Want to change your garden but don’t know how to get started?

Want to change your garden but don’t know how to get started?

Read our step by step guide on how to change your garden.

If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that our outdoor spaces are incredibly important.  But what if your garden never ceases to disappoint? Is it cluttered? Difficult to maintain? Muddy? Boring? Overlooked? Or just unappealing?  That’s where a little bit of planning and some design inspiration can really help to transform your life.  Let’s take a look at ways that you could change your garden and break the process down into bite sized chunks.

neglected garden with bistro set, worn out lawn and randomly place plants in pots

If your outdoor space doesn’t enhance your lifestyle, we’re here to inspire you with ideas that will change your garden for the better

How to set out on the journey to change your garden

  1. Write a list of how you would like to use your garden
  2. Decide which of the existing features need to stay
  3. Are there any materials, plants or features that you could reuse?
  4. Build yourself a mood board with ideas for your new garden
  5. Set a budget for your garden improvements
  6. Contact a professional garden designer to pull all of your ideas together
  7. Get building! (Or hire a reputable landscaper to bring your design to life)

How would you like to use your garden?

If you could solve all of the problems with your garden, what would you use it for?  As garden designers, it’s part of our remit to make your garden feel more useable.  And we have a huge raft of tools to help us do that.  We know how to improve privacy and security, how to overcome problems with drainage, make the most of a shaded garden or make a tiny plot feel enormous.

So just for a moment, forget about all of the problems you think your garden has, and let your imagination run riot.

Picture yourself on a sunny afternoon.  The weather is wonderful, you’ve got no commitments and you wander outside into your lovely garden to do…..what?

  • Relax on a sunbed?
  • Enjoy a good cup of coffee or a glass of something more potent?
  • Read a book?
  • Catch up on some emails?
  • Work on a craft project?
  • Cook something delicious on your barbecue?
  • Spend time with friends and family?
  • Take your yoga practice out of doors?
  • Work on a craft project?
  • Train your dog?

I could keep adding to the list of suggestions but I’m sure you’re beginning to realise just how much potential your outdoor space really has. All you need to do is change your garden so that it accommodates all of the activities you want to use it for.

Start by listing all of those activities.

featureless back garden before being transformed by clever garden design

hard landscaping in rear garden with path and gravelled area

Before and after!  These pictures are of the same garden. Wouldn’t you like to change your garden so that it feels more welcoming?

Is there anything in your garden you can’t change?

Every garden has at least one feature that needs to stay put.  A mature tree, a garden building, the bin store, the neighbour’s boundary fence.  That’s OK, none of those things need to get in the way of your garden design. You can use screening to hide what you don’t want to look at and lighting to highlight fantastic features.

Some properties have restrictions on how you can and cannot change your garden – particularly front gardens. That’s OK too. As long as you know your limitations you can still create a brilliant design without compromising on looks or functionality.  

Don’t forget to double check planning regulations for your area.  Things like paving over your driveway or erecting a large garden building sometimes have rules associated with them.

Gathering Ideas

Kick start your garden transformation by searching magazines, books and TV programs for design inspiration.  Even better – put your coat on and go and visit a few gardens.  Create a mood board, a photo album or a Pinterest board and use it to collate all the things you love.  Think about colour schemes, furniture, paving patterns, planting styles and accessories.  These will help to inspire you (or your garden designer) as you create a layout plan.

garden design mood board with several images

A garden design mood board created using Canva

Setting A Budget

If you want to change your garden you will need to spend some money.  First of all you will definitely need the services of a good garden designer. Then, you will need materials and labour to build the garden.  There may also be specialist tradespeople to hire too – electricians, brick layers, etc.

Please don’t be tempted to skip hiring a garden designer.  I know I’m biased, but honestly, we can save you an absolute fortune on the build, just by ensuring that the landscaper does actually build what you are expecting.  If you start a project without a proper plan, in the misguided opinion that the garden will ‘evolve’ itself; it’s very difficult for any landscaper to give you an accurate quote.  You’ll find that all of those ‘can you just’ or ‘maybe we could’ requests end up being very costly indeed.

Oh – and don’t be influenced by the costings you see on TV programs.  Those garden builds have been heavily subsidised by the production companies and the suppliers.  For the most part, the prices are out of date and very inaccurate. Work out what you can afford to spend on the whole project.  

Your garden designer should be able to create a design that can be built within budget.  If he or she can’t do so, they’ll explain why and give you a rough estimate of what it should cost to create your dream garden.

Choosing A Garden Designer

If you want to change your garden for the better, it’s always wise to hire a garden designer to help you.  A good garden designer does more than just suggest where features should sit in relation to each other. He or she will help you to imagine a truly inspiring space. Somewhere that you feel truly comfortable, somewhere that you can’t wait to spend time in.

Look for a garden design company who can show you lots of examples of their work.  Do you like their style? Talk to them on the phone – could you get along with this person? Do they seem to understand what you need from your garden? Can they help you to find a good landscaper to do the build?

Read our tips on how to find a great garden designer.  

Get inspired

Take a look at our portfolio of work for some great garden design ideas.

You might find these articles helpful too

How to create a garden design mood board.

How would you change your garden? 

Landscaping for Privacy.

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