Monday, 9 February 2009

Planning Your Garden 3 - Factors Affecting Style

One of the first things, that I do when I am called in to landscape a garden, is to ask my client what their preferences are when it comes to styles for their garden. Most people haven't given it much thought before I ask the question.

There are several factors which influence the style, even before our preferences enter the picture:

The architecture probably has the biggest effect on how your garden should look. A cottage garden might not be ideal surroundings for a modern or contemporary building, however a minimalist feel might be far more harmonious with that type of structure.

The second biggest influence would most likely be the climate of the area. While not impossible, a tropical fern garden in the desert would require a lot of work to keep it looking good.

Another big factor would be the conditions on site. Is the area small or large; is it steep or level; is the soil predominantly clay or just plain sand? What does the surrounding vegetation or neighbouring properties look like. All these are questions that need to be answered before our particular tastes are addressed.

With the above influences in mind, the next step is to consider the individual tastes that make us who we are. Here are just a few things to think about:

  • Are you happier in a neat and ordered space, or do you prefer a little bit of wildness around you?
  • Do you want to relax, or play in the space?
  • Who will use the garden mainly?
  • Have you got time to work in your garden or do you just want to admire it without the physical work involved?
  • Are you wanting to attract wildlife into your garden or is that not even a consideration?
  • Do you want to grow food, or are flowers essential?

If I were to ask all these questions when I first meet a client, the meeting would feel more like an interrogation. So I will often look at the interior of the house or building, the predominant colours and interior styles in order to get an idea of their tastes. Besides, a garden should be a reflection to an extent of the people who use the space, so most times, an informal discussion gives me more of a clue as to the personality of a person, and by extension, the type of garden that they would like.
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