Leading on from our last post here are some further things to consider –
The materials of which a property is constructed can also have an effect on garden planning, especially in relation to patios, walls and plant colours. Stone walls and concrete paving have to be matched carefully for style and colour — there are some very good imitation stone slabs, and some very basic concrete ones which are sometimes better used in connection with modern architecture, especially when the concrete is coloured with a pigment. Some colours work quite well with twentieth-century buildings, some colours are frankly crude and should not be used in any location. Brick paths and patios will fit in well with most old buildings, gravel and cobbles can be effective with certain types of stone and brick.
On the subject of plant colours, bear in mind that red flowers do not usually look good against or near red walls, white ones are lost near white walls, and so on. Choose the colours for contrast or harmony.
A final consideration while on the subject of walls is their subsequent maintenance if you want to grow climbers up them. If a wall is painted or rendered, self-clinging climbers should be avoided as you will have to cut them down to the ground and remove the clinging bits every time you want to get at the wall for maintenance, which is a pity, and also causes a lot of extra work. It is best to consider a moderate-growing plant which will attach to some form of easy-to-remove trellis, or forget wall-plants in this situation.
In Britain much of the time spent looking at the garden will be done through one window or another, so these should be marked on the scale plan to remind you when you are trying out some ideas on paper of just how the design is going to be seen, from which angles, and when.
Some people like to look on their gardens as a continuation of their living-rooms – their co-ordinated fabrics being equally co-ordinated with the colour that is beyond the window. Before you install a bed of ‘Blue Moon’ roses which do not quite tone with your brick-red carpet, give some thought to whether this aspect bothers you.
Most gardens have some form of delineation between them and other properties – quite often house deeds specify that there should be one, though many place restrictions on type, and especially height.
Boundaries are generally formed by fences, walls or hedges, though occasionally the hedge concept goes a step further by being a mixed screen of shrubs, conifers and small trees. When you take over a garden there is usually some form of boundary demarcation already. Because the materials of which these are made are pretty pricey, unless the wall, fence or hedge is in poor condition, totally wrong, or an offence to you, it is as well to make the best of what you’ve got, rather than tear it down and start again. Perhaps the most fortunate person is the one who has only a post and wire, or a post and chain link fence, often provided by builders to fulfil the legalities of the situation, because then you can do your own thing in front of it if you wish, without the existing structure being too much in the way.
However, the type of boundary you have will affect the planning of the garden in front of it. Boarded fences do not look particularly pretty, so think about ways of concealing them. Some walls also are best covered up; however, some stone and well designed brick walls have a beauty of their own which should perhaps be shown off.