owe it to ourselves to try to do it.
Now, obviously there is often a cost to making changes. We should always think carefully about the environmental considerations of replacing our paving or other garden structures, so let’s see if they can be reused by someone else rather than consigning them to landfill. We also need to be realistic and accept that the inside of the house will usually take priority initially. But, if we value our outdoor space, and are clear about the changes we want to make, it is often possible to make huge improvements to a garden with a relatively small outlay.