Design Tips

Big flowerbeds are better

1 Written by Lisa on 2nd Sep 2014 in Design Tips

The Flower Garden at Loseley Lisa Cox Designs

Often when I’m working with clients they are concerned about turning too much of the garden over to planting.  This is especially the case when they want a low maintenance garden.  Although they often become interested, many of my clients don’t start off as very keen gardeners and the reason they want to work with a professional is because they don’t have the first clue about plants and what to do with them.

Herbaceous border at Hampton Court Palace Garden Lisa Cox Designs

I’ve talked about the design process before and how when you’re approaching a plan you should decide on the shape and flow of the elements you want to include i.e. shape of the terrace, lawn, pathways etc, whilst trying to ignore the boundaries and angle and shape of the plot as a whole.  The planting beds then become the bits leftover and will be in some cases a rather odd shape, but this doesn’t matter because once they’re full of plants you just won’t notice.

Kitchen Garden at loseley house

One of the biggest considerations at the planning stage is the size of your flowerbeds.  They really need to be deep if you are to end up with a layered planting scheme that provides interest all year round.  1.5 metres or more is ideal so that you don’t end up with just one row of plants.

Think in terms of plants and you’ll understand what I mean.  For example, one lavender plant will eventually take up 50- 60cm of space, sometimes more depending on the variety, so if you want to plant something else behind it in the border you’ll need at least double that to provide an opportunity without everything becoming overcrowded.

Helenium at Saville Garden 2

You just need to look at the long herbaceous borders that are synonymous with English gardens.  At Wisley the herbaceous borders are at least 5 metres deep and this means there’s scope for the garden to look spectacular from spring to autumn.

The constraints of small town gardens unfortunately doesn’t allow the luxury of deep borders but if you can provide as much space, at least in some of the planting beds, you’ll be rewarded with a much more interesting garden.  If you have to restrict the size of the beds then choose your plants wisely – large shrubs just won’t work if there’s only 60cm planting depth.

West borders at Woolbeding house

This is particularly important if you’re planting alongside a lawn because if there’s not enough space for the plants you have chosen, they’ll hang over and encroach on the grass, eventually killing it off underneath.  To create a layered effect in this situation, use the fences or boundary walls to support climbers.

Wisteria at Loseley Park

So the moral of the story is to give your plants space to breathe.  Don’t be worried about shaving off half a metre or more from your lawn – the impact of having better planting will far outweigh the small amount of grass you’ve lost in the process and will normally make the garden feel bigger anyway.


Plans for small gardens – circles can be tricky beasts

0 Written by Lisa on 19th Aug 2014 in Design Tips

Cobble paving by Maggie Howarth at Gresgarth Hall

Small gardens are often more challenging to design because generally people want to fit in the same list of things they’d want if their garden was half an acre. Read more

Some planting design tips to help you along

0 Written by Lisa on 15th Aug 2014 in Design Tips

Planting Oxshott Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Planning a planting scheme takes time.  There’s so much to think about and consider to get it right.  As well as the constraints of the site (soil/aspect/drainage), you need to think about the aesthetic qualities of the plant (shape, form, foliage, colour) as well as how well and how long it performs for and of course how long you have to wait for it to become fully grown. Read more

Good design is all about balance

0 Written by Lisa on 4th Jul 2014 in Design Tips

Side garden restructured Lisa Cox Designs

I’ve recently been working with a client in Woking who, after a big project to renovate the house, needed some help to lift the garden.  They’d already installed the paving and brought in lots of mature specimen plants, but the garden just hadn’t really come to life and they didn’t feel very inspired to spend time out there. Read more

Create your garden course – Week 2

0 Written by Lisa on 14th May 2014 in Design Tips, From the drawing board

Week 2 create your garden workshop Decor Cafe Lisa Cox

Yesterday was week 2 of my Create Your Garden course at The Decor Cafe in Putney, which I’m running with friend and fellow garden designer, Sarah Speller. Read more

Create your garden course – Week 1

0 Written by Lisa on 7th May 2014 in Design Tips, From the drawing board

Design your own garden course Lisa Cox The Decor Cafe

It was the first week of my new garden styling and design course at The Decor Cafe yesterday.  I’m running it with friend and fellow designer, Sarah Speller, and it will run over three consecutive Tuesday mornings. Read more

Make the most of your garden course – just 4 weeks left to book!

0 Written by Lisa on 4th Apr 2014 in Design Tips

Working through a sketch with attendee at The Decor Cafe garden design workshop Lisa Cox

It’s just four weeks until my new ‘how to make the most of your garden’ course starts at The Décor Café in Putney.  I’m running the course with my friend and fellow garden designer, Sarah Speller.  As you know, I’ve delivered workshops before, but this one will be slightly different because it will run over three consecutive weeks. Read more

My outdoor living article for M&S Bank

0 Written by Lisa on 27th Mar 2014 in Design Tips, Inspiration

Designing your garden for outdoor living article M&S Bank Lisa Cox Designs

I’m excited to show you the finished article I’ve written for M&S Bank which went live on their website this week. Read more

Ilex crenata – a brilliant alternative to Box

0 Written by Lisa on 14th Feb 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Victorian driveway edging Lisa Cox Garden Designs

If you read my blog on Tuesday then you’ll know that I planted a double hedge in the front garden in North London.  My client was a bit worried about box blight so we decided instead to use Ilex crenata (Japanese Holly) for the low hedge. Read more

Front garden design tips: What about the plants?

6 Written by Lisa on 7th Feb 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Front garden design London Lisa Cox

This is the last post in my blog series about front gardens.  I hope you’ve found it useful and now feel inspired to tackle your own? 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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