Landscape gardener and designer, Olive Ryan, gives a masterclass on how to give your garden the ultimate makeover

Using three paver sizes together in an irregular pattern is an attractive option for a bigger space

Where do you begin? It is that time of the year again when the garden is waking up. 

As the evenings start to lengthen we begin to dream of long summer evenings spent barbequing on the patio (hopefully) surrounded by lush vegetation, fabulous flowers and designer deckchairs.

Now is the time to take action on smartening up your exterior. 

These Neptune Pesaro Chairs are lovingly crafted from All-Weather Willow to create a beautifully natural look.
These Neptune Pesaro Chairs are lovingly crafted from All-Weather Willow to create a beautifully natural look.

Are you desperately looking out of the window wondering if this year is going to be any different, is this the year you develop those green fingers? Well, well read on my friends and it just might be,

Designing the Garden

There are lots of different elements that make up the design of a garden, patios, paths, lighting, garden furnishings, garden features, planting design, colour and much more. 

Casey Furniture are offering this Nantes 6 Seat Set on sale – it was €2149 and is now reduced to €1599 with free parasol.
Casey Furniture are offering this Nantes 6 Seat Set on sale – it was €2149 and is now reduced to €1599 with free parasol.

Firstly, we need to figure out how to get started. 

It can be a daunting task so we need to do it in phases. 

It is a SAD process, that is Survey, Analysis and Design in that order.

Survey

Take a look out of the window that you most often stand or sit at each day, are you pleased with what you see or some of what you see? 

Walk out into the garden and take some photos from different angles. 

There will usually be elements of what currently exists that you want to keep for its maturity, colour, sentiment or screening. 

Tobermore Tegula Heather and Circle heather with step risers also in heather.
Tobermore Tegula Heather and Circle heather with step risers also in heather.

There will also be elements that are cluttering the garden, polluting it visually, that you need to be ruthless about. 

Start making decisions to improve the scene outside that window. 

It is a useful exercise to sketch out the house and garden at this stage, highlighting elements to be retained and removed.

Analysis

Analysis of the space that you have and what you want can include the more mundane elements like coal bunkers and clothes lines, garden sheds and parking space and the more elaborate items like pergolas, seating, water features and interesting plant combinations.

At this stage prioritising is vital to success. 

Ever wish you didn’t have to trim the edges of your lawn? Kwik Kerb offers continuous concrete edging between your lawn and shrub beds which comes in various styles, colours and profiles (including mower strips).
Ever wish you didn’t have to trim the edges of your lawn? Kwik Kerb offers continuous concrete edging between your lawn and shrub beds which comes in various styles, colours and profiles (including mower strips).

Space can be at a premium and fitting all of the required elements into a limited amount area can take some ingenuity. 

In order for the garden to be functional as well as attractive, all aspects need to be considered at an early stage for your space

Design

Deciding on the design will depend on the style you wish to adopt, the elements that you want to include and plant preferences. 

Formal or informal styles will be based on your individual preference and style of the house. 

Designing a garden to suit you and your family’s needs will ensure the success of your outdoor space for future years.

Landscape gardener and designer, Olive Ryan, gives a masterclass on how to give your garden the ultimate makeover

The redesign of the garden can be a daunting task, so consulting with a professional garden designer or landscape architect can be a useful exercise. 

As the owner of the garden, the more thought and consideration you give to the project, the better the design ultimately. 

You have to start somewhere, so off with you to take those pics and begin your redesign process. 

A garden should come withsome elements — a seating area, gravel, seasonal colour, foliage effect, sculpture, south facing, pots, screening. 

Have a think about what you would really like to see in your own garden?

Patio Possibilities

The possibilities are endless! With more products and choices available than ever its important to consider what is best for your space.

The patio is one of the most used areas of the garden and locating it in the sunniest position possible is of paramount importance. 

A secondary consideration is wind, if you have the choice of a sheltered spot with sun then it makes all the difference. 

A good exercise is to observe where the sun is when you get home from work about 5 or 6. 

Landscaped Stone Patio Back Yard with Garden and Flower Beds
Landscaped Stone Patio Back Yard with Garden and Flower Beds

Realistically this is the time that we are going to get the opportunity to bask during the week. 

Accessibility to the house is also a consideration, it is a lot more convenient when the patio is directly linked to the house. 

The size and shape of the patio are important. 

It is likely that a set of garden furniture will be a permanent feature in summer and perhaps also a barbeque — consider this at an early stage.

Materials

Which materials to use is an important decision and the first reference point has to be the existing materials used on the house, fencing, walls and the location — rural or suburban? 

Cues can be taken from existing flooring in the house especially if it is linking directly to the patio.

There is a vast range to choose from, natural stone will be the most expensive, limestone, sandstone, granite and basalt all providing a range of colours and textures to suit. 

There are also concrete paving slabs produced to a high quality and in a variety of tones and colours. 

Create a patio that maximises floor space for furniture and softens a hard run of wall with lush greenery.
Create a patio that maximises floor space for furniture and softens a hard run of wall with lush greenery.

The interesting thing about concrete products is that they can be moulded to give the effect of different surfaces like timber. 

You should also consider safety when choosing a material as some surfaces can become very slippery in wet weather, avoid these if possible.

Brick can be an attractive option with many different patterns to choose from when laying the patio. 

Then of course there is also decking- it proved very popular during the Celtic Tiger years, however, may have fallen out of favour in more recent times as the realisation that timber in our climate is not the most durable or practical option. 

It can however be a viable option in certain locations, particularly where there are large changes of level.

How clever are these concrete slabs? No maintenance, non-slip and practically eternal. Timber sleeper effect patio made from concrete, www.stonemarket.co.uk
How clever are these concrete slabs? No maintenance, non-slip and practically eternal. Timber sleeper effect patio made from concrete, www.stonemarket.co.uk

Once the type of material has been decided then choose your paver size. 

Using three paver sizes together in an irregular pattern is an attractive option for a bigger space, while cobbles can be effective in a more intimate space. 

Usually paving suppliers will have a designer available to advise on patterns and sketch out the space in question with different options. 

Try tobermore - who will also offer a landscaping service as a benefit.

Resin bound gravel provides another option for patio areas which looks good and is maintenance free. 

It can be applied over existing patio surfaces and complies with SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage) requirements. resin bound patio.

www.resinbondedireland.com 

Neptune’s range of decorative plant pots, thrown from terracotta by an artisan maker, will adorn where ever they are placed. Basil Large Pot Cream €20 (£14), Bay Pot Small, Bright Pink €9 (£13), Sage Large Pot Charcoal, €20 (£14), Thyme Small Pot Stone, €9 (£13). www.neptune.com
Neptune’s range of decorative plant pots, thrown from terracotta by an artisan maker, will adorn where ever they are placed. Basil Large Pot Cream €20 (£14), Bay Pot Small, Bright Pink €9 (£13), Sage Large Pot Charcoal, €20 (£14), Thyme Small Pot Stone, €9 (£13). www.neptune.com

The hard landscaping element of the garden is an important one to consider, as once it is in place it will not be easy to change. 

Choosing the best location and then the most appropriate materials to suit the style is worth taking some time to consider. 

As well as being a fixed element it will also be an expensive element of the overall design of the garden but remember it is only expensive once. 

Basic concrete products will start at €12-15 per m2 and natural stone will be anything up to €35-€40 per m2 for materials only. 

It is always best to get a professional to install the patio as it can be tricky to get drainage and levels correct.

An important point to remember is to keep the palette simple, less is more. 

Be consistent throughout the design of the house and garden with materials and colour schemes as the space will flow better and feel more united and ultimately more restful, which is the end goal for any garden.


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