Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Landscaping in Practise


One of the winners of the Courier “Money Can’t Buy” competition got the prize of a visit from myself to give advice on any gardening matter they wished, in addition to £200 of vouchers from Dobbies Garden Centre and a meal out in their restaurant. The prize was very appropriate as Fiona Merrilees and her husband Scott from Lumphinans in Fife had a major problem with their new garden.
Scott is a builder and had just built a beautiful detached house in the country with an acre of land, but not a clue on what to do with it. The house was completed three years ago, but they had very little time to spare for sorting out the garden landscape as they both worked and had a young family. They desperately needed someone to advise them on how to make a start in creating a garden fitting to match the house.
Most garden landscaping follows the same creative path so although everyone has their own specific problems, these can all be sorted out by identifying personal requirements and site problems.
I thought it would be helpful for those readers in a similar position of having a new garden to landscape if I ran over the options for landscaping Fiona’s garden.

Site survey and analysis

Access is from a shared farm track with a proper road not yet in place.
Great views exist to the south and east and also to the north from the top of a bank.
The garden is still a large field running south down a slope to a burn at the bottom.
Adjacent fields are fenced off and mature trees to the west afford some shelter.
The site holds vehicles, machinery, caravan and useful stocks of builder’s materials.
At present the site is virtually devoid of trees, shrubs or useful garden plants, i.e. landscaping has not yet started.

Specific needs

Safe play area for young family
Attractive garden around the house, and ease of maintenance a priority.
Patio and seating area on the south and west of the house
Double garage
Henhouse for farm hens and kennels for four farm dogs
Hard standing for caravan, machinery and building materials
Ideas for land use for over half an acre of spare land.

The plan
(show detailed plan)

Excellent views to south and east must be retained
A patio facing south and west is required
A double garage with workshop space is required
Hard standing for vehicles and materials is necessary, but it must be screened from view.
A lawn in front of the house will add prestige to a lovely new home.
Permanent landscape plants around the house will blend it into the landscape, add interest and colour. Plant tubs will add a splash of colour with annual bedding plants.
Create a play area at the far end of the lawn
Consider options for spare land use

The landscape programme

This garden is big so landscaping will require a fair bit of resources, funding and labour, but most of the work will be done by Scott and Fiona as and when time and funds are available.
The first priority is to sort out the hard landscape features, (paths, drive, patio and hard standing areas).The hard landscaping could take between three to twelve months depending on time, labour and funding.
The double garage should go in before the roadworks at it will need services laid through the ground. Once complete the soil can be brought in as required and prepared for planting.
Nowadays with so many plants available in pots and large containers, planting is no longer restricted to the winter dormant season.
There is about just over half an acre of spare land to the south of the property which can be used for numerous purposes. Being in the country the obvious ones are grazing for ponies, a few sheep, cows or other farm animals. The land is also perfect for a small woodland, orchard or fruit farm with blackcurrants, blueberries or saskatoons.
There are always plenty of professional organisations available and willing to offer advice and sometimes help with funding to get these projects up and running and assist with advice with ongoing maintenance.
Next week I will be landscaping around the house, discuss the use of specific plants and look in greater depth to the use of the spare land.


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