Approaches to garden design vary, from those containing strictly regimented rows of flowers, plants or vegetables, to those where it appears that a handful of seeds have been scattered on the ground and left to get on with it. By taking an approach somewhere between the two extremes, gardeners can design a space that is both attractive and practical.
Every garden needs to be looked after to a certain extent, as nature is highly unpredictable, but it does not have to be a constant chore. Far better to create a low maintenance garden in which to relax, with decorative ornaments and comfortable garden furniture, than to miss enjoying the garden because of having to spend every free hour dealing with it.
A practical approach
With the price of basic foods constantly increasing, more and more people are using their gardens to become self-sufficient in fresh fruit and vegetables. They not only taste better as they are so fresh, they also save a considerable amount on the tally at the supermarket checkout. Turning over all or part of a garden to growing vegetables and fruit is increasingly popular, and it is not at all difficult to design spaces that will produce regular and tasty crops.
Organizing the garden’s design can be completed on paper, tracing the garden’s current shape and adding ideas for its new incarnation. Decisions have to be taken about what to grow so that vegetable plots and areas for flowers and fruit trees can be marked out. If there is space, four vegetable plots are ideal to provide an annual rotation of crops.
Brassicas such as cabbage and cauliflower, potatoes, other root crops such as carrots and leeks, and peas and beans all require slightly different growing conditions and nutrients. Rotating the crops means that the soil does not get constantly depleted of nutrients, although using good compost and other fertilizers will help the soil to retain a good feed balance.
Raised vegetable beds can easily be created if there is adequate space available, and with grass or wood chip walkways between them can look very attractive. Growing spaces are usually square or rectangular, but there is nothing to stop the imaginative gardener from designing different shapes. A circular bed for herb growing is very nice and will attract bees and butterflies to the garden. Raised beds also make it easier to do the work of sowing, planting and then digging over at the end of the season.
There should always be room for flowers and shrubs in the garden design. Many flowers attract insects that are natural predators of destructive bugs that can affect vegetable growth, and they have the added advantage of looking beautiful when in full bloom.
There is little to compare with the taste of home-grown vegetables, freshly dug or picked and cooked immediately. There are no food miles involved, there is that sense of personal satisfaction at growing and eating things that have had real care and attention, and above all it is incredibly healthy.
Many gardeners do not use pesticides but work to develop an organic way of dealing with pests and diseases. They know where their produce is from and how it has been harvested, and have regained some control of the food supply chain. Growing your own is always the tastiest option.