Where do I start?

Imagine yourself relaxing on the patio enjoying the summer sunshine and thinking about your beautiful garden with butterflies alighting on your gorgeous flowers……. there’s only one problem, when you open your eyes, it’s a sea of mud and weeds!
In this section we look at the first considerations when planning a new garden.

What's the ground like?

In an ideal world you’ll have good, deep, well-cultivated loam for your border, but most of us aren’t that lucky, so depending on the depth and quality of your existing soil, you may need to add additional topsoil.   Even with the best topsoil, we’d suggest forking in plenty organic matter such as farmyard manure because it improves the texture of the soil, helps with moisture and adds a base level of nutrients.

Will Mother Nature help or hinder?

Whilst we can do many things to help our gardens grow, but it’s difficult to fight the elements of nature.  So take stock before you begin and work around the inevitabilities of sun, wind and weather to get best results.

Sunlight is arguably the most important factor when planning the garden, so take time to see how the sun moves around your garden.  Identify the sun traps and the shady spots, and don’t forget that the sun will be lower in spring and autumn and may not get high enough to reach parts of the garden at certain times of year.  And if there are fences, mature trees or other obstacles around,  think about the amount of shade they’ll cast at different times of year.

Another very important consideration is the direction of the prevailing wind.  After all, it would be unfortunate to build your patio in the most exposed part of the garden.  In East Lothian the prevailing wind tends to come from the west, but arguably the coldest, most damaging winds are those that come from the north and the east – although thankfully these are less frequent!

 

 

 

Planning what'll go where

By now you’ve worked out if you have enough soil and you’ve identified the areas of light and shelter.

The next stage is to decide how you want to use your garden – is it a play area for children and dogs, are you planning to perfect your putting, are you dreaming of the fresh produce you can grow, or is your garden another room in which you can relax and enjoy the company of friends and family?

Deciding the purpose of the garden will allow you to plan according to your priorities.

A play area
If your garden is to be used as a playground, you’ll need a hard-wearing grass that’ll stand up to rough and tumble.  For more information on laying a lawn click here

The perfect lawn
Maybe you’ve always dreamt of your own putting green lawn, or you simply want a fine lawn that looks perfect when you mow it.  The key is in the preparation of the ground and the choice of grass seed.  To weigh up the options click here

Grow your own food
There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh, healthy herbs, fruit & veg that you’ve grown yourself – and you’ll know that they’re chemical-free too.  For more information on what you can grow, click here

Flowers for the garden & home
When you sit back to enjoy the fruits of your labour, you’ll want a lovely view from the patio.  To get ideas about the plants you can use to creat that lovely view click here

Outdoor living
Sitting comfortably to enjoy your garden, – or still trying to work out what’s the best furniture for you?  To get some pointers on the furniture that’ll be best for you and your garden, and how to make sure you’re getting good value and quality click here

Summer evenings in the garden

Lighting the garden has never been easier, but how do you sort out the best solution for your garden?  To look at the various possibilities and see what’s best for you click here

 

Some plants to consider for your patio view:

Lupins

Fabulous spikes of flowers.
Huge range of colours
Ideal for the back or centre of the border

Geum ‘Cooky’

Vibrant orange flowers.
Fairly low-growing so ideal for the front or edge of the border.

Centaurea ‘Amethyst Dream’

Unusually shaped, gorgeous dark flowers.
Works well in the mid level of the border.

Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’

Masses of yellow flowers on glossy green foliage.
Fills well at mid or front level

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

An all-time favourite herbaceous geranium producing masses of blue flowers.
Excellent for the lower edges of the border

Verbascum ‘Dark Eyes’

A compact variety of this perennial favourite.
Grows to about 30cm (1ft)

Veronica spicata

A compact version of Veronica with
striking blue spikes

Penstemon

Available in a wide range of different colours and heights.
The one shown is  ‘Pheonix Red’

Alcea (Hollyhock)

Very tall, ideal for the back of the border.
Dramatic and showy, available several colours.

Cirsium atropurpureum

Tall spikes of thistle-like flowers on a bed of low-growing foliag

Gallardia ‘Sunset Cutie’

Sometimes known as the ‘Blanket Plant’.
Long flowering season, attractive to butterflies.

Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’

Available in a wide range of different colours and heights.
The one shown is  ‘Pheonix Red’