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Why Style matters in the garden

I wrote in a recent blog post about spaces to sit and relax in your garden and July is the ideal time to take a good look round and decide if the layout and planting still suit your likes and lifestyle.  If you are considering making changes, whether a bit of replanting, replacing an ageing pergola or a more major redesign then the most crucial thing you need is Style.  I do not mean that your garden must follow fashion and be stylish or trendy but simply that you should decide right up front what look and feel you want.  Will your garden be cottagey, traditional, contemporary, naturalistic or perhaps reflecting a different location: seaside, Mediterranean or tropical?  It might seem a bit over the top to define a style for an average sized, possibly urban garden, but believe me, it will make every single decision that you subsequently have to make infinitely easier.  I recently taught a course called “Design Your Own Garden” for complete beginners and the overwhelming view was that deciding on a garden style unlocked the whole process.

Cottage gardenSo why does Style matter in the garden?  Well without it your decision making is paralysed.  What shape will the patio be? Will the path be straight or winding? What material will we use – paving, gravel, reclaimed bricks or chipped bark?  What colour foliage and flowers? Do I want evergreen shrubs or a wildflower meadow?  But if you know you want a Contemporary garden for example then the answers flow: straight lines and rectangles predominate, materials are sleek and simple such as large grey paving slabs or black decking, colour palette is limited with lots of green, plenty of texture in the foliage and maybe highlights of bright orange.  If you want Cottagey then reclaimed brick paths will divide colourful herbaceous borders and a rustic timber trellis screens off the veg plot.

There are of course many other considerations in garden design such as size of the plot, shape, soil and orientation but there are guidelines and techniques to make the best of the physical space that you have.  The artistic part is down to you and understanding that the first, crucial step is to decide what you want the finished garden to look like is more than half that particular battle.

Happy Gardening from Alison

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