Top Tips for a Great Garden

Our gardens are working harder than ever before, so never has it been more important to ensure the design and installation is professional and considered. Harrington Porter sets the industry standard when it comes to combining all the possibilities of outdoor living with year-round planting

Trained in horticulture and now respected as an expert in multifunctional outdoor living spaces, Harrington Porter founder, Chris Harrington, designs, builds and plants London gardens. Known as ‘lifestyle gardens’, these spaces offer families somewhere to entertain, play, relax, cook, and connect with the outside. Chris talks us through what to consider when embarking on a garden project.

Style – with substance Due to the large glazed doors many homes have now, our gardens are constantly on view, all year round. The explosion in the range of new materials available – composites, recyclables, weatherproof fabrics – means creating that inside/outside flow is becoming easier. “You can complement your interior, in terms of style, materials and colours,” explains Chris. “Large porcelain tiles work well inside and out, but even parquet flooring can be replicated outside by laying clay pavers in a herringbone pattern. If you have an outdoor kitchen, you can replicate your interior – more materials have been developed for external use so you can match elements like worktops and fittings.”

Adaptable design Built-in seating is still a fantastic solution for smaller gardens. It creates a focal point, is an efficient use of space and with the right design can double up as a daybed when you want to relax. “The range of off-the-shelf garden furniture is excellent,” Chris says. “But built-in corner benches still work well. They are very adaptable, and designed with collapsible chairs and tables add flexibility. We design firepits that double as coffee tables – you can change things up as and when you need to.”

Considered use of space Aspect is the all-important consideration for planting, but there are other things to consider when configuring the layout of your outdoor living space. “Which way should your seating face depending on when you get the sun? Where will you be cooking? It needs to be convenient for access to the house, but you don’t want to smoke out your interior. Do you want a children’s play area tucked away or in full view?” asks Chris.

Ongoing maintenance “When it comes to enjoying year-round planting, there’s a balance between structure and seasonality. Everyone loves flowers but they must be balanced with evergreens in a city environment. And understand that either you have a good maintenance company to help you or you must dedicate your time to it. There is no such thing as a low maintenance garden!”

Year-round use Great gardens require investment so it makes sense for it to be as useable as possible all year round. Your garden should be easy to clean, well-lit, with awnings or an overhead structure, and heating to extend its use at night or when it’s cold. “There are so many options available now including fire pits, wall heaters, festoon lights, even down to a selection of knee rugs in a basket, Soho House style!” But be aware of their quality. “There are so many products on the market now and typically you get what you pay for. This is never more relevant than when it comes to gardens. Quality and longevity are vital.”


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