Before getting to work on your garden design, take some time to really consider the project you have on your hands.

Before embarking on any ambitious planting, you need to assess and plan your garden as you would any other room in your home. Work out exactly what needs to be done so you can execute it accordingly.

planting evergreen tree

Work out the character

Before you get carried away with ideas about what your ideal garden might look like, you need to establish the personality of the garden you’ve landed up with. Its existing characteristics will determine what you can grow successfully. This will depend on the soil quality and the amount of sunlight your garden gets.

Be patient

Most experts advise that when you move house and inherit a new garden, you wait an entire year before embarking on any major work. That way, you get to see exactly what you have on your hands plant-wise, whatever the season or weather. If, however, you only have a concreted space or just a few beds to sort out, 12 months of observation time is probably not necessary.

Consider the climate

The weather is an immensely important factor in determining the health of your garden. You should choose plants which thrive on the kind of conditions you find in your location – whether windy, wet or sunny. Bear in mind that some plants will need special protection from certain adverse weather conditions.

Find out the aspect

The amount of light your garden receives throughout the day will depend on its aspect – in other words, the direction your garden faces. Work it out using a compass if necessary. On the whole:

  • North-facing gardens get the least light and can be damp and cold
  • South-facing gardens get the most light
  • East-facing gardens get morning light
  • West-facing gardens get afternoon and evening light

Soil, not toil

Getting well acquainted with the type of soil you have in your garden is essential if you want plants that will not just survive, but thrive. It’s important to identify whether your soil is sandy, silty, clay, loamy and so fortj, and to work on improving its condition if necessary.

Use the summer sun

Finally, you should spend a summer day observing how the sun interacts with different areas of your garden. Get your deck chair out, grab a good book and take the time to note down which sections get full sun all day, which are in shade for some of the day and which get no sun at all. You can then decide what to plant where. This preparatory information will also help you correctly place any seating areas – sun terraces just won’t work in the shade!

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Ailene Littleton

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