The importance of good bed prep

0 Written by Lisa on 8th Jun 2018 in Design Tips, Plants

If there’s one thing that gets me going it’s when I arrive at site to carry out the planting and I have to pick up a fork because the beds aren’t prepared properly.

It can be tricky when you’ve had machines on site and the ground’s been worked a lot, but a good landscaper will think ahead when they start the job and retain any decent topsoil for re-use later.

I’m most suspicious when the beds look too good to be true, with a smooth covering of, what looks like, perfect soil.  Often that means it’s covering up something far less ideal.  Dig a hole for a shrub and the evidence is clear that things have been buried beneath the soil and it’s going to be a very hard day!

I appreciate that I’m having a bit of a rant, but good bed preparation not only gives the plants the best start possible, it also ensures that you don’t waste decent soil, time and money.

Even if the beds are rotavated or dug over with a machine, they still need to be hand dug.  This will ensure that the soil has been forked through properly and that any large stones and plant material can be removed before the plants go in the ground.

If you need to top up the beds with more soil then it’s worth the extra money to buy manufactured topsoil.  Screened soil essentially comes from skips or clearance from other sites so, even if it’s up to the British Standard, it still might have some contaminants that you don’t want around the roots of your plants.

Screened soil is fine for levelling off a lawn area before the turf is laid, but the beds need something a bit better in quality.  Often screened soil has small fragments of brick so it’s quite easy to spot.

The added bonus of manufactured topsoil is that you can order it with organic matter/compost already mixed in.

If you’re not bringing in any new topsoil then ideally you need to dig in some sort of organic matter which will help to enrich the soil and improve the structure and this should be forked through the soil by hand.

It really isn’t rocket science, if the beds are prepared properly it will give your plants the best possible start.  You’ll reap the rewards quickly when they establish much more quickly and your garden starts to flourish after just a few months.



Winter berries

2 Written by Lisa on 15th Dec 2017 in Design Tips, Plants

I don’t know about you, but I love foraging for foliage at this time of year.  I’m lucky now that we have holly and ivy in the garden, the hedgerows are full of hazel and the woodland up the hill has an abundance of pine cones.  Now that the snow has disappeared, I’ll be cutting some holly at the weekend for Christmas decorations. Read more

Wild flowers in the Swiss Alps

0 Written by Lisa on 29th Jun 2017 in Inspiration, Plants

We went to the Swiss Alps last weekend for a few days.  we’ve never been to Switzerland before and my Stepson is living there are the moment so we thought, why not? Read more

Snowdrop season is just around the corner

0 Written by Lisa on 11th Jan 2017 in Inspiration, Plants

January is always a long month, especially after the festivities of Christmas, but it won’t be long until the snowdrops start to emerge and I always think their arrival promises that spring isn’t that far around the corner. Read more

Time to be thinking about your spring bulbs

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Sep 2016 in Plants

Golden narcissus at RHS Garden Wisley Lisa Cox

Bulb planting is one of my least favourite tasks, I think perhaps because it takes quite a bit of effort and you have to wait a long time before you get to reap the rewards.  Even thinking about the future displays of spring flowers doesn’t always get me fully motivated! Read more

A visit to Jekka’s Herb Farm sparked a horticultural debate

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Aug 2016 in Inspiration, Plants

Jekka's Herb beds Lisa Cox Garden Designs

A couple of weeks ago I visited Jekka’s Herb Farm with the Garden Media Guild.  What an inspiring lady Jekka is, so passionate about what she does and about spreading the word about the benefits of herbs to our health and well being. Read more

RHS Chelsea 2016 – The plants of the show

0 Written by Lisa on 28th May 2016 in Inspiration, Plants

Foxgloves in Brewin Dolphin Garden RHS Chelsea 2016

It’s the final day of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 and I wanted to round off my week of blog posts with some of the plants that shone out at the show. Read more

Choosing plants that fit with their surroundings

0 Written by Lisa on 8th Mar 2016 in Plants

Fallas festival Valencia Lisa Cox Designs

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Valencia. A really great City that was just warming up for their annual festival “Fallas” which takes place in 2 weeks.  We experienced lots of firecrackers (a reminder of my days in Greece at Easter) and a daily afternoon firework display in broad daylight, which felt a little bizarre! 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

Low hedges – a few alternatives to Box

4 Written by Lisa on 6th Oct 2015 in Plants

Box topiary and stone bench in Box, Wiltshire

You may or may not have heard that there’s been an outbreak of box tree caterpillar in London and some of the Home Counties. The caterpillars eat the leaves and produce webbing over their feeding area which can eventually cause the plants to die. 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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