Hard landscapes are an attribute to all gardens
Flowerbeds and lawns are the perennial garden setting in most properties; why not consider enhancing the garden with new dimensions of hard landscaping? The function and practicalities introduced with new features of hard landscapes are visually attractive, often labour saving and functional in their use.
November to March is a less active time workwise, so consideration to uplift the appearance of the garden beckons in many ways. A list of such areas would include pathways, patios, parking, driveway, fences, walls, barbecue area, gates, statuary, gazebos, arbour and trellis, offering something for every garden.
Some of the above being more functional and practical than others, eg footpaths will save wear and tear from foot traffic on the lawn, as to will a patio and barbecue area both from foot traffic and the presence of tables and chairs being moved around as well as shading lawn areas. Patios and barbecue areas should be close to the house and to each other from a practical point of view. Footpaths should be wide enough to accommodate two people walking side by side to avoid wearing out the adjacent lawn.
Driveways and turning areas should be able to accommodate ease of movement with vehicles especially parking and reversing areas and avoid parking or driving on lawn areas, which simply increases compaction and weed growth in the worn areas. The use of hard areas “guides” the pedestrian and car driver to stay off the grass and arrests soil compaction, which can have an adverse effect on retaining a healthy weed-free lawn
Fences and walls act to protect trespass and offer privacy to the garden in general and sitting – patio areas – in particular. Fences can be extremely attractive and enhance a garden either as a standalone item or for accommodating vines. Gates are also a protection barrier to stop unwanted access again, being an attractive addition if designed to blend in with the surrounding area.
Gazebos make a bold statement in any garden especially when located to highlight a view. They can be open-sided with the option of dropped sides as protection against bad weather.
In larger gardens visual impact can be highlighted by using arbours, which when dripping with vines can look quite spectacular; positioning is key to making an immediate impact.
Bare walls are not the most interesting sights, softening them with a trellis creates the opportunity to create a green curtain effect with vines both flowering and evergreen to create interest throughout the season. Install trellis on blocks of 3in-by-3in pieces of wood to allow growth through the trellis as well as allowing airflow through the trellis and growth. Being installed on blocks also allows for the trellis to be lowered when the walls require painting.
Garden furnishings also deliver a new dimension, be it old vases planted, old garden benches located on a “hard” area on the lawn and with an interesting view or other garden paraphernalia or statuary placed in the flowerbeds, their form and shape add interest to the foundation planting. Such artefacts as old wheelbarrows and old metal milk churns are ideal for this creative impact.
When considering the addition of containers around the garden, be it in flowerbeds or on a hard area, remember the need for irrigation for the containers, surrounding flowerbeds and lawn. Consider the installation of faucets around the garden by installing pipe along the edges of bed and slightly buried to accommodate the need without having to trail hosepipes across the lawn and through flowerbeds.
Design the garden for both function and appearance creating a minimal maintenance landscape and a more visual enhancement to the garden when viewed from all angles.
• Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in Britain. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, the Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society