Design Tips

Some golden rules when choosing your paving

2 Written by Lisa on 25th Feb 2015 in Design Tips

I went to Southampton for a meeting about RHS Cardiff yesterday and one of the main things to decide were the hard landscaping materials.  It’s so important when you’re choosing your materials that you check they work well together, and are in keeping with whatever materials are already on site otherwise you could be looking out onto a garden that makes you cringe!

New terrace East Horsley Garden Design Lisa Cox

Now that spring is just around the corner and you’ll probably be waking up to the prospect of doing something with your garden, I thought it might be good to give you a quick reminder of the golden rules when you’re choosing which hard landscaping materials to use in your garden.

Colour & texture

Shady paving at Glyndebourne Lisa Cox Garden Designs - Copy

Only you can decide whether you want a modern or traditional feel to your garden, but the materials you choose will make an impact on the overall look.  If you prefer a modern contemporary style then you’ll probably want a sawn stone or concrete product which generally are more uniform in colour. For more gardens with a cottage garden feel, you may want to look at a reclaimed material to bring extra character and to tone in with the brick on the house, for example.

Front step & paving Sutton garden Lisa Cox Designs

3 is enough!

The golden rule is that you shouldn’t have more than three different materials in the garden, otherwise it becomes rather “busy”.  Timber is the only thing not included within the three as it tends to blend in with everything.

Wet and dry

When you’re choosing your materials, make sure you look at them in the wet too.  Often water can bring out the yellows and reds in materials which makes them rather garish when it rains.  Make sure you like them, whatever the weather.

Get samples

Samples of natural stone paving

Gather samples of the materials you like and take them back to your garden so that you can see them next to any existing materials.  This is especially important if you’re matching in with bricks or stone as what you feel looks great when you’re out at a display area, will not necessarily be the same when you’re back at home.


Leatherhead front garden Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Whether we like it or not, budget always impacts our choices.  If you have a large area of paving, for example, this can cost in the region on £100 m2 just for the materials, depending on what you choose.  So you may want to think about using the best stone for the most crucial areas and finding a different, less expensive material for secondary paths, say.  But there are some great products on the market now, sawn sandstone for example, which look great and don’t have to cost the earth.

Ornate drain in cobbled paving The Roman Forum Lisa Cox

North or South

If your garden faces north then you’ll need to take this into consideration as some porous stones such as slate and sandstone can become really slippery if you don’t maintain them regularly.  It doesn’t mean you can’t use them, you just need to be aware that you’ll need to pressure wash or clean the paving a couple of times a year.  But then, as I always say, you wouldn’t go a whole year without vacuuming your house so perhaps it’s not such a hardship to clean your paving every now and again!

Looking beyond your boundaries

0 Written by Lisa on 16th Feb 2015 in Design Tips

Majestic oak tree in Surrey hills Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Borrowing the landscape is a garden design trick of old.  Even if you’re not lucky enough to have a great view, it doesn’t mean that you can’t borrow some of the features from the neighbouring landscape. Read more

Do you really know your garden?

2 Written by Lisa on 27th Jan 2015 in Design Tips

Snowdrops Lisa Cox Garden Designs

We ventured out into the garden yesterday to do a bit of clearing up. The house had been empty for almost a year before we moved in and before that was rented out for a few years so the garden has really been left to its own devices. Read more

Tackling really small gardens

0 Written by Lisa on 25th Nov 2014 in Design Tips

Bletchingley courtyard sketch Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I’ve just been working on the designs for a client in Richmond who has the tiniest of gardens, just 25m2 to be precise.  Spaces this small can often be more challenging to design because it’s every square inch counts. Read more

The power of yellow…do you love to hate it?

0 Written by Lisa on 4th Nov 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Yellow day lilies at Loseley Park hemerocallis

When I first start to talk to clients about plants, the majority of people say that they don’t want any yellow.  From experience what they actually mean is that there’s a particular plant with a particular tone of yellow that they don’t like or want in the garden. Read more

The best gardening gloves in town

1 Written by Lisa on 24th Oct 2014 in Design Tips


I’ve recently ordered a new box of Atlas gardening gloves and it wasn’t until I was placing the order that I realised the last batch lasted me 5 years!  I was first introduced to them when I worked with Garden Designer, Fiona Stephenson, and I’ve used them ever since. Read more

5 trees that work hard in all seasons

0 Written by Lisa on 21st Oct 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Autumn colours in Wales Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I love the autumn when the leaves start to turn and the colours become warm and vibrant.  This year it seems to be taking a while to get going, in fact yesterday it was a barmy 20 degrees in Surrey, but there are some signs that the trees are turning. Read more

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. Read more

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

2 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

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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