Insight 11 | How A Garden Makes A Home

Having just bought a beautiful one acre garden with a wreck of a Grade II listed cottage attached I am in the joyous throws of property and garden development and I appreciate how a garden can make a home.

Two thirds of us Brits, according to a recent survey, say that the garden is the deciding factor when buying a home. I thought that to be quite a lot but when you drive up to your home or step out in the back garden you realise just how important your own outdoor space is. The research also suggested that, as with may things, it’s not size, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Gardens affect peoples emotions. As the old adage goes You’re closest to God in the garden. Now, even if you aren’t religious like Dorothy Frances, the writer of God’s Garden, you get the idea.  Fresh air, greenery and the sweet smell of wisteria add hugely to the enjoyment of our home life. Gardens are our private sanctuary and privacy is very important when buying a home. Talking to a landscape designer last week she said Privacy is most people’s number one goal, that and hiding unsightly surroundings. This designer told me a story how one of her clients, who had just acquired a large country garden, wanted to be able to streak around with no one seeing them! I doubt he actually wanted to whip off his under crackers and prance about naked but, again, you get the idea.

To get the privacy we want in our new garden we are going to plant in strategic places so we are unseen by our neighbours and those walking the dog past the gate. We are planting pleached lime trees, which are great for screening, they also have a beautiful scent. Pleaching is a method of training trees to produce a narrow screen or hedge by tying in and interlacing flexible young shoots along a supporting framework. A big advantage of pleaching lime trees is that they create height without having the large bushy nature of hedging because the density is at the top; a bit like hedging on stilts. Some nurseries will form pleached hedges to order so you can get the clear stem height you want. Evergreens such as holm oak (Quercus ilex) Magnolia grandiflora and laurels are available. It may take a few years to get the desired effect and allow you to run around naked in the garden if you are planting yourself, but you will get there in then end.

For the city dwellers it is all about creating an easy, contemporary space that functions as an outdoor room. Decking, cover from the elements, speakers, lights and space for al fresco dining is all important, as well as space for children to get some fresh air. In our experience people want something eye-catching and fun with some raised beds and a space large enough to create a feeling of nature. If you plant carefully you can do this in a 10ft x 10ft space. To create that feeling of space I suggest creating interest above eye level like small, topiarised trees. This will give your garden a 3D effect and feeling of space. By lighting a small garden you allow the space to be used on evenings throughout the year.

There is a big difference between a house and a home, and this is where a garden matters. A green space that is well thought through, lovingly tended, enjoyed and well used, turns most houses into beautiful family homes, which is all of us aspire to.

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