Planning Garden from Scratch

Assuming that you have neighbours and need or want to demark your boundary, what do you want to look at? Trees? A hedge? A fence? Let’s consider a few alternatives.

    • Wire fence – not pretty but you can grow climbing plants up it and bushes in front and eventually, it will become invisible (and so will your neighbours).
    • Wood panel fencing – not too bad to look at but you will need to paint or spray on some sort of preservative. Creosote is quite cheap but smells horrible and damages plants (don’t forget there may be some on the other side of the fence). Other preservatives cost a bit more but come in a variety of colours so you can have a light or dark wood or even green or blue if you want. This will need redoing every couple of years depending on weather conditions where you live. If you have concrete posts and the panels need replacing, you can just slide the old ones out and the new ones in. Wooden posts need to be embedded in cement as do concrete ones but wooden ones frequently rot so you will need to replace the post and dig out and replace the cement.
    • Wooden rail and overlapping plank fencing – each plank needs to be nailed to the horizontal rails. It looks nice but also needs a protective coating. It can be cheap and easy to repair if only a few planks rot at a time.
    • A hedge. No matter what you choose in terms of hedge plants, you will need to clip your hedge at least once a year to keep it tidy. When choosing, you need to decide whether you want evergreen or deciduous, how tall you want it to be, what soil it needs and how quickly you want it to grow. My advice would be to choose something which will grow to the required height and no more and only needs annual pruning. Don’t forget that conifers such as Leylandii grow very quickly and can lose foliage at the bottom if they’re not kept in check. In addition, nothing else will grow below them and they may well end up blocking out both your and your neighbours’ light, particularly if your garden is not large.


Do you want a lawn? Bear in mind that it will need watering in dry spells, feeding about twice a year, mowing at least once a week in the growing season (including tidying up the edges), aerating occasionally, scarifying to remove the dead bits underneath and worse still, kept weed free. On the plus side, mowing etc. can be very therapeutic and satisfying, a well-kept lawn is lovely underfoot and much nicer to look at than concrete. Of course you can always invest in Astroturf for the same effect!

Hard Landscaping

If you ever saw the popular TV series “Ground Force”, you will know that there are endless possibilities for hard landscaping. You can have a paved patio or a wooden deck, raised flower beds of stone or brick, or terraced flower beds and steps if your garden slopes. Ou can have paths of gravel or pebbles or coloured slate or stepping stones. You can have pebbly or gravelled areas with artistic arrangements of plant-filled pots, coloured china balls and any other garden ornament you can think of. How about a deck or other seating area away from the house to catch the last of the evening sun?