Designing a Garden – Garden Aspect and Use of Garden Hedges
Garden Landscapes – The Importance of the Garden Aspect
Garden aspect or garden landscapes have a marked effect on growing conditions, and must be taken into account when planning. They will also need to be considered when designing a garden and choosing a site for a greenhouse or a sitting-out area.
Ideally a patio should be an extension of the house — a place for outdoor living, with a door or doors opening on to it from the main living-room. Should it face south, the area will receive sun for most of the day. If the aspect is easterly, there will be little afternoon and no evening sun, while a westerly aspect means none till well on in the day. A northerly site will receive low sun only around mid-summer, in early morning or late evening.
When the garden aspect is unfavourable, it may still be useful to have a small paved area linked directly with the house, but the main leisure area should be sited elsewhere — though for convenience it should always be as near to the house as possible. Privacy may not be so easily secured as with an area adjoining the house, but suitable screening and planting can overcome the problem. A south-facing terrace or patio can become very hot in summer, but before you start planting shade frees, recall that there are many more weeks when the full warmth of the sun is welcome. Large sun umbrellas are a better solution.
Garden aspect also affects the positioning of flower beds, borders, and food plots. In shady areas suitable plants will have to be chosen, and if a colourful summer border is required, an open, sunny site must be found.
Where one side of the garden is much shaded, perhaps by a boundary wall or fence, the space would be better occupied by a path, with a narrow border along the boundary for, and spring bulbs at their feet.
Some plants are tolerant of shade — a few even prefer it.
The use of ‘island’ beds cut into the lawn, or circumscribed by a path, takes plants away from the shade of fences, and makes it easier for the gardener to look after them.
A shady spot on the lawn is a blissful place in summer, and few will regret planting a tree to provide it. In a, the tree should be of limited spread and height or it will become too dominant. It should also be chosen not only for its shade value, but for the beauty of its form, foliage, or blossom.
Modern Front Garden Designs
The design of a modern front garden is nearly always governed by the need for access to the front door and garage. Larger properties approached by a drive require car turning space. In all cases ample room should be allowed to reach the front door without having to pick your way along an uneven or overgrown path. There should also be room to manoeuvre a car, and to work on it if necessary.
However strong the attraction of an open-plan front garden, a boundary fence or wall may be thought necessary or desirable. In rural areas, an old-fashioned white picket fence can look charming. In urban districts a wall or close-boarded fence may be the best choice.
Front garden designs should be kept simple — an unfussy lawn (paving may be preferable if the garden is tiny), a border with a sweeping curve or cleanly cut flower beds, not too small, and an ornamental tree or two planted near the road, but not hiding the house. A front garden should offer a welcome, and what better finishing touch than flower-filled tubs by the door, a hanging flower basket, or a climber-clad porch?
Garden Hedges or Fences
Garden hedges or boundary fences and walls will need careful thought. Often there are restrictions in the deeds of the property concerning boundary hedges, and usually you are responsible for only part of your boundary, so a chat with a neighbour may be necessary (and is a courtesy anyway) before uprooting existing hedges.
New gardeners often feel it their duty to enclose their plots with fences or garden hedges. They can, however, be an unnecessary undertaking. Although we all enjoy a measure of privacy, this can usually be satisfied by screening that part of the garden near the house, rather than the whole length of it. Omitting a fence or hedge can make a dramatic difference to the apparent size of a garden. It may be worth discussing with your neighbour the possibility of grubbing out a straggling dividing hedge to plant a variety of attractive shrubs along the common Boundary. If these are arranged in groups instead of a row, the result will be a vista of each other’s garden you can both enjoy.
Few people need privacy in their front gardens, which, in any case, are more in the nature of show places to welcome visitors and attract the admiration of passers-by. A series of open-plan gardens frequently presents a far more pleasant prospect than a collection of hedged-in plots — a fact that has not escaped the designers of modern housing estates.
Fences and hedges are sometimes essential to keep animals either in or out of the garden. Fencing is increasingly expensive, and a living screen is not only cheaper but usually more attractive, though as a defence against predators it may have to be reinforced with wire-netting in the early stages.
In exposed areas, garden hedges offer more than privacy — they provide an essential windbreak. Solid walls or fences can make matters worse by creating turbulence, and the aim should be to filter the wind, using a screen of trees or shrubs, a hedge, or Italian walling.