Harrington Porter – Top Ten Considerations

Last Updated on : 1st February 2023

Winter is coming to an end. The clocks go forward at the end of next month and those first shoots of spring are starting to appear. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking about your garden.

Regardless of the size of your outside space, February is the ideal time to get planning and to be inspired by the possiblities and options for all areas outdoors.

Designers and landscapers would urge you to think, plan and revamp your garden in the autumn for the work to be done when you aren’t typically using the space. But it is understandable that until the first signs of spring are in the air, many other things take priority on the to-do list.

As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today”.

So worry not – it’s not too late…….

Harrington Porter – Top Ten Considerations

1. Consider how you will use your garden

Gardening and landscaping has come a long way in the last 10 years and how we use our gardens has changed, especially in the city.
Gardens can be an oasis of calm, with abundant planting and a tranquil water feature, or they can be multi-functional areas for all members of the family with attractive options for seating, cooking, entertaining and play.

2. What is your style?

A huge amount of inspiration to suit of all styles and tastes is available across various platforms – Pintrest, Google images, Houzz, online magazines – you name it. Our social media feeds push images of aspirational interior and exterior photos constantly.
What to choose and how to decide? ‘Like’ the #inspo photos you’re drawn to and eventually you should see a theme running through them – a keen designer’s eye certainly will!
Cottage garden or contemporary? High maintenance or low? Flowing and floral or linear and lush? A good garden designer should stay true to their core design values but always consider a client’s requirements and develop their design accordingly.

3. Who will design it and who will build it?

With all the options available to us it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Choose an experienced professional to help with that process. It will be money well spent and will aid in every area – from the aesthetics, through to costing.
Within the landscaping industry it can be quite confusing as the approach varies greatly.
– A designer, who will draft in landscapers to build your design. Can they deliver on time and on budget?
– Design and build firms, who do everything in-house and under one roof – cohesive, but will you get the best design?
– Landscape gardeners, who will simply quote for what you ask for. But who is planning what and what are they actually costing – will there be unforeseen extras?
– Architects who dip their toe into the garden layout as well as builders who offer to build your garden? An easy add-on to a house renovation or a case of professionals extending themselves into areas they’re not experienced in?

4. When will you carry out the work?

There is no perfect time to build a garden. Carry out the work whenever suits you, your home and your family best. Logic says, undergo extensive work when you’re not using your garden – but with the right design you should be using your garden all year round!
However, winter does still carry the threat of frosts which can halt construction work. That said, we are very lucky in London – hard frosts are relatively uncommon. Who’d be a landscaper in Scotland?! From a horticultural perspective, early spring and autumn are the best planting seasons.

5. What materials to use?

A vast range of exterior use materials are available and whilst not quite at interior levels, development is quick and options increase yearly. Sustainability and ethical sourcing should be considered. Longevity in an external setting is a must and experienced professionals will know where and what to propose.
The landscape market has been flooded with new products in the last few years and not all that glitters is gold (especially with light fittings – beware)! But certainly there is more choice now and clients can have some lovely features – firepits, wall sconces, outdoor kitchens of all varieties and cooking methods, soft and supple fabrics, decorative tiles.

6. Indoors / Out

The trend of the last decade, and certainly one we champion as a company, is the ‘outdoor room’ – taking the indoors out. We’ve even coined our own phrase – Rooms without Roofs – extending your indoors lifestyle into the garden, in style, form and function.
Flow material detail into the garden. Consider views from your house. Upgrade your doors for stylish Crittall or large sliding back doors. The upturn in open-plan living and lots of glazing on the back of the house mean many clients are left with no choice but to have a lovely garden – viewing the outdoor space 24/7. Good for us! It means real consideration is required. A garden needs to look good all year round. This takes balanced design, the correct material choices and the appropriate advice.

7. Future Proof 

A well-planned garden will consider your requirements for the short and long term. Plan for lighting and irrigation even if you might not be having them initially. It costs £20 to run some pvc conduit under a new patio to future proof for such amenities.
Consider how you and your family and your use of the garden may develop over time. Consider storage for bikes and other kit. Consider whether you will actually have that massive trampoline in your garden in 2 years’ time?

8. Budget and investing in longevity

A good garden costs money. Fact. For all the reasons above, but mostly because outdoors construction needs to be even more involved and thorough than it does inside. Whilst we appreciate the home is likely the first priority, do not skimp on your garden. If you can’t afford to do things properly now, wait until you can.
Engage industry professionals, with experience of the materials at hand and their installation methods. Plan thoroughly. Doing things on the cheap will come back to bite much harder than it does indoors – it won’t take long for wood to warp, water to ingress, tiles to move.

9. Aftercare

Consider maintenance requirements for both plants and materials – everything will weather outside significantly more than it will inside. There is no such thing as a low maintenance garden. It is true that a softer, more plant-oriented natural garden can be the most cost-effective, but this requires lots of maintenance – which is no problem at all if you or a maintenance team will do it. Hard and soft landscaping – raised beds, integrated seating, outdoor kitchens and lighting all need to be sourced and installed to last, and maintained thereafter. And consider regular cleaning of an outdoor room-style garden to be much like your house. You wouldn’t leave that alone for months on end. Consider cleaning weekly like you would your home for the long term results. And be mindful of what ‘garden maintenance’ really is. Anyone can blow leaves or sweep paving. Experienced and expert garden maintenance is a craft and good gardeners are like hen’s teeth!

10. Enjoy the process as well as the finished garden

Building work can be stressful and that includes garden work too. But working with the right company can minimise this stress, and the process can be a really enjoyable one. If you plan in advance, work through a thorough design process, get the right advice and cost everything correctly first time, then you’ll reduce the key stress triggers involved in a build – extras, delays, re-doing work, no show tradespeople – and finish on time and on budget.
It’s never an exact science – suppliers and the great British weather make sure of that – but with the right company, one that values both inspiring design and quality construction, you can get pretty close!





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