Draw on design skills to turn blank canvas plot into your dream garden
If you have moved house recently, then it's quite possible that you've inherited a blank canvas for a garden.
Many houses, new-builds in particular, have an extremely basic landscaped garden, normally comprising of a small patio and the remaining ground just grassed.
The thinking is to provide a neat and tidy outdoor space that is relatively low maintenance.
This is all very well for people who have little interest in gardens but if you're reading this, it probably means you would rather make something more of that canvas than just a one-colour wash.
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One advantage of this type of empty plot is that it really allows you to dream about what sort of garden you could have.
Often, however, the problem can be more to do with narrowing down all those ideas and deciding on what is most important and then how to achieve that.
The first thing to do is look at what you've got before you decide what to add or change. What is the size and shape of your plot?
With land now at such a premium, new gardens are often laid out smaller and shorter than those attached to older buildings.
You might assume if you left the garden as open as possible, with no room taken up by trees or plants, then that would make it seem bigger. But in fact, this just isn't the case.
By leaving the garden empty, you are effectively highlighting the boundaries which then visually advance towards you, making the space feel even smaller than it actually is.
A much smarter approach is to obscure as much of the boundary as possible with greenery.
This then recedes into the background and often links with trees in neighbouring gardens to give the sense of your garden continuing beyond its borders.
It also helps to incorporate shapes within the landscaping that emphasise the depth and lead your eye away from the house.
Something as simple as creating some bold sweeping curved borders to your lawn can produce a real sense of depth if done in the right way, especially when filled with beautiful planting.
If your garden has an existing patio then ask yourself, is it right for our needs?
Quite often, paving installed on housing developments isn't even big enough to comfortably accommodate a garden furniture set.
If you intend to spend lots of time sitting out in the garden eating and relaxing, then it is worth being generous with the space you have for that purpose so you don't feel claustrophobic.
Although it is normally practical to have the patio directly outside the back door, it can sometimes be far more beneficial to position it away from the house.
North facing gardens, for example, will have a shaded area around the rear of the house for a large part of the day, so a seating area located out the shadows would be favourable.
To have a sunny destination away from the house would also provide an opportunity to create an interesting journey along the way.