All too often the garden becomes almost an after thought and the last priority in a restricted home improvement budget. For me this is a travesty, as the garden is probably the largest room of the house and deserves the same thought and design afforded to the kitchen, living room or bathrooms. It is very often the feature which can make the difference between selling a home or not.
Even small London or city gardens, where space is a premium, can be transformed into a haven of architectural foliage and fabulous areas for summer dining and entertaining, adding not only value to the home, but a new dimension to living space. Remember, the garden should not be considered as a separate entity, but more as an extension of the living room. In our short summers it should be a magnet drawing family and friends to it at every available opportunity, and in winter the view should be one which serves to remind that spring is not too far away.
The design and planning of a garden is the starting point. The chosen style and design should reflect the home and not be at odds with it. One needs to begin by addressing any unsightly features. Even an ugly view can be softened with careful thought to planting. Equally, privacy should be protected without the prying eyes of neighbours overlooking. Once again this can usually be achieved with strategic planting. Common garden fences can be camouflaged, as can sheds, which may serve as essential storage, but lend absolutely nothing to the overall design.
The next priority is the patio, the size of which should at the very least, accommodate the occupants of the household, and if space allows, provide for entertaining. Tables and chairs should fit comfortably with plenty of room to walk around, and the golden rule of never blocking the entrance from the house into the garden always adhered to. Ideally, patio depths should be a minimum of 4 metres. Quite simply, skimpy patios look awful.
The hard landscaping of the garden and the choice of materials is paramount and whilst budget may ultimately dictate the finishes, always try to aim for the best you can afford. For example, cheap pine decking looks like a budget finish from the day it is installed, let alone after a year or two, when it will become a slippery algae covered liability unless regularly maintained. A good quality hardwood deck, on the other hand, will look beautiful for many years to come with very little maintenance and in the grand scheme of things, the extra cost is money well spent. In a contemporary or minimalist garden where the emphasis really focuses on the hard landscaping, the quality of the materials becomes even more relevant.
For those who live in an apartment or are denied a garden, remember that flat roofs or terraces can equally be transformed into very inviting and useful outdoor spaces, although a roof garden maybe subject to planning. Many plants and even trees are quite happy to spend their lives in containers providing they are kept watered and the nutrients in the soil replaced. With the benefit of computerised irrigation and slow release fertilisers this is very easy.
Now we come to the design itself. For those seeking something a little different from their garden, many would be surprised to learn that even in our less than perfect English climate, it is possible to create a tropical looking garden utilising a host of exotic plants from around the world which will not only survive, but literally flourish even enduring snow, ice and the harshest of winters.
Just imagine a sub-tropical paradise of palm trees, bamboo, big leaf architectural plants such as banana and all here in the UK. This works particularly well in small London and inner city gardens creating an instant impact with dense tropical foliage, creating a real urban jungle. Even though one can be more adventurous in the city where the micro climate allows for more tender plants, it is possible to create an exotic garden in all but the coldest parts of the UK.
Tropical gardens play with different textures of foliage and colour is used in splashes of hot vibrant reds, oranges and yellows provided by exotic flowers such as cannas and gingers. Natural materials such as hardwood decking and terracotta work particularly well with this design theme as do ponds and water features. Creating an exotic garden full of drama is an exciting and different approach to your garden design, and with evergreen trees and shrubs interest is created throughout the seasons.
For larger gardens one can also create a more structured and manicured look imitating some of the great gardens of the Mediterranean. Stately palms and other spiky plants work well together in the company of cypress trees and other trees and shrubs normally associated with the warm dry regions of the world. In spring and summer the garden should become a riot of colour led by trees like acacia dealbata, which literally lights up the sky with gorgeous mimosa flowers.
For those who prefer a more minimalist approach to their garden design, contemporary garden design shifts the emphasis from planting to the hard landscaping. Unsightly fences can be disguised by camouflaging them with slatted Venetian cedar. The contemporary garden design has bold lines, strong shapes, and absence of any fuss, pure form, strong structure and 21st century techno. The garden should lend itself to entertaining and low maintenance, although whilst planting is minimal, it is architectural and should make a strong statement. Finally, mood lighting is an essential ingredient, not only within the contemporary garden, but for any style of garden, making the largest room of the home a room for living by day as well as by night.
Based in north London, Urban Tropics is not just a business concept, it was an idea born from a lifetime study and love of landscape design. My team are highly qualified landscapers and feel as passionate about creating beautiful contemporary and exotic gardens, roof terraces, roof gardens and balconies as I do. Past projects range from small city gardens and balconies in London to villas in the South of France working with both private and corporate clients. We specialise in exotic, contemporary and minimalist landscape garden design in London, Home Counties and UK creating modern low maintenance gardens ranging from small garden design to family garden design, roof garden design, balcony design, terrace design and patio designs and offer our clients a complete service from concept to completion. Our designs cater for those seeking something a little special - something to titillate and tease the imagination transporting you to a world where stress plays no part. Exotic plants which you may have considered as too tender to even contemplate for our cool UK climate, will not only grow, but positively flourish and surprisingly with very low maintenance. Our ultimate aim is to work closely with all our clients to interpret their wishes according to their budget, turning dreams into reality. All designs are created in 3D Virtual Reality and design costs are refunded at the end of the project, should you decide to proceed with our proposals. If you are a looking for a garden designer, roof garden designer or landscaper in London and the home counties please get in touch for an informal chat.
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