Above: The white stems of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii come alive with the lush green backdrop and are complemented by the light coloured natural stone bench together with the white Iris, foxgloves and more. Then those luscious purple Aliums and more blue and deep red tones introduce some wonderful contrast.

STOP AND LOOK It's the key to happiness. How often do you go about your business without really seeing anything?

The spaces between 'things', the colours, shapes, patterns, size, shadows... there's so much to see in just one tiny space. Take planting. Some combinations are glorious, but you barely notice if you just walk by. Here's some of our favourites from a July planting viewpoint:

Above: Hardy geranium 'Rozanne' is set off by its foliage, but also makes a great contrast with the rusty metal cat and white background.

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO START introducing some imaginative planting and features into a garden. Got a bare wall; a raised bed; an empty spot in the border? Consider climbers and scramblers such as Clematis, passiflora (passion flower), wall shrubs and low-growing, spreading herbs such as thyme or prostrate rosemary. Use plants to soften edges and to blend the hard landscaping with the soft.

The bare wall (above) has been effectively softened by the aromatic, creeping rosemary (left) and the bright green lemon thyme (right). What's more, they can be used in the kitchen too. Make your garden work for you.

Fences are (generally) the most ugly feature of a garden. Especially stained orange/brown! Do you really enjoy staring at those basic, vertical panes of nothingness? Did you know that a standard fence panel offers you more than three square metres of planting space? A modern garden might have around 18 or so fence panels. That's more than 54 metres of planting opportunity.

Clematis not only produce the most amazing flowers, but many of them have fluffy seedheads too.

There's further great advantages to clothing your fences with climbers. It blurs your boundaries and makes your garden appear to be larger. It also offers excellent hiding places for birds and other beneficial creatures. Improving biodiversity is hugely important for the planet and for us humans too.

Did you know that a ladybird is capable of eating 50 aphids per day? So not only does it aid pollination, provide food for other creatures and look beautiful, but it helps your plants to keep healthy too.

THINK ABOUT COLOURS. There are contrasting tones that appear on the opposite side of the colour wheel. Then there are adjacent tones that are calm and harmonious. Every colour can be traced back to three basic colours: red, yellow and blue. These are primary colours.

Highly contrasting tones create excitement and energy, such as red and blue or green; purple and orange or yellow. Colour hues that appear next to each other are harmonious. Each creates a mood and a theme. There's temperature to consider too - reds, oranges and yellow are 'hot' or at least 'warm' and green, blue and purple are 'cool'.

Visualising colour in terms of a simple colour wheel allows you to appreciate the maximum contrasts

Creating a colour theme in a garden is a lot of fun. It also helps you to decide what to plant. Although there's always more things too consider, including the aspect (how much sun do the plants require?) and the type of soil (some plants won't survive in a boggy soil, for example).

Contrasting colours of the dark red Acer palmatum (above) together with ornamental grass Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' create a dynamic visual treat. But there's more to consider... both of them prefer to be in partial shade and the Acer likes acidic soil.

There are plenty of things that a novice gardener can try in order to introduce some colour, fun and organisation into a garden. It doesn't need to involve large amounts of cash either.

  • Plant annuals in pots for instant impact.

  • Utilise unusual containers for added interest.

  • Place groups of pots together for greater effectiveness.

  • Tidy away rubbish.

  • Sweep and clean the patio and paving.

  • Mow the lawn and trim the edges.

Develop a theme that draws your garden together rather than random things dotted about. Groups of similar items make a great show.

NONE OF THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE. It's all about giving people (yourself included) things to look at and enjoy. A little thought goes a long way. Pay attention to detail and you will suddenly realise that you are noticing more. Gardens and the outdoors are truly life-enhancing!

A colour clash can be a truly positive treat. These three tones (above) lift the spirits. Oxidalis and trailing Begonia.

This Phormium 'Jester' (above) together with the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', continue a colour theme along the raised bed, thus drawing the theme of the garden together.

If there's just one thing you do for yourself before the summer ends, give your garden a bit of a makeover. Even planting one shrub, perennial or filling a pot will make a difference. But two or three would be even better!

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Updated: Aug 30, 2020

Let's not even think about the interior. #kirstyandphil have already got it covered. We're looking at #gardens and #outdoorrooms in this blog by gardendesignideas.co.uk

The clue's in the name, of course, and, yes, research shows that gardens can add up to 20% of value to a home. Clearly, that's a significant amount. Bearing in mind that the average house in the UK is worth nearly £227,000, it doesn't need an 'A' Level maths qualification to work out that a decent garden might add more than £45,000 to the price. You suddenly like gardening, don't you? But how do you go about designing a garden?

You don't need to turn into a horticultural expert in order to add value to your home: just use some common sense and maybe take some advice.

And what do we mean by 'decent' in terms of a garden? Huge? Nope. Flat? Neh. Ornate or quirky? Definitely not that. Although there's nothing wrong with incorporating unusual features within a garden design.

Quite simply, for maximum appeal, a garden needs to be well thought-out, tidily maintained, attractive and appealing to the masses. A garden should feel like a sanctuary and an extension of the home. Ideally the flow should be easy as nobody wants a contorted journey through awkward doors just to access the outside.

This is why a well designed garden wins over a space that hasn't been given much thought. There are many reasons why it's a good idea to be pro-active with a garden design, and value of a property is just one of them.

Make sure the flow from indoors to outdoors is simple. This space definitely asks to be explored.

So, now look at your own. Does it feel insignificant? Are you proud of your outside space or is it just an afterthought? If you admit to the latter, you'll be interested to discover that the majority of buyers look for these most important features:

  • Easy to maintain (or at least the perception at a glance)

  • Private and safe

  • Good fencing (it keeps the kids contained, and the pets too)

  • Storage space (we all have too much 'stuff')

  • Pleasant areas for relaxing and dining

  • Good quality paving

  • Space to play

  • Lawn

Appealing? Probably not. This garden looks like it needs a lot of hard work and it presents an unappealing prospect for a house buyer.

People now really want a nice garden, in fact 37% of people in the UK spend more time in their garden than they did just five years ago. The outside space has become majorly important. You only need wander around a garden centre or to browse shops online to notice the demand for patio furniture, barbecues, outdoor kitchens, patio heaters, ornaments and lighting. There are certain months of the year that prevent us from spending much time outdoors, but we've effectively managed to extend the outdoor season by improving surfacing, giving ourselves shelter from wet weather and warming things up a bit.

Eating outdoors is cool! Even if the weather isn't sunny, there are heaters to warm up the guests.

According to recent research, people now expect to gain the following pleasures from their garden:

· Relaxation (a sense of being able to 'get away from it all')

· Gardening enjoyment: tending to plants, mowing the lawn and nurturing the space.

· Dining and socialising

· Play

Gardens are for relaxation. You don't necessarily need a hammock (or a dog) but a comfy seat is always inviting.

And here are the main desirable features that will add the most in terms of value. They have been ordered in terms of importance:

  • A well-organised and sizeable shed, complete with racking and shelving.

  • Good quality paving

  • Secure boundary fence and gates

  • Water feature (not too large; certainly not a swimming pool which is considered hard to maintain)

  • A tidy, yet interesting appearance

  • Garden furniture arranged in a manner that is easy to access and use

  • Lawn

  • Lighting

A well-organised, sizable shed is said to be one of the most important features of a desirable garden.

The front garden is just as important, if not more so than the back. Why? It's all about kerb appeal. Just ask #kirstyandphil. Most people drive by a house before they decide to view, so you want yours to sparkle.

A neat, tidy and attractive front garden makes a highly attractive exterior and it helps to make a property desirable.

Here's how to impress the prospective buyers who might be cruising past:

  • Excellent presentation. Tidy beds and lawn, neat edges, no litter, no dead or straggly plants

  • Structure, shape and form: introduce some topiary if it's winter. Make it clear where the beds or lawn end and the parking or path begins

  • Harmony in terms of style and colour. Front door; hanging baskets; fences; plants; paving and surfacing should complement the style of the house.

  • Plants! People like to see greenery and it makes them feel good. A tree is great, but make sure it's a species that won't cause any problems in terms of roots, shade or sticky deposits.

Topiary can give great structure to a garden during winter when there are few flowers around.

Check list: rush out and improve these things before you put your home on the market:

  • Remove litter and dead plants

  • Add some colourful or shapely plants

  • Replace or repair damaged fences and sheds

  • Mow the lawn and trim the edges

  • Simplify any fussy shapes and remove ornaments if there are many

  • Make sure your garden furniture looks appealing and is easily-accessible from the house

A tidy, attractive garden contributes hugely to achieving a good price for a property.

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We would love to hear from you.  Simply email: carolineinthegarden@gmail.com.

A free initial site visit will help you decide whether you would like our help

to create a design plan for your outside space. 

Once you have your plan, you can take it to the landscaper of your choice,

or we can recommend our landscaping partners.

 Caroline Knight BA (Hons) Garden Design.