It is many people’s dream to own a large garden. These gardens can indeed enhance a property and provide a very pleasant environment to while away the hours outdoors, either leisurely lounging on a sun-terrace or slumbering in a shady retreat. Alternatively you may prefer actively gardening your extensive plot, getting your hands dirty keeping everything looking lovely. Whatever sounds most appealing, the important thing with large gardens is not to let the dream turn into a nightmare
The right planning at an early stage is essential to avoid making costly mistakes. Large gardens invariably mean larger quantities, whether stone for the terrace, gravel for the paths, plants for the borders, or indeed time for maintenance. The production of an overall plan of the garden can seem like an initial stage (and cost) that can be side-stepped, but ultimately this plan will pay for itself many times over.
It allows for all areas to be designed as a unified composition. Low maintenance ideas can be incorporated as required. Designs can then be accurately costed and if the overall total is too much for current finances, then work can always be phased over the short to longer term.
Creating Contrasting Areas
When designing larger gardens another consideration is contrasting scales of different areas. Whilst it may be tempting to present the entire plot to the viewer in one go, it is often much better to shield areas from the eye and to create enticing glimpses through to encourage exploration. Areas nearer to the house should take cues from the architecture, and often proportions found in the façade can be repeated in the geometry of the garden. Care should be taken to align elements logically with views from windows & doors.
Vistas can be created that tie one area to another and create a backbone running through the design.
Areas not immediately visible from the house can be given over to more seasonal activities, be it a pool garden for the summer, or a winter garden for walking through on cold & frosty mornings.
Don’t be afraid of the centre!
Avoid pushing all planting and structures towards the edges of your plot. Many people think that this makes the space feel larger, but it can often just lead the eye straight towards the boundaries. It is much more desirable to place structures centrally or use hedging and planting borders to divide the space in a softer way and provide interesting elements for the eye to rest on.
Softening the edges and enhancing views
As you move away from the house, geometry and layout can become looser and more informal. Although elements can be more “natural”, when laying out meandering curves it is often better to still base these on a series of arcs with defined centre points that then flow from one to another. By planting native species, edges of the garden can blur with the borrowed landscape beyond. The eye can be encouraged to take in a breath-taking sweeping view, or be cleverly directed to an interesting focal point, drawing attention away from less aesthetic elements that may also be lurking beyond your boundaries.
Large gardens have the opportunity to take you on a journey and provide contrasting experiences along the way. They can tell stories and provide a wealth of experiences, be it during a pleasant stroll on summer’s evening, or over the changing seasons through the course of the year.
David is the newest member of Nicholsons Garden Design Team. His design style is based on strong geometry with an attention to finer detail and takes inspiration from design as diverse as traditional English Arts & Crafts to post-war Californian Modernism.