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Posted by on in Garden Design

When people are very busy in their lives, priorities have to be given to how their time is spent and when that also involves running a business, the garden can become bottom of the list.

I have had the pleasure of rejuvenating two gardens recently where my clients are extremely busy running and expanding new businesses. The first garden hadn’t been maintained in over a year and although I liked the bluebell/dandelion combination. It was perhaps not the first choice for the route to the front door. I suggested removing a conifer that didn’t fit in with the formal design and created a significant amount of shade to one room. It is still work in progress but a seat will be placed between the lovely window boxes that can now be seen and then some subtle finishes added to provide a personal touch that reflects the personality of the owner.

The next is a garden originally designed by one of my students and works well but is being over used by three young boys. After an initial tidy up, discussions centred round changing materials to accommodate activities and play equipment. Although I’m not a fan of artificial turf, it may be a short term solution to allow a trampoline to be moved onto it from a sunny corner, to provide the opportunity for seating for the family in daytime sun. It also reduces maintenance in the borders where cutting the existing grass creates an increased weeding task. I still have to consider the flexibility to return the garden to its original layout once the children have grown out their current pastimes. Growing out of playing on a trampoline could take them to adulthood though!

I get a great deal of pleasure from restoring a garden to the point where my clients feel confident enough to take on the maintenance again. Gardens can reach that point, sometimes quickly, where the tasks are too daunting and therefore they give up and don’t do anything. That, of course, creates gardens that fall into a state of neglect and need a kick start to bring them to life. This is the challenge that I love and sometimes it can take a full season of around ten visits to achieve and others take one or two visits. The greatest pleasure though is seeing my clients heading off into their garden full of enthusiasm to maintain their plot!

Diane Pyper Tel. 07703 175334

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Posted by on in Garden Design

Well, after an amazingly short period on the market my house is sold, thanks to Turpie & Co. and I’m busy tidying up the garden for the new owner to take control in May. With a little understanding of plants, the garden is fairly easy to maintain, 5 days per year isn’t too much of a chore!

There is no grass to cut and therefore no problem with it encroaching into the borders, therefore maintenance is greatly reduced.

So now I have to turn my attentions to living in a flat with a communal garden that no-one seems interested in…….until I start to work on it no doubt! 14 flats share a medium sized plot, so this is going to be a challenge to get so many to agree to any improvements. It was interesting that the estate agent didn’t take me to the garden but only made reference to it from the lounge window after I enquired. Garden maintenance comes at a price, although in this case none, but unless somebody, or everybody takes responsibility for the upkeep, there can be an expensive bill due for the inevitable tidy up once surrounding neighbours start to complain. I think there is at least one tree in the garden and that can be costly to maintain if any tree surgery is required. Boundary fences may require upgrading or repairing, shrubs pruned etc. so it’s always worthwhile checking to see if any short term expense is likely in any garden whether it be private or communal.

A neglected communal garden is a sign that neighbours can’t agree on who does, or pays for its upkeep and when the majority aren’t interested then you have to consider if it’s worth the effort to take on this task. I’m hoping that I get left to potter around and create simple spaces to sit and enjoy the sun. I don’t want to spend too much time or money so I’ll have to work with second hand, or simply constructed furniture and plants that are surplus to requirements in my clients’ gardens. In time, the garden will be an asset to me and also my neighbours and I can only hope that they will come and join in the fun.

When viewing a house, it is always a good idea to ask homeowners how much time they spend maintaining their garden to give an idea of the commitment you’ll have to make to its upkeep. All too often, I meet clients who want to reduce their maintenance time because they find themselves taking on too big a challenge. Gardens should be a pleasure not a chore and in many cases, simple changes that can be made to ease the burden and make your garden enjoyable.

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Posted by on in Garden Design


I seem to have switched roles last month from designer to gardener. We were preparing one garden for planting and had to remove some shrubs and trees as well as pruning shrubs and climbers. So often I despair when I see plants pruned badly, either to within an inch of their life or the classic ball shape created by trimming the outside of the plant. As well as being a skill, there is a design element to pruning and creating the right shape can be a rewarding asset to any garden. Once the client understood what we were trying to achieve and saw the difference we made to the space, he joined in the debate and suggested we remove a birch tree to extend the view into a woodland. As we had made some drastic decisions with other plants, we had decided to leave the birch as it was such a good specimen. However, he was correct as his approach was pragmatic and it opened up the view. For once the tables were turned as our client adopted objective thinking….lesson learned!


On another project I had £1000 budget for ground preparation and planting, once some conifers and planters were removed, so I reshaped the borders on the lawn and created new borders where the planters had been. Once planted there seemed to be little to show for my 3 day effort but I’m looking forward to the long term result for this sloping garden. The client now has a fresh start to maintaining the open space and appreciates the need for regular maintenance to achieve the best result for their investment.

Day of planting

Designer can have a role to play when considering maintenance of an existing mature garden and it is worth consulting with one that has gardening knowledge before embarking on a full scale clear out. In many cases a plant can be rejuvenated into a fine specimen that would otherwise be expensive to replace or take a number of years for a smaller substitute to mature. Also a designer will consider all aspects of the garden and in most cases cast a pragmatic eye over the overall solution. With the planters and conifers, I was originally asked to remove the conifers and repair the planters. This would have been very expensive so I suggested they were removed as they served little purpose and their budget spent on plants instead.

Diane Pyper Tel. 01506 414459
facebook – New Dimensions Garden Design
twitter - @DianePyper

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