Garden Design for Wildlife

We all know someone that has foxes, badgers, rabbits or even deer getting into their gardens. Or garden owners that make an effort to get birds nesting, newts and frogs swimming or even just a few nesting solitary bees. Covering some 4% of the 93,000 square miles of this island we’re lucky that our gardens are truly the biggest wildlife park we have in the UK. What’s more it’s not just our individual gardens that are important but the sum of gardens that is vital to biodiversity and garden designers have an important role to play in getting wildlife into gardens.

Individual gardens are usually quite small and it is the sum and, especially, the variety, of plants and features within an area’s gardens that is valuable. Other features such as canal, railway embankments, street trees, parks and other communal green space also contribute to the variety of habitats and resources but it’s our gardens that are important. The message is that whilst you might not have a pond for wildlife, your neighbour might and if you can include trees for birds and flowers for food in your garden design it will work with the gardens nearby that provide shelter for other wildlife.

One of the big stories in recent years has been the demise in honey bees due to many different factors, not least the use of pesticides in the countryside. Interestingly honeybees were thriving in our cities and it’s the solitary bees that are really on the decline. The huge increase in hives has though not come with a huge increase in food sources so even though you don’t have a hive think about planting design with lots of bee friendly plants. Rothamsted Research studied an important group of pollinators, the bumblebees, in gardens and farmland and found that gardens support around 5 times as many nests as farmland, with about 36 nests per hectare, regardless of garden size. This was put down to two important features of gardens: presence of potential nesting sites and food resources. Gardens offer a variety of nesting site opportunities, such as compost heaps and bins, bird boxes and flower-beds and a long and continuous season of flowering plants. The abundance of flowers in gardens provides much more nectar and pollen, from early spring to late autumn, than is usually found in the countryside. The conclusion was that gardens are one of the most important refuge for pollinators in Britain!

We can all do our bit and for those low maintenance gardeners out there you’ll be pleased to hear that it doesn’t matter too much about the state of your garden as a few piles of leaves, debris and even a few bricks can be great nesting sites for our bees and insects. But if you want to be more proactive and help these creatures then start building some bee hotels into your garden design using all the materials you might find around your garden but normally throw away. A few upturned flower pots stuffed with dead leaves is as simple as it can get or you can create some wildlife towers. You can also design some quite snazzy wildlife homes to fit into the style of the house that the garden belongs too. How about a modernist bee hotel for that modernist house, or a Victorian terrace bird box for the terraced garden? Whatever you do think about wildlife when you start a garden design and everyone will win.

Benefits of Garden Designs

When you think that your home needs to have a makeover, you really should not dive right away to tearing every part of your house down and renovating it. This is costly. Sometimes, all it takes to give your house a refreshing look is to introduce a great garden design right on your front lawn.

Garden design surely takes a good amount of time but the benefits it offers are various. There are a lot of benefits that a home owner can get from garden design, benefits include:

One reason for designing a property is to improve the quality of life, not only to the home owner, but also to the guests who would generally observe and appreciate the garden design. Quality of life, can be measured personally, it could be by the increased intimacy or privacy or by the peace and tranquility that a garden could give. Landscape gardening is also an environmentally responsible way to protect the future and provide a beautiful environment for future generations to come. It gives out a sense of responsibility to protect the environment and beautification is thereby passed down to future generations, to enjoy and to embrace the beauty and grace of nature.

Gardening is a fantastic hobby and good exercise. Gardening takes a lot of time and patience because a person can’t expect the flowers to bloom as soon as he sowed the plant. However, patience, as they say is a virtue. It would be very rewarding for the gardener if he will see the product of his hard work, like flowers blooming or even a new leaf. There’s something about nature and helping things grow that just brings out the best in some people. Gardening is also a good way of exercising regularly. A garden design would need constant care, to maintain its beauty. An hour of work a week such as weed pulling, watering and digging will energize and strengthen one’s body at the same time. It actually equates to an hour of aerobic workout.

Garden design can also be a family activity, this kind of activity can be time consuming, but it is often one that the entire family can get into and enjoy. Each member of the family can pick up a task and devote time together in doing it. It would also add a sense of responsibility to each member, because that would create a personal bond with the garden in regards with tending to the plants and maintaining it. In no time, a home owner might be shocked at how much this kind of hobby can be good for family bonding.

Garden design can also increase the value of a property. When a great plan is created and executed to garden design, it can really add curb appeal. If the home owners desire is to sell the property in the future, they can actually get a good price out of it owing it up to a well maintained garden. The amount of value increase will vary, but if the landscape design is lush green and creative enough, property value will be much higher than other properties in the market.

It is possible to turn an ordinary landscape into a retreat for rest and relaxation for every family member, as a great stress reliever. A beautiful landscape exudes a sense of peace and harmony, because one is visually surrounded by something beautiful and also it attracts species like butterflies, birds and other delightful creatures. A home owner will experience immense joy by seeing a garden that can also be home to some of nature’s most delightful creatures, adding up to the whole vibe that a garden creates.

Landscape gardening can be very costly. Hiring a landscape designer can save money down the road, as they will not make the mistakes that could be avoided. Most trained landscape designers are also arborist or more commonly known as tree surgeons. They incorporate horticultural knowledge to create a garden that will thrive for years to come in context of the landscape ecosystem, since would focus on the overall health and safety of an individual plant or tree. It is a given factor in garden design since it will add up years to the garden itself and achieve the overall balance and harmony at home as well as in the ecosystem.

Garden Design: The Natural Palette

Well-designed gardens and landscapes, no matter how varied in style and period, all have certain basic design principles at their core. To create a masterful garden, there must be attention to: unity, scale, space division, light and shade, texture, and tone and color.

Garden designers must also consider maturation of plants and seasonal changes. Finally, there is time-a design principle not required by other fine and decorative arts.

Unity

Perhaps, it is a reflection of our contemporary era that unity is the most lacking in today’s garden. We live piecemeal, hurried lives and tend to patch together lives and gardens as we go along. But the goal of unity is to give a totality, or strength of purpose to the design. Tone and color or texture can be used as unifying elements, but they are not enough to create a garden whole.

Modern gardens tend to be inward looking as very few of us have country estates where we see the horizon over the hill. But even so, we can design our gardens to be progressive or static. The first leads the eye down an axis, while a static garden is built on a central open space where the eye is brought to rest.

Scale

In either design it is important to think about scale. Even an outdoor room must compete with the vastness of the sky. There is a need for ample proportion, and a nodding acquaintance with the laws of perspective. There must be a definition of the space, and it must relate to the human scale. If you have assets of gigantic proportion, like enormous trees, it is best to insert a transition or buffer of medium scale that then relates further to people in the landscape.

As for the scale of all the parts of your design, you have two choices. Either all the parts should fit together as one whole, or one (only one) should dominate. That is how you create a focal point. Consider also how your eye reacts. A view is shortened as you look uphill and lengthened as you look down. You can enlarge and blur boundaries by placing them in shade.

Division of Space

You must also divide your space to make it interesting. You create pattern by how you distribute, and the proportion of, open spaces and solid mass. A prime example is a colonnade of trees leading the eye forward. You must decide how many trees, of what size girth (when they mature) and how far apart to plant them.

In dividing your space, you can either use a firm, architectural style or a loose more organic style.

Light & Shade

Light and shade also are important additions to your palette with the potential to elicit emotional response. Think of the appeal of sunlight falling on an open spot in a glade. The sunlight is a wonderful surprise, and much more exciting when viewed from a shady area.

Keep in mind that texture can only be shown with light. For example, site something highly carved or intricately detailed where it will be illuminated. On the other hand, a structural element can be strengthened if it is sited to appear in silhouette, with little detail and only the shape apparent.

Texture

Texture itself becomes more and more important as pattern decreases. The use of texture is strongest in Japanese garden design. The classic garden, with a highly formal pattern, relies on simplicity of surfaces.

The more modern garden, particularly those of smaller scale, can successfully use textures to build pattern. This is especially appropriate where elements are seen at close range and texture can be fully appreciated.

Tone & Color

Finally, the most appreciated and least understood garden design element, is that of tone and color. We all think we can use tone and color successfully, but it is no surprise that most great garden designers were also artists. To fully utilize color, you need to understand the principles of color harmony. That said, we’ll all continue with our illusions, and have a wonderful time creating our gardens.

Basis For Expression

If all of these design principles are well employed, they create a wonderful basis for truly original expression. The basics of garden design are like the foundation for a house. Once in place, there is limitless opportunity for personal expression.

Small Garden Design Ideas For Any Setting

A well crafted small garden design could be desirable to people for a number of reasons. First, the outdoor space suitable for being turned into a garden could be rather small. Alternatively there could be plenty of outdoor space, but the person may not want to make a large garden. Also if the garden space is set in an urban setting there may only be a balcony or small patio available for a garden installation.

Those are all good reasons to desire a small garden space, but designing one for those applications can be tricky. It takes forethought and careful planning to make a garden of this type really work.

Here are a few small garden design ideas that anyone can use to get the most out of any space.

First, a person needs to consider what the purpose of the garden is: Decorative, functional, or a hybrid.

A decorative garden is one that focuses on plants that will have the largest visual impact per square foot without any consideration for edible, or in some other way functional plant. A functional garden on the other hand focuses on maximizing the yield per square foot of plants that can be eaten or used in some other productive manner (i.e. Aloe Vera for burns). Finally, a hybrid garden focuses on a cross between these two different concepts. It tries to produce a high yield of useful plants, while at the same time creating visual interest within the garden space.

The most common garden type that people choose in this regard is a hybrid approach. For the purposes of this article, it is this style that will be the focus of the following small garden design ideas.

The first concept that any person designing a small garden needs to understand is that raised beds always make for a more vigorous crop. Raised beds can be constructed in virtually any shape imaginable so they are the perfect container for any small garden. For example an urban gardener who only has a condo balcony to work with could build raised bed planters in the corners of the balcony and a long narrow one straight down the front parallel to the railing. This design creates a lot of growing space without taking away much of floor space on the balcony.

Another very useful idea to keep in mind when building a small garden is that it can be constructed horizontally as well as vertically. For example a wall or fence can easily be turned into a living wall by adding hanging planters or vining plants like grapes, hardy kiwi, or honeysuckle to it.

Whatever style of garden is being constructed one thing that is important to keep in mind is that in order to create a strong visual appeal, it is better to stagger plants of different heights and colors around one another. This creates texture and dimension to a garden space that can make it seem larger than it really is.

Building a garden is a tremendous amount of fun. By taking the small garden design ideas listed above and making them their own, a person will be able to build a visually interesting and useful garden that will impress all of their friends and family.