Planning your plot
Advertisement feature by Westbury Garden Rooms, Essex-based builders of bespoke garden rooms, orangeries, pool houses and roof lanterns, founded over 25 years ago, who share tips on how to plan gardens worth looking at from their rooms with a view.
You can still create a colourful, uplifting and useful ‘garden’ even if you have only the tiniest outdoor area to call your own. Now is the perfect time to clear out, spruce up and plan your planting for the warmer season to come.
Measure up your space
It’s important to know exactly how much space you have before you start planning. This will then mean that you can design appropriately, and with the correct proportions in mind. There’s no point planting something that will grow to epic proportions if your space is unable to handle it.
Meanwhile use this preparation time to sweep and clear any outside space you have, add or repair any screening, and clean pots and gardening tools in preparation for planting. Clear space on windowsills and balconies and identify anything you might need to pot-up or replant.
Consider the features
Is your space walled in? Have you got anything to hide – such as a utilities box? Is there something you want to incorporate – like an existing plant or wall feature? Assessing the structure of the space is important so that you can plan what goes where. Paying note to things like this means you can plant appropriately.
What weather features will your space be subjected to or need protection from? In an urban setting, any outside space you have might be completely walled in and sheltered. Therefore you’ll need to choose plants which thrive in shady conditions. Alternatively, if you only have balcony space or window boxes, then whatever you plant will be much more exposed – which is worth bearing in mind so that you don’t plant anything too delicate.
What do you want your garden or planting to do? Do you want it to be decorative, or functional – such as growing herbs or food plants for cooking?
Structuring your planting so that you get the best views from where you sit is also very important. Adding a chair and small table can make a huge difference, creating a feature for the garden and giving you a perspective from which to admire your labours. However, if you’ll mostly be enjoying the look of your patch from inside, then focus the planting to enhance this.
In most urban settings, it’s the horizontal space that’s lacking and vertical space which needs to be capitalised on and which helps create a more private space too. Stacked planters can be a great solution. Trellis, walls and fences can be installed and used to encourage wall climbers, hang pots for flowers, or mount guttering for planters.
Security might also be high on your priority list – if so, there are many thorny climbers which can double as deterrents to intruders, such as Chaenomeles speciosa, Colletia paradoxa and climbing roses, to name but a few. Whilst it requires patience for plants to mature, all these have the benefits of providing an element of security whilst producing lovely scented flowers when in bloom.
Planning the planting
Plan so that you have attractive blooms or crops throughout the seasons. Even in shady areas – which small urban spaces can often be – it’s possible to plant so that you have flowers blooming for most of the year.
Use different height plants to produce a visually stimulating view, with taller plants nearer to walls and boundaries and smaller, usually flowering plants near their bases, to give an illusion of depth – even within a small planting bed.
If you have space, perhaps in front of a wall or side of a house, grasses are a good choice of tall plant – many varieties can handle a wide range of conditions, and they provide beautiful shapes and colours, depending on the variety.
Think about complementary colours, textures, shapes and sizes and choose plants which make good companions for each other.