Planning a new garden for the new year

Before spring kicks in you can already get thinking about how you are going to enjoy your garden in the months ahead.

If your garden is looking a bit tired and unloved through the colder months of the year, planning a makeover is the perfect way to brighten your spirits.

You can make a simple difference by investing in new flower beds or a couple of new shrubs or even a small tree. Perhaps consider a couple of hanging baskets – they’re not just for pretty cottage gardens and rural railway stations!

Here are a few tips if you want to starting planning something a little more bold.

Decking might have been the in-thing when garden makeover programmes were everywhere, but it can still work really well in larger gardens to add a different aspect. Decking works better in a sunny spot as this helps keep the wood in better shape, and even if you fit it yourself you need to consider ventilation and drainage, so choose a site with enough room.

Hardwood decking is more expensive than softwood but either should be fine for long-term enjoyment so long as the wood is properly treated and you keep up maintenance. It’s worth picking decking with a groove in it as it will grip better underfoot. If you are fitting it yourself, make sure you buy what you need from a store that can reliably provide you with all the equipment you will need for the foundations, the decking and extras like weed inhibitors for underneath the deck.

Perhaps a little less ambitious but still a great way to create new shape and colour in your garden, a rockery still takes a bit of work and investment.

The flowers you pick for your rockery will be small, so think about colours that have impact and your view of what you grow. That is, site the rockery near to the house so it can be enjoyed from the windows or situate it close to a spot where you like to sit outside.

Good rockery rocks aren’t cheap so you might want to pick a site in your garden that is secure, but at least once it’s all bedded in it will last for years. Whether you go for granite, slate or another kind of stone, there are a range of colours – dark greys, light greys, greenish hues and browns – so think about what will suit your tastes. Don’t forget these rocks will be heavy and paying a small delivery fee might save your back and your car’s rear axle!

Choose flowers that look good in low-level clusters – varieties of alpine flowers are ideal. A rockery will need some care so that weeds don’t overrun, swamping the small flowers or taking root under the rocks, so be prepared for a bit of hard work once in a while.

A patio is a much more adventurous project but is still manageable as a DIY job. However if your plot needs levelling and there are issues about drainage or existing pipework under the ground, it might be worth your while paying someone with experience to get your patio laid.

Patios don’t have to be huge – a small spread outside the back door and a pretty circular patch further down the garden in a sunny spot will work well. However if you like to entertain and have big parties then a larger patio might be what you need, especially with a corner location for a barbecue.

Before you decide on the right materials for your patio, have a look at other people’s gardens. It’s easy to take a patio for granted but large or small paving stones, light or dark finishes, textures and even or odd patterns all make a difference to whether you go for brick, paving or patterned concrete.

If you fancy pushing the boat out, you can incorporate seating into a walled patio design.