Sunday, 21 February 2021

What to do with a New Build garden

A little while ago, I was contacted by a potential Client, who had just bought a new build house, and wanted me to come and “do” the garden for them.

Unfortunately, landscaping a new build is not what I do: I'm more of an on-going horticulturalist, whereas with a new build you usually need blokes to do the heavy work such as moving soil, laying patios and paths, etc.

I spent some time with the owners, discussing the best way forward, and having organised all my ideas, I thought I might as well share them with the rest of you.

Having actually had a new build house myself, once (never again!), I would suggest that if you don't already have firm ideas of what you want from a garden, it might be best to consider just having it turfed over to start with.

This will allow you to walk on it for your first year, while you sort out the inside of the house, settle into the area, and learn where the sun falls, where the wind blows, where you like to sit out, which parts feel overlooked, how much bigger the patio needs to be (!), whether you need a shed, what you want to grow, and so on. This will also give you time to think about designs and layouts etc. 

It can be a mistake to rush into landscaping, especially the hard stuff like patios, paths, raised beds and shed locations - it would be annoying to pay a lot of money to get it "just so" and then find out that the path is in the wrong place! So sometimes it's better to allocate the first few months to just getting used to being there. 

Sneakily, this will also give you time to observe what your neighbours do, and if you see someone else on the new site having good work done, you can ask them for the name of their handyman, builder, and/or landscaper. And of course your own immediate neighbours might add extensions, conservatories, plant trees etc which might affect how you use and enjoy your own garden. 

There is a philosophy, in gardening circles,  which suggests that when you move house and inherit an existing garden, 'one' should not do anything for a whole year, to see what plants appear, as the seasons pass.  

This is very sensible advice: it also gives you a chance to appreciate why the previous owners planted an enormous conifer just there, for example. It would be annoying to have a big tree expensively cut down, only to realise that, without it, next door's windows are suddenly looking right down into your patio: or that car headlights now shine right into your garden: or something equally annoying.

And, in a similar way, it's often prudent to let your new build garden settle, before you start proper gardening. Often, the first winter will reveal sodden areas where the soil is badly compacted, areas which might need drainage, and so on.

So, even though you might be really keen to get your new garden up and running, it's often better to take a step back from it, and give it a bit of time: not necessarily a whole year, but enough time to properly assess your new outdoor space. After all, you are hopefully going to be there for many years to come, so it's worth taking a bit of time, right at the beginning.


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