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Garden Design: The Best Long Term Investment You Can Make In Yourself

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Garden Design: The Best Long Term Investment You Can Make In Yourself

Garden design is a surprisingly modest investment that offers huge returns in terms of benefits to your health, well-being and lifestyle.

It’s widely known that spending time outdoors and gardening, in particular, encourages a number of positive well-being benefits. But, did you know that starting with a well-designed garden can significantly increase these benefits and encourage a range of healthy lifestyle factors, including some that we bet might surprise you? 

Outdoor canvases, waiting to be sculpted to your every desire, gardens are incredibly special places. Special places for spending quality time with friends and family but also for self-growth and mindfulness. There are hundreds of unknown possibilities just waiting to be brought to life by the expert eye of a professional garden designer. So, let’s uncover a few of them now.  

Dreamy Garden Care 

Does your garden require a significant amount of maintenance? Well, a well-thought-out garden design can turn garden maintenance chores into horticultural heaven, making tasks so much easier to undertake that instead of feeling like a battle, they’ll take on an almost zen-like quality. Carefully crafted and designed gardens can also significantly reduce the amount of maintenance required in the garden. 

Our team can handpick a planting scheme that requires less pruning and includes slow-growing specimens, which whilst grand on arrival, will require only limited care. And our garden designs even come with horticultural aftercare notes to get you going!

Perhaps it’s difficult or uncomfortable for you to get down to ground-level beds and borders to weed, plant or sow? Maybe you’re looking to create a wheelchair friendly garden and improve the accessibility of your outdoor spaces? Think how a garden that’s designed to raise the working areas up to knee, or even hip height would mean no more bending down or trying to get on your knees (and raised or sunken gardens look rather smooth & sophisticated too, let’s not forget!). Borders can be filled up behind retaining stone walls or paths and seating areas sunk, beds can be raised up within natural oak sleepers or reclaimed brick and stone to bring the garden up to a more manageable level. This also has the added benefit of creating more sheltered areas for less hardy plants (and people) to enjoy.

Lush and luxuriant lawns look fabulously inviting, but they are often mistaken for a low-maintenance option. Keeping a lawn looking good takes a lot of work; there’s not just mowing and edging, but weeding, scarifying, aerating, over-seeding and patching all soak up your time. A garden designer can present you with less time-consuming alternatives. Got a yen for Eastern influence? How about incorporating a Japanese-inspired gravel garden? Throughout the seasons you can find great peace in the meditative serenity of gracefully raking fine gravel, in whorling patterns reminiscent of the ripples of a pool, around feature rocks and stones. The hard landscape of this scene can be softened by enveloping the garden with layers of texturally rich, fantastic foliage plants like an abundance ferns, and grasses, interspersed with large-leaved ornamental plants. Feature specimen acers with their finely wrought, deeply vibrant leaves add height, screening and focal points, where needed.

If you prefer to keep a wide expanse of green to soothe the eye and ground the soul, then our garden designers can add drifts of bulbs to add interest within the lawn or suggest alternatives to the usual grass turf.

For a relatively low-maintenance, but beautifully fragrant option, we’d suggest planting chamomile and thyme pathways for sunny spots. Choosing low-growing varieties of chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), makes for a relatively easy-to-care-for that will release an irresistible scent when walked over. For shadier, damper gardens, you might be constantly waging war against moss in the lawn, but perhaps it’s time to surrender and change your perspective on these resilient, fur-like little plants. Moss gardens can look seriously gorgeous; like you’ve swathed the garden in verdant velvet. Not to mention, they’re quite the talking point. It’s a truly elegant solution.

Next, it’s time to tackle that ever-demanding mountain of green waste. Why not install a clever composting facility that blends seamlessly within your garden’s natural environment? Creating a space for you to dispose of trimmings and cuttings, timber-framed compost bins enable you to complete your garden chores with ease, whilst also producing nutrient-rich compost to feed the garden, helping it look its best and saving on trips to the garden centre. Brilliantly designed and carefully constructed bins can be quite lovely to look at in themselves, but it only takes a secret screen of hedging or shrubs to shield the eye from them altogether. 

Healthy Minds 

Mental health is a much-talked about issue these days (and rightly so) with around 30% of the British population dealing with a mental health condition of some kind. Now more than ever, we should be taking time out for ourselves to encourage a clear and healthy mind. Here’s how garden design can play a vital role.

It’s been reported that being in a garden can both boost mental health, but can also promote self-confidence and motivation. Being surrounded by plants specifically chosen for their ability to enhance feelings of wellness, and meticulously placed within a thoughtfully well-designed garden has been shown to have an even greater effect on mood than simply standing in a green, though not particularly orderly, space. A study by Seiko Goto et al (2013) concluded that exposure to a well-organised garden could significantly lower the heart rate and sympathetic function in individuals. It is also long-known that colour and scent can affect our mood, so it stands to reason that plants (for whom colour and scent are key characteristics, of course) and the ways in which they are put together can have a significant positive impact on our mental health. 

If you’ve ever visited a beautifully designed garden or gardens, can you remember how it felt to be in it? How would it feel to be standing in your own beautifully designed garden? What would it look like? How would it smell? How does it compare to standing in an un- or disorganised garden? Even just imagining it you can feel a difference in your sense of calmness.

Get Moving, Get Active! 

Considerably improving our mental health, gardening has also been found to help greatly with physical health. Studies have found that gardening can significantly reduce your chances of suffering from a heart attack whilst also helping to extend lives by up to 30%! And you’re much more likely to want to get gardening if you’re starting with an enticing space, created fresh, just for you. 

Remember the sunken and raised garden designs we introduced above? They can come into play here too.

Sinking a seating area and covering it with a canopy or tiled or even glass-topped roof makes it a useable, weather-protected place to relax all year. Imagine wrapping yourself in a faux fur or chunky woollen throw, chucking piles of cushions into an undercover seating area and watching the stars at night, mitts wrapped around mugs of hot chocolate. Now, move the seating to the edges and uncover a petanque court or wheel in a table tennis set and you’ve got a place to play games whether it’s May Day or Christmas Day. Add a fire bowl for extra natural cosiness and you’ve created the ultimate snug garden retreat.

How about games on a grander scale? We’ve seen before that garden design and landscaping can allow you to practice your sporting prowess at home. From putting greens to rowing lakes, from yoga decks to bouldering walls and from weights rooms to dance studios, there’s always a clever way that favourite physical activities can be included in a garden design whether you have expansive grounds or a terraced townhouse.

Beautiful Workspaces Create Beautiful Work

Garden rooms have soared in popularity as people have transitioned more into work-from-home schedules and we love them, but what if you could something a little more interesting with your garden room than the general flat-pack, boxy-looking building? Take the outdoor structure at Quinton Rectory Garden, for example. This beautiful building with its cathedral-esque timbers and glass walls, allow the owners to be fully immersed in the garden, in all weathers and seasons, whilst working, creating, socialising or relaxing.

It’s a dream-like place that seems to float amongst the flowers and rills, so much so that it’s hard to imagine how one could not create beautiful work, no matter what your mind was cast to, amongst the alliums and roses or even snow-dusted beds.

Diminish your Carbon Footprint 

Busy, demanding lives can make it a challenge to keep a tab on your carbon footprint, so integrating glorious garden features, such as a natural pond, helps wildlife and biodiversity to flourish just outside your doorstep. Performing as sizeable carbon storage units, ponds also shield small and semi-aquatic creatures from harsh environments. 

Whilst alternatives to standard lawns make for interesting and sometimes easier-to-maintain options, cultivated grass lawns can act as a secret weapon against climate change with the average lawn capturing more carbon than an untouched environment (as cited by Dr. Carly Ziter of Princeton University). Add swathes of wildflower turf in drifts within and around the cultivated lawn and you also have a much more biodiverse and pollinator-friendly garden.

Not only does a garden designed with the environment in mind, leave you with the feel-good factor of having given Mother Nature a helping hand (rather than making her job exponentially harder), but it also offers measurable, tangible benefits to you, physically.

A design which introduces a broad variety of plants, shrubs and particularly trees, helps clean up the air around your immediate environment. They’ll take in carbon dioxide and convert via photosynthesis into oxygen, which is then released back into the air around them. Health levels of oxygen in the air that you breathe displaces free radicals, destroys anaerobic organisms and enhances the body’s absorption of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and other important nutrients. Oxygen also helps to enhance cognition and memory.

Plants like moss, water mint (Mentha aquatica), waterlilies (Nymphaea) and water irises like Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus) and Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) also take up water from the environment and ‘clean’ it of heavy metals and chemicals, even salmonella and E.coli, meaning that they leave water sources safer for you and for the environment.

As landscape designers, we often think about the relationship between people and nature, identifying ways to capture and promote well-being, creating features that feed the soul and lift the spirit; crafting and sculpting the land, naturalistically, to better enhance their emotional and physical well-being.

A view, an activity, a space to socialise, a space to meditate, perfume, birdsong, fresh apples from an orchard and vegetables from a kitchen garden, places to play games whatever the weather –  there are a number of elements that combine to promote wellbeing. Through designing with these in mind, we seek to enhance the health of gardens, but just as importantly, the garden’s owners and users – you.

Let’s turn your garden visions into a reality. Get in touch to discover more about our glorious garden designs. It may just be the best investment you make. 

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