Tuesday, July 07, 2020

West London family home. Garden with wooden deck and small lawn and white shed on raised level. A three bedroom terraced Victorian house in Richmond, London, home of Kate Kozina co founder of Fine Stems business and her husband Gregory and two children.

GARDENS of any size can bring its own set of problems or opportunities. The trick is, if you wish to maximise your space for whatever reason, then a little planning before action will go a long way to achieving your aims.

Large Bear

The whole concept of having the right design and plants for different sized gardens brings to mind the old fairytale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and I might categorise our gardens into the different sections and suggest how to go about implementing and designing your available area.

Large gardens would tend to be from a third of an acre upwards and mostly be in the country and, while the large space initially is a welcome asset, quite often the prospect of ongoing maintenance becomes a chore and a bore unless dealt with in a sensible manner. The first thing to do is to secure the boundaries with hedges and perhaps some native trees, keeping in far enough so that maintenance can be carried out on both sides. Internally, the areas can be sub-divided into sections for a particular use, such as the front from the house to the road being mostly visual, while the secluded and private areas are to the side or rear. Use larger growing trees and shrubs to landscape throughout and space them well enough apart as, within a few years they will have all grown together satisfactorily and thereafter there will be less care needed including grass mowing.

Medium Bear

Gardens of a modest size occur in the country and in some urban areas and the same applies regarding boundary treatment as in large gardens but sometimes solid walls are built especially where it abounds adjoining properties.  Walls eliminate the need for hedges although some people do plant them anyway but I think there are better ways to treat these areas and one is to plant wall shrubs and climbers and front them with a planted bed using a mixture of large to medium growing trees and shrubs. It is a good idea to plant trees far enough away from adjoining properties so that your branches do not overhang into their space, and avoid climbers and wall shrubs that might climb over the wall and invade other people’s garden.

Little Bear

The gardens in housing estates are much smaller and likely to become even smaller as the planning authorities have completed a huge about turn in relation to housing densities. For as long as I can recall developers would try and squeeze as many houses into a plot of land as they could and planning would send the proposals back to ensure that numbers complied with the more extensive densities. Almost overnight, developers whose plans complied with regulations were sent back to the drawing board to increase the housing density. Be that as it may, we now have a situation where it will be difficult to create a small garden as there will be other factors competing for the limited space such as a garden shed, playhouse and a place for bins.

Bear with me

What is happening now is that small gardens are close to being as good or bad as apartments with little scope to have a garden. In all these cases it is not impossible but more tricky to create some  green oasis and it is more important than ever to get it right and, for this, do get some of the advice that is freely available before you begin the project.

As you can understand in all the situations above, it is important to develop whatever space you have in proportion to the sizes the plants will grow or can be confined to.


‘Deadheading’ is where you remove faded flowers from your summer bedding plants and herbaceous perennials in order to encourage more flowers and prolong the flowering season.

It is not an essential operation but if some leisure time could be spent doing this on a semi-regular basis, the rewards in extra flowers will be worth it.

When the foliage of garlic, shallots and onions starts to fade, gently ease the bulbs from the soil and allow them to dry on the surface for up to two weeks. After that, on a dry sunny day they can be tied up or otherwise stored inside for use as and when needed.

Continue to harvest any vegetables that are ready for eating or freezing and do not neglect this as otherwise non harvested vegetables will soon go to seed and stop producing.

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