Design Tips

Planning a house project? Please remember the garden…

0 Written by Lisa on 23rd Feb 2017 in Design Tips

I watched the first episode of The House That 100k Built last night.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s one of the most inspiring programmes of its type on TV.  I especially love the way Piers Taylor inspires the use of alternative, sometimes waste, materials to create something really individual and inexpensive that elevates the design to another level.

As with all renovation projects, the garden is often forgotten until the moment when the contingency budget is used up and there just aren’t any more resources left.  It makes me sad and frustrated because the houses are amazing, but they could be so much better with a garden that has been thought through and implemented with the same passion.

I completely understand why budgets get eaten up.  All you need is a couple of challenges along the way that need urgent attention and, poof, the money you’d set aside for a new terrace has disappeared into thin air. But even when funds are depleted, I do think it’s worth taking a step back to think through how the garden connects to the house.

The couple last night used gravel for the driveway and areas around the house which made sense because it’s one of the cheapest hard landscaping materials and funds were really tight, but using cheap materials doesn’t mean you can’t create a well-designed space.

If you get the design and balance of a garden right from the start, it’s possible to change the materials later if needs be.  So, for example, with areas to be hard landscaped, you’ll need a sub-base appropriate for use whatever material you choose.  So, in the case of a driveway, gravel could easily be scraped off and replaced with something else later if the infrastructure is right from day one.

One of my main criticisms of development sites is the lack of planting, especially against the house wall.  If the hard landscaping material meets the house wall it always looks really harsh. In front gardens, you risk your beautiful new renovated house looking like a carpark rather than a welcoming entrance to your home.

Plants, in comparison to hard landscape materials, are cheap.  You can buy small and watch them grow.  As long as the soil doesn’t breach the Damp Proof Course (DPC) there won’t be any issues.  If the levels are a challenge then leave the finished soil level lower than the finished level of the hard landscaping.  Once the beds are full of plants, you won’t even notice the difference.

So, enough said, I’m passionate about gardens.  If you’re planning a renovation project, I urge you to take a bit of time out to consider the design of the garden ahead of time so that you keep some money aside and don’t have to scrabble around at the end trying to make the best of a bad situation.

You don’t have to do the whole thing at once, but if you think about it ahead of time you’ll be able to ensure that the areas that need to be clean and elegant from day one are done in a way that will stand the test of time and won’t require destructing later when you realise you’ve made a big mistake.

Working with curves

0 Written by Lisa on 27th Jan 2017 in Design Tips

I’ve been drawing the design for a large garden in Hurley this week and it involved rather a huge chunk of time working out where all the radius points of my free-hand curves were. Read more

Why are gardens forgotten in house renovation projects?

0 Written by Lisa on 25th Feb 2016 in Design Tips


Have you been watching the BBC2 programme The £100k House – Tricks of the Trade?  I love it! It’s so inspiring to see what people do to their homes with modest and sometimes really small budgets. We’re certainly getting some great ideas for our own house. Read more

Protecting our precious trees

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Feb 2016 in Design Tips, Plants

Oak tree from the wood floor taken with wide angle lense by Lisa Cox

I’m currently working on a project where we have few trees on site that are subject to a Tree Protection Order (TPO).  Obviously I need to be absolutely sure that I create the new garden in a way that will ensure that the trees aren’t damaged so I’ve been taking advice from a professional arborist to ensure that we’re doing things right. Read more

Planning a new planting scheme – some tips to help you get started

1 Written by Lisa on 5th Feb 2016 in Design Tips

Helenium at Hauser & Wirth Somerset Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Now’s a great time to be planning for what’s to come in the garden and it seems more urgent this year with the rather early appearance of some of the spring bulbs.  Even on our windy hill we have Narcissus ‘Tête-a-Tête’ in flower already and primroses too, which have virtually been flowering since Christmas. Read more

Dealing with sloped gardens – five things to consider before you start

2 Written by Lisa on 25th Jan 2016 in Design Tips

Surveying kit

I’ve just started working with a new client who has a small but tricky garden because it slopes quite steeply and there are two pine trees that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Read more

It’s bulb planting time!

0 Written by Lisa on 1st Oct 2015 in Design Tips, Plants

Golden narcissus at RHS Garden Wisley Lisa Cox

I’ve just returned from Surrey after 5 long days planting my project in Weybridge.  No photos yet I’m afraid as it wasn’t looking very photogenic without the lawn and with the protective boards down on the terrace.  But I’ll be popping back at the end of October armed with my camera so I’ll share the pictures with you as soon as I can. Read more

The importance of creating focal points

5 Written by Lisa on 17th Aug 2015 in Design Tips

Bench in Homebase Garden RHS Chelsea 2014 Lisa Cox Designs

However large of small your garden is, introducing deliberate focal points will help to create a journey around your garden. Read more

Fences won’t work for a windy site

0 Written by Lisa on 28th Jul 2015 in Design Tips

Elder in flower Lisa Cox Garden Designs

What you can always guarantee when you live high up on a hill is a breeze.  A couple of weeks ago when the sun was blazing hot we certainly welcomed it, but on other days it can make things a little chilly. Read more

Softening the edges in small gardens

4 Written by Lisa on 6th Jul 2015 in Design Tips

Grass mounds Hauser Wirth Somerset Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Using curves in small spaces can be a challenge as often there just isn’t the space to allow the curve to be what it is. Read more

Lisa Cox Welcome

I specialise in helping families to turn their gardens into an extension of their home and into a space that can be used and enjoyed all year round.

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