Garden plan – first draft

We have engaged Edinburgh based landscape architect Sam McGowan to do the initial garden plans. While we like the DIY approach, mistakes at this stage are long lasting and hard to rectify.

Comparing Sam’s initial draft to our first thoughts, it leaves me in no doubt what a difference a professional makes! Definitely needs some changes, but we love the basic layout.

(PDF version)

Design thoughts

(pdf version)

(numbers refer to garden survey – future layout)

Design Requirements

  • garden design layout showing major features, buildings etc
  • sufficient detail to form basis for positioning major items, earthworks, ground levels etc
  • includes any potential civil works – e.g. drainage, water supplies, electrics etc.
  • general, top level information of what plants where (e.g. class of tree, plant)
  • design should allow for staged development over coming years, with items which should be dealt with soonest highlighted

Garden Uses

  • Dog friendly – completely enclosed at back. Possibility of creating a contained ‘poo area’ would be nice when dogs are being trained! (around 14,20)
  • Compost area of sensible size for garden. (4)
  • Log storage area. Potentially enough storage for us to by logs in bulk for wood burning stoves. Some of this storage area would need to be dry for logs to dry out. (18?)
  • Social area in back garden which maximises available sun and warmth/shelter. (2)
  • Bigger car parking/turning area at front of house, so visitors can easily park/turn and enter at front door. (19)
  • Extend fence from garage to house as part of enclosing back garden. Maintain some kind of access to existing turning area for emergency turning and loading/unloading to back of house/back garden. Gate in fence for easy pedestrian access. (8)
  • Keep gate at far back of garden for occasional parking, garden deliveries and maybe (in the future) a boat. (4,6)
  • BBQ area – for mobile BBQ (e.g. Weber type on wheels). Close enough to house to be sensible for quick cook on less pleasant days… or at back of garden to optimise evening sun? (2? 11?)
  • Area to sit at back in morning for quiet cup of coffee. (11)
  • Area at back for table/chairs, primarily afternoon/evening use (could be same as social area). (2)
  • Easy flow from back lounge into garden (i.e. where current door goes onto decking). Possibly existing decking, possibly extended decking, maybe conservatory and/or covered area in the future. (11)

General Aesthetics & Planning

  • Front garden – low maintenance, minimal weeding etc. Nice year round aesthetic, with seasonal variety. Must be sensibly resistant to deer, rabbits, wind, salt! Banks of lavender, rosemary or similar?
  • Replace existing hedge at front in S corner. Existing hedge is not growing well… in shade of next door’s trees?
  • Possibly replace some lawn with aesthetic/low maintenance ‘not-lawn’ – e.g. thyme carpet, wildflower meadow, machair? Particularly in front garden where lawn gets less use and more visual (though not something that cannot be walked on).
  • Some colour throughout year as far as possible/sensible. Make good use of bulbs (daffodil, crocus… whatever will grow well!).
  • Fragrant plants near house – front/back doors.
  • Use herbs as bedding plants where appropriate.
  • Overall style in keeping with house & architecture, but some modern elements/features/aesthetic OK if it is sympathetic with house.
  • Budget/timing for works – as far as is possible, keep initial spend for setting up the garden ‘framework’ to minimum and allow for moving towards master plan year by year. That said, we don’t want the garden to look incomplete before things are done. For example, if we were having a pond, initially it might be grass/flower bed/wood chip etc before we dig the hole and put in the pond, rather than a large hole waiting to be landscaped/filled.
  • Garden should be easy to keep if we want it in low maintenance mode, but offer scope for more intensive gardening if we have time and are motivated in any given year(s).
  • Sensibly easy to mow lawn (i.e. not lots of small awkward bits of grass, lawn area smaller rather than bigger).
  • Current gravel/slab driveway isn’t in the best of shape and is thoroughly overgrown with weeds. Considering tarmac for all drive area from gate, to front of house, to garage. Open to options which look good and aren’t difficult to keep in good order. (but not particularly fond of gravel for driveway as it gets moved a lot by cars, and is hard to remove snow. gravel elsewhere is fine).

Plants & Trees

  • Nice array of fruit trees – apple, pear, plum, damson. Total number of trees more for aesthetics as even 2 will probably provide more than we can eat.
  • Nice array of fruit bushes – raspberry, bramble, blackcurrant et al. Maybe others in time. Protected from birds.
  • Raised beds which are protected from birds & rabbits. For growing e.g. strawberries, lettuce, leeks, new potatoes, sprouting broccoli, chard etc. What and how much we grow will vary by year.
  • Rhubarb patch.
  • Plants which encourage bees/butterflies. Geranium? Trees which encourage nice birds (i.e. not so many pigeons and seagulls!).
  • No holly or trees with sharp leaves!
  • Annuals – low maintenance/optional… possibly primarily in tubs?
  • Many existing trees have been removed – Cypress hedge, holly tree, plum tree, poplar tree on south wall (it’s not healthy and leaning badly).
  • Local advice says that for non-fruit, non-conifer trees we have choice of ash, rowan, hawthorn. Current garden suggests that poplar and birch do OK, though birch maybe struggles a bit.


  • Without having to maintain a pond year round, some place to encourage frogs & toads would be nice.
  • Deer proof – back garden should as far as possible be deer proof (accepting that if desperate a deer can get over even quite high fences – we don’t want the garden to look like Alcatraz!).

Buildings & Major Features

  • Greenhouse – primarily for tomatoes and getting plants going early in the year. Existing greenhouse probably beyond repair, and keeping it will make tree root removal very difficult. New greenhouse probably of similar size to existing.
  • Cold frames next to greenhouse.
  • Shed – shed for garden tools etc.
  • Storage for BBQ & garden furniture.