Garden Feature Ideas

There are many garden features that need to be considered, such as lighting, pathways, pergolas, seating areas and water features.

Lighting garden features

How you plan to use the garden will dictate the type of lighting you need. If the garden is going to be used in the evening, then the seating areas need to be heavily lit. It’s also a good idea to use spotlights to highlight specific plants and features around the garden to create an elegant, soft glow. We use LED spotlights as they cost less to power than the equivalent bulb version.

LED spotlights are far superior to bollard lights, which are lights on pillars that are often used for driveways and pathways. It’s always best if you can’t actually see the light, and spotlights can be hidden so that you only see the illumination on the chosen feature or plant.

The number of spotlights should be enough that there isn’t too much black space but not enough to link together the areas of illumination. If there are so many lights that everything is illuminated, then you might as well just light the garden with a single, large security light bolted to the wall of the house! 

Water features

In the last 10 years, we have seen a rise in the number of water features available, from stainless steel balls to hollowed-out granite balls. If you plan to have a water feature, we recommend designing the garden first and then choosing a water feature that would complement the design.

Another consideration is why you are adding a water feature: is it just to create a feature or does it have a more practical purpose, such as providing white noise to drown out the sound of a nearby road?

The maintenance involved with water features varies. Most sit on a grid hidden by pebbles that covers a reservoir, and the water is recycled. The pebbles and grid stop leaves and other debris falling into the reservoir, and as they hide the water from the sun, it does not go green. Water features such as modern ponds, where there is a large surface area, need a substantial pump, a filtration system and a UV filter. We design each garden and water feature around your maintenance expectations.

Garden Irrigation

We have added many irrigation systems over the years, but they can cause more hassle than they are worth! There are three main ways of watering the plants: these are with a sprinkler, drip system and leaky pipe.

The sprinkler works well until the plants starts to grow, thereby stopping the range of water. Every two years the system should be checked to see if the plants are all getting the water they should.

Drip systems consist of a pipe connected to the mains, with a dripper for each plant (a small nozzle allowing the desired amount of droplet through for each plant). These systems are great for being able to calibrate the exact water requirements for each plant, but once a year the system needs to be checked to ensure there are no blockages or damage to the pipe work.

Secondary seating area

If you have a garden large enough for a second, separate seating area, then this allows you to have multiple seating options. For example, you could have a dining table and chairs on the main patio and maybe a sofa in the secondary seating area.

When sitting on a sofa, the experience is far better if you feel like you are surrounded by planting. Ideally, secondary seating areas should have a snug and cosy feel.

Raised walls

Raised borders are a contentious issue amongst garden designers. While some say they allow the designer to compartmentalise the garden, others believe raised borders are far too hard and intrusive and that it’s better to create the same effect by using something natural like a box hedge.

Five years ago, garden design was all about white rendered walls and a few palms. more modern paving materials, such as granite. The cottage garden has made a surprising return. Reclaimed bricks could be used here but be careful as they can be damaged in winter. It’s worth noting that in the last seven years, we have had two winters where temperatures have dropped down to -14°C.

Garden Pathways

Pathways can be put in for design reasons, such as enhancing the appearance of the garden and controlling how the eye moves around it, or for practical reasons, such as getting to your garden shed or avoiding walking across the lawn.

In small gardens, stepping stones are preferential as they don’t break the lawn up as much as a solid path would. In larger gardens, a solid paved pathway could be installed and in gardens that are rustic paths made using gravel or slate chippings are ideal. 

Please note that pathways are not always necessary. For example, if you only need to get to your shed in the summer or don’t mind walking across your lawn, you might not need one at all.