As the RHS Chelsea Garden Show makes a welcome return to our lives, we’re sharing tips on creating a Chelsea garden of your very own.
- Invest in the services of a garden designer
- Decide on a theme or a story for your garden
- Think about function before you think about form
- Choose materials and plants wisely
- Ask a professional landscaper to build your garden
How a garden designer can add the wow factor to your outdoor space
Designing a garden is harder than you might think. There’s more to it than deciding on which features you like and then plonking them down on a plan. Garden design also looks at technical aspects such as dealing with slopes, making sure the drainage works well and complying with planning laws where necessary.
Designers have an uncanny knack for knowing what a garden needs and marrying that up with the owners’ lifestyle choices. For example, a sloping garden may lend itself to a series of terraces – but should they be straight lines or curved? Generously planted or minimalist? Where should the focal points sit in relation to the home and garden structures?
All of those beautiful gardens you see at RHS shows are the result of many hours of design decisions leading to unique combinations of plants and materials. It takes an experienced eye to design a great garden.
A well designed garden looks as good after dark as it does in daylight
Decide on a story or a theme for your garden
If you are lucky enough to visit a garden show – or if you take time to browse their websites – you’ll notice that each plot has a story behind it. We see sensory gardens aimed at improving wellbeing. Gardens for cooks with outdoor kitchen equipment and lots of edible plants. There are water gardens, colour themed gardens, gardens that extoll the joys of recycling, gardens for entertaining ….the list goes on.
How would you theme your garden? Will it be designed to remind you of a great holiday? Or to reflect the interests of someone you want to remember? Perhaps you have a favourite colour? Or maybe you want to attract birds/bees/hedgehogs?
Giving a garden a theme is what will make it unique to you.
Function before form
The layout of your garden and the features within it should always take priority over the decor. If you were building a house, you would set the rooms out carefully so that you can live comfortably within it. A garden is no different.
Think about the ways you’d like to use your garden. What “sections” to you need? A veg patch? Shed? Seating area? Play area? Storage for bins? Should those areas be in the sun? The shade? Hidden from view? Near to the kitchen door?
Now how will you travel between them? Paths? Stepping stones?
Never be afraid to mix and match materials – but try not to overdo it. Use the rule of 3.
Choosing plants and materials for your Chelsea garden
How your finished garden looks is really important. Getting that blend of colours and textures, heights and ratios just right is what will create the ambience you hope for.
Select your hard landscaping materials first. These will create the permanent features in your garden. The patio, paths, pergolas etc. Do you like a contemporary look, using porcelain pavers? Or are you a fan of a more Scandinavian style with timber decking? Think about the style of your property and its wider environment. The most beautifully designed garden can easily look out of place if the colours and materials clash with their surroundings.
Bear in mind that unless you have an unlimited budget, you will need to be able to look into the future. Those amazing mature trees and borders stuffed with so many plants that you can’t see the soil are the result of some BIG spending.
Your own garden probably won’t look like a Chelsea garden from day 1. But you will be able to see the potential. Young plants may take a couple of seasons to fill the space but don’t worry – if you’ve made the right plant choices, your patience will be rewarded.
Take advice from your garden designer on the right plants for your plot. If your designer is a horticulturist he or she will know exactly how to create the look you want by recommending plants that suit your soil type and aspect.
Craftsman built for that Chelsea standard finish
RHS Show gardens are normally built by the UK’s best and most experienced landscapers. These are all people who have been trained by craftsmen and worked alongside them for years in order to hone their skills. For a show standard garden, every single slab, decking board, pond liner, tree planting pit and fence post must be accurately placed and securely installed. One small mistake could ruin the whole thing.
For your own Chelsea garden, it’s worth investing in the services of the very best landscaper in your area. That might mean waiting a few months – those companies are in demand. But my goodness it’s worth the delay.
This year I have seen a lot of devastated homeowners with dreadfully built and even dangerous gardens as a result of hiring inexperienced landscapers. Please folks – be careful who you ask to build your Chelsea garden.
The Manor Landscapes Team have a strong reputation for building beautiful gardens that last. We’re long standing members of the APL too – which means that our customers can have peace of mind that we’re fully insured, reputable and capable. Need help turning your plot into a garden that’s good enough for Chelsea? Get in touch today.