Turning ideas into reality.

Before starting any work, mark out borders, walls, patios and paths with hose pipe, string, sand or spray paint. Take a walk around the garden confirming that things look right from different angles, don't forget to look at the garden layout from an upstairs windows. Adjust the size and shape of these features until you are happy.

Begin with the hard landscaping (building of garden structures), starting at the far end of the garden, working towards the house, this avoids running a wheelbarrow of concrete over your freshly laid patio. If you are incorporating a pond or lighting into your garden then bury (at least 18 inches deep) the electric cable and ducting at this stage.

Remove, move or prune large plants. If you are moving a shrub or tree make sure that you take plenty of soil with the roots.

Check the pH level, condition and drainage of the soil in the borders. Plants need humus rich, well-drained soil. Thoroughly weed the borders and feed with compost, well-rotted manure or a general fertiliser.

It is important that prior to any planting that the ground is prepared. Preparation is very simple to do by ensuring that the ground is thoroughly dug (see double digging) or removing weeds and other unwanted debris. If this is too strenuous then dig planting holes twice the depth and twice the width of the plant pot, lightly turn over the soil in the bottom of the hole with a fork and put plenty of well-rotted manure or compost in the hole. Incorporating manure or compost will improve soil structure and help the soil retain moisture. Spent mushroom compost is widely used by contractors but this does increase the alkalinity of the soil.

Position new shrubs and flowers on the borders in their pots, where they are to be grown, starting with large trees and shrubs in the background working forward with smaller plants. Take your time and have regular walks around the garden, look at the plant layout from all possible vantage-points.

Water all plants in their pots a couple of hours before knocking them out of their pots. Plant container grown plants at the same depth in the border that they have been in the pot. Back-fill the hole with soil, firming as you go. Firm delicate and small plants with your hand, larger plants can be firmed in with the heal of your boot. Water your plants in, to make sure the soil and compost are in close contact with the plan roots. When planting mix a little bone meal with your soil or potting compost to help early root development.

Lay or sow a lawn after you have completed the hard landscaping and the planting of the borders.


  • When planting clematis, plant it 3 inches deeper than it was in the pot to discourage clematis wilt.
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