Gardens are often neglected because many people are uncertain how to tackle them. Outdoor spaces are also generally at the end of a long list of other home improvements. However, the benefit of being able to go out into the garden and having extra space really can make life in the home far easier, so it is understandable that you want to get it right first time, but where to start?
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Designed by Land Morphology, and often called one of the 'most significant gardens in Connecticut' – The InSitu Garden – integrates hard landscaping, abundant plantings and modern art to create a spiritually and emotionally inspiring garden. See how you can recreate elements of this glorious space in your own backyard.
1. To have a garden lawn or not?
If you love the idea of grass, but don't have much time for mowing, faux grass could work for you. Nowadays, artificial grass looks really quite realistic and it needs little care or attention. A real lawn is still unbeatable in terms of comfort underfoot and for lying down on a picnic blanket with a good book. It does take some effort, but it also brings rewards.
Whatever option you choose, the trick is to be realistic about the amount of time you want to spend tending to your garden. What you don't want to happen is that it becomes overgrown and full of weeds.
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2. Look to low-maintenance landscaping
If you have a small – or large – space and you want a low-maintenance garden (without hours of mowing and weeding), consider garden paving stones or decking throughout. You don't need to include any flower beds in a grassless garden – simply dot potted trees and plants around for interest and color.
3. Plant to perfection
Once you have worked out your garden layout, you can get started on deciding what to grow in your garden.
Generally, most garden plants thrive in a sunny area with well-draining soil. If it's a south-facing garden so much the better. Try to provide plants with some shelter from the wind, such as a fence, but do avoid shading them too much (such as with a big tree).
Also avoid planting next to hedges, where the soil tends to be quite dry. If your garden doesn't have much sun, there are still plenty of plants you can choose, such as Alchemilla mollis, Geranium nodosum and Campanula persicifolia.
4. Set up a shaded spot
A cooling spot for designed purely as a retreat, will make your garden a joy to use all day long, so be sure to set up a shaded area in your space.
There is an enormous benefit to having a shaded garden – privacy. A pergola-covered terraces and tall trees are just some of the design features that will transform a shady space into a secluded sanctuary. Bliss!
- See: Shade garden ideas – simple design and planting tips for your outdoor room
5. Introduce movement and sound with water
Whether great or small, country or urban, a pond or water feature is the perfect solution for any garden. Creating a water feature brings something really special to the garden, encouraging wildlife and offering the opportunity to introduce new flowers, foliage, movement and soothing sound.
6. Add interest with sculptures
If you thought garden art and sculptures were out of reach for an ordinary garden, think again. Take inspiration from traditional Japanese garden ideas by creating a walkway or path to the next phase in your garden.
Many Japanese gardens have boundaries that aren’t intended as physical barriers. These unintended 'gates' give visitors a sense of discovery, and will make a garden feel bigger by dividing it.
7. ... and modern art
Modern works are liberated from the confines of a gallery and prove a surprising fit for this traditional American garden. Humour can have its place in the garden although, like art itself, the choice of pieces is highly subjective. Overly comical sculptures can grow tiresome in time, but a quirky installation, such as these mirrored monoliths, can be a permanent asset to the garden.
8. Build a shed for storage – or pottering
For many people, the garden shed is an extension of their home where the rules don’t apply – or where they can simply while away the hours.
Seen from the outside, a garden shed appears nothing more than a tool storage unit, but open the doors, and a cornucopia of other stuff is revealed. Try turning this often unloved space into a stylish She-shed – complete with cozy couch and study area.
9. Invest in a refreshing pool
From compact swim spas for tiny terraces to natural swimming ponds in landscaped grounds, the latest designs for a pool can be tailored to match any style home or garden.
In a small city garden, use plants, screens and canopies to shield your pool from neighbours’ windows and to disguise it during the winter when it will be covered. A round or rectangular plunge pool that doubles as a water feature will create a beautiful focal point when it is revealed as you walk through the garden.
If space allows, go big. Infinity-edged pools offer an exciting swimming experience, blurring the line between the water and landscape beyond. Ideal for a contemporary garden with panoramic views, infinity pools are the designers’ choice for modern settings.
10. Mow a garden path
There’s much more to paths than just a walkway to get you from A to B, and they don’t have to be paved, or even feature any hard landscaping at all.
Here, a simple lawn path is not only easy easy to do, you can personalize it by making it as twisty as you like. Plant wild flowers – or wheat – for an unruly, spontaneous garden path.
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