Tropical Gardens in temperate climates.
A tropical garden design theme can bring a taste of the exotic into any back yard. To achieve a successful tropical garden you will need to select the best plants providing that magical jungle effect.
Tropical gardens are associated with large, dense, shiny foliage with vibrant colourful blooms. Water is a vital element as naturally tropical regions experience heavy annual rainfall. Creating a tropical looking garden in a temperate climate will rely on implementing a combination of bold foliage, movement, enclosure and colour. As in nature a jungle garden should have varying heights and canopies of plants to stack interest and visual splendour.
Most plants from tropical gardens cannot survive the sub zero conditions of temperate climates. Therefore if you are creating a jungle paradise in North America, Europe or the UK plant selection is essential.
Luckily there are many tropical looking Trees, Palms, shrubs, bamboos, grasses, ferns and other plants which can take cold wet conditions. Many of these are from places with temperate, tropical transitional landmasses. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China and South America are good examples of these.
Hence it is no surprise that most frost hardy palms and tropical lookalikes come from these countries.
There are many temperate garden plants that have such bold colour and architectural foliage they easily compliment tropical gardens. The aim of this article is to set out the main planting types and species of plants for tropical gardens in temperate climates. Or as a simplified climatic example ‘gardens with winter temperatures no lower that minus 10 degrees Celsius.
Climate considerations for tropical garden plants
Regardless of what plants are advised will take sub zero temperatures there are always exceptions. For example if your garden is very exposed to cold winds and damp conditions these can still prove fatal.
Some tropical looking plants are so close to their climatic tolerance in temperate regions one harsh winter can be all it takes. Here in the southern UK about 8 years ago we had record lows of minus 12 which killed many large palms and cordylines in urban gardens.
It is always important to try and analyse your sites microclimates and weather patterns. Many tropical looking plants do not like strong winds and appreciate solar heat traps. Hence tropical gardens in the north USA, UK and Europe are preferable enclosed on all sides with masonry walls. Strong fences are also good but not as successful of absorbing the suns warmth.
As well as exposed hill tops being avoided also very low lying ground is also not suitable. Low areas in temperate climates are usually very damp in winter and susceptible to frost pockets. Cold frosty conditions can spell sudden death to warm loving plants.
Although tropical looking plants don’t like to be too wet in cold winters they still like water in hot dry summers. If your soil is particularly prone to summer droughts you may want to look into irrigating a new tropical garden.
Generally Tropical gardens need soil as close to what is found in nature. This means tropical plants like lots of organic matter mixing in. Also a good thick layer of nitrogen rich mulch can help your tropical plants establish and protect their roots from frost. The best soil for tropical gardens is moist but well drained so try to loosen any compaction and add compost and grid to improve soil structure.
Tropical garden trees
Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus Gunni
Eucalyptus gunni or the cider gum is a type of eucalyptus native to Tasmania. It has been popular in temperate gardens now for many years due to its habit, cold tolerance and decorative features. The bark is smooth with white and grey patches which can create a striking vertical line in tropical gardens. The young leaves of this tree are different from the mature foliage appearing almost completely circular around the young stems.
Indian Bean Tree – Catalpa bignonoides
The Indian Bean Tree actually comes from the southern United States and has become popular in temperate gardens. Its large leaves have made it a popular tree for adding a tropical feel to garden borders. If left unchecked however they can grow quite large so they are best coppiced or pollarded. This actually allows the leaves to grow even larger accentuating its exotic aesthetics.
Fig Tree – Ficus carica
This extremely popular small tree is perfect for tropical gardens in temperate regions. Not only does it fruit the most deliciously sweet fruit it looks almost prehistoric. With dark green fingered leaves this tree can act as a great visual texture to the back of a jungle border. Figs can also be trained into almost any shape you want meaning you can fill and cover any space
Maidenhair Tree – Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an extremely ancient type of tree with fossils of its leaves going back many hundreds of millions of years. Its leaves have a very unusual almost crescent shape making them a focal point. Ginkgos have many unusual chemical compounds which can also be used medicinally. They put on an amazing show in autumn when the foliage turns bright yellow.
Large Leaf Magnolia – Magnolia macrophylla
Large leaf Magnolias are from the south-eastern United States and grow very well in temperate regions. They have extremely large leaves and amazingly huge flowers. These magnolias are very capable of growing in deep shade making them perfect for tightly planted jungle gardens.
Tropical garden palms
New Zealand Cabbage Palm – Cordyline australis
This yucca palm is native to New Zealand and can grow up to 20 metres tall. It has a very architectural form and is very popular in temperate tropical gardens. This yucca is very hardy I have seen some die back due to extremely cold weather and grow back from the base. Cordylines look great and are very easy to grow
Windmill Fan Palm – Trachycarpus fortune
When looking at a large one of these growing in a temperate climate it is easy to be amazed! These very hardy palms would not look out of place in Florida however they handle very cold conditions including snow! This tree is native to Southeast Asia and commonly found in China and Japan. This is a must have tree for a tropical garden but will grow to 20 metres eventually.
Japanese Fiber Banana – Musa basjoo
This rather amazing banana palm also known as the Japanese Banana is incredibly hardy by temperate standards. I have seen these in South facing gardens in the UK creating miniature jungles and reaching 2.5 metres high. The roots of these palms can survive temperatures of -10. This means the palm if killed by frost can re-sprout in a season of good weather. It must be stressed however to keep these standing year after year the palms should be wrapped up every mid autumn. Or they can be kept as large potted conservatory plants during the winter.
European Fan Palm – Chamaerops humilis
This small palm is native to southern Europe and able to take periods of cold and wet weather. Its compact size makes it a good choice for a pot but will do just as well in a sheltered tropical garden border. Just bear in mind this palm does not like shade so a sunny position is best.
Chilean Wine Palm – Jubea Chilensis
The Chilean Wine Palm is a large palm which can take cool temperate temperatures. In cold climates they never grow that large but are perfect for a well drained sunny position in a tropical garden. They have a thick base and striking rigid feathery foliage.
Tropical garden shrubs
Paper Plant – Fatsia Japonica
These evergreen shrubs are perfect for tropical gardens with beautiful, large glossy leaves. These are very tolerant of soil conditions and climate and make great medium story border filler. Every year they produce globe shaped white flowers which look very exotic. These will tolerate most temperate areas of the USA, UK and Europe.
Chinese Holy Grape – Mahonia Lomariifola
This palm like shrub is excellent for small tropical gardens providing rigid vertical stems and sharp jagged foliage. They are native to China and found at high elevations meaning they can take cold wet conditions. This makes them perfect plants for tropical gardens in temperate climates. They have the added benefit of being winter flowering meaning they can brighten up a dull winter’s day.
New Zealand Flax – Phormium tenax
Phormium’s are like exaggerated bulky grasses with a long flat leaves proving a jungle like foliage. The leaves create an explosion of rising and weeping leaves which can be very dramatic in the flower border. The delicate leaves can soften strong edges of hard landscaping features and provide movement on breezy days. They now come in a vibrant array of colours to add drama to jungle borders.
Japanese Camellia – Camellia Japonica
Camellias are truly beautiful shrubs with glossy leaves and very striking flowers. These shrubs originally from Japan are related to the tea plant and require an acidic soil. They have such a glossy neat growing habit they can almost look artificial. Not thought of typically as tropical but its evergreen foliage is perfect for tropical gardens in temperate regions.
Japanese laurel – Aucuba Japonica
Aucuba’s are very similar to laurels but with a smaller growing habit and larger leaves. The foliage has a dark / light green pattern that makes them look rather exotic. They are very tolerant of a wide range of conditions including heavy shade. At the end of summer they grow bright red berries which are very striking.
Tropical garden Bamboos
Heavenly Bamboo – Nandina domestica ‘firepower’
Nandina often thought of as not a typical bamboo is small in size but has dramatic fiery foliage and fruits. This plant which looks like a small shrub can inject drama into any garden bed. Its vibrancy and architectural form makes it perfect for tropical garden plantings.
Black Bamboo – Phyllostachys nigra
This rather tall bamboo can grow to up to 3 metres in height and create a bold statement in the jungle garden. It has relatively thin, long canes which are a very dark black colour which contrasts against it green foliage.
Its delicate form sways in the breeze and its aerodynamic leaves creates rustling sounds on breezy days. This bamboo really provides an exotic feel and much height to the tropical border. However be warned this bamboo can spread and become unruly. Try to retain the roots so it does not spread too far.
Kuma Bamboo grass - Sasa veitchii
This bamboo likes moist dark areas but is generally tolerant in most gardens. It has thin flexible stems and double lobed foliage which works well in the tropical garden
Chinese Fountain Bamboo - Fargesia nitida
If you are looking for a softer les vigorous bamboo for the garden then this is the bamboo for you. There is a good reason it is known as the fountain bamboo its foliage really has a fountain look to it. It has such a dense, fine textured foliage but beware this can also eventually get to two and half metres high. It can also spread but is relatively easy to manage. Its evergreen foliage works so well in small tropical gardens.
Kamuro Zasa - Pleioblastus viridistriatus
This grass like bamboo is very popular in tropical gardens as it is less vigorous as other bamboo varieties. Many have brightly variegated foliage which can create vibrancy and movement. Some can still get very tall some reaching two metres tall. This is very effective in smaller jungle gardens especially to create dense habitat around ponds.
Tropical garden Grasses
Pampas Grass – Cortaderia selloana
This robust grass forms dense clumps up to 2 metres high although there now dwarf varieties. Every late summer these large grasses throw up spear like flower heads with feathery seed heads. Although not typical of tropical gardens it can look effective in large borders.
Spanish Reed – Arundo donax
When looking at this primeval plant it is hard to distinguish if it is a bamboo or a grass! This grass is actually very common across the Mediterranean and looks very striking especially in variegated forms. Its long cane like stems grows very tall and can be the perfect addition jungle gardens. It is very tolerant of cold conditions and is not fussy about soil.
Elephant Grass - Miscanthus Giganteus
This enormous grass is a personal favourite of mine. It has almost a tubular form and bamboo like stems can reach over 4 metres tall. This grass like its name can make you easily image elephants emerging from its towing foliage. One phrase! Fantastic for a tropical garden in temperate climates.
Reed Canary Grass - Phalaris arundinacea
This beautiful grass is a spreading perennial variety which is a fantastic ground cover in the tropical garden. Personally I think it looks better when it is variegated creating an almost white sheen to borders. This grass becomes golden yellow in autumn and winter providing seasonal interest. Its maximum height is about 1 foot or 300 millimetres.
Black Dragon - ophiopogon planiscapus 'nigrescens'
This extremely fascinating and novelty grass is an exceptional addition to any jungle garden. Its low lying broad, black blades almost seem to lie horizontally creating a thick dark ground cover. This dark foliage can create beautiful contrast to more erect green foliage and is great to create ribbons of black through planting beds.
Tropical garden ferns
Golden Male Fern - Dryopteris affinis
The Golden male fern is an upright fern very effective in tropical beds and very tolerant of cool shady conditions.
Common Polypody - Polypodium vulgare
Common polypody is a medium sized fern which can tolerate surprisingly dry conditions. This is great for growing in crevices of rocks, walls or logs. These ferns are perfect for creating the effect of ferns growing over hard landscape features very effective in tropical gardens.
Soft Shield Fern - Polystichum setiferum
The soft shield fern is a native fern to Europe and is very at home in cold damp environments. It has very feathery foliage and not fond of dry conditions.
Harts-Tongue Fern - Asplenium scolopendrium
Harts tongue fern is less commonly glossy opposed to other feathery foliaged ferns. It has erectly pointing foliage which can be very effective in a jungle garden.
Tree Fern – Dicksonia Antarctica
Commonly thought of as some sort of palm this prehistoric looking fern grows in a vertical fashion very much like a tree. Hence the tree fern is extremely popular in tropical gardens. From New Zealand this unique fern can tolerate cool climates but will need some frost protection. Tree ferns will only grow about 1 inch per year meaning it takes a very long time for them to grow to a substantial height. This can make them expensive but they are hugely effective for tropical gardens in temperate climates.
Tropical garden perennials
Hosta Big Daddy - Sieboldiana hybrid
Hostas are generally great for tropical gardens with their large leaves and striking colours. Hosta Big Daddy however is an exceptionally impressive Hosta which can be extremely effective in temperate tropical gardens. Be wary though slugs absolutely love to eat Hostas to nothing. Try to mulch these with a sharp bark chipping of some sort.
Coppertips - Crocosmia Lucifer
Cocosmia are perennial reed like flowers which grow up from bulbs every spring. They have a very tropical feel about and have the most exquisite flowers which are usually bright red. These have a very exotic feel about them and perfect for tropical gardens. They are extremely tolerant of dry and poor soil conditions.
Stone crop - Sedum herbstfreude ‘autumn joy’
Sedums are usually associated with succulents and dry gardens but Sedum Herbstfreude autumn joy has a place in any jungle garden. Its tall succulent leaves have a lush, tropical feel to them and they have impressive blooms in Autumn.
Lady’s Mantle - Alchemilla mollis
Ladies mantle is a hardy perennial with unusual pentagon like leaves and interesting blooms. It is an effective ground colour and although not commonly associated with tropical gardens work very well in such schemes. It is also tolerant of cold, dry conditions and poor soil.
Lily of the Nile - Agapanthus inapertus
Agapanthus is a truly wonderful perennial flowing plant. It grows very similarly to alliums with a central stem and globular blooms which are absolutely stunning. These flowers have an exotic touch but the plants overall form does work well in the tropical garden. The flowering heads will gently sway in the breeze adding much movement to the border.
Tropical garden climbers
Blue Passion Flower - Passiflora caerulea
This taste of the exotic can add real authenticity to a tropical garden. Some varieties are more frost tolerant than others with some surviving temperatures of minus fifteen degrees. It has to be noted however that these are best used in a warm microclimate. I have only seen these fruit once in temperate climates but don’t believe the fruit fully ripened. Either way the flowers are truly the epitome of exotic beauty. Great for the temperate tropical garden but does best growing up a wall.
Persian Ivy - Hedera Colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’
This large leaved ivy is both vigorous and beautiful. Its evergreen striking foliage can act as a fantastic back drop and can be used to screen unsightly areas.
This does work very well in large exotic schemes but please bear in mind it can get out of control. It can grow to be even tree like in its vigour so you may want to consider restricting its roots. It is extremely useful at creating nesting opportunities for birds.
Virginia creeper - Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia creeper has rather attractive five pronged leaves which have a tropical feel about them even though they are extremely hardy. What is most valued about these is their stunning autumn colour made up of intense shades of orange and reds.
Many say it is worth planting simply for this attribute alone but bear in mind it does shed its leaves in winter. Nonetheless this climber has a delicate habit and looks very tropical especially if it is allowed to hang from garden structures or trees.
Evergreen Clematis - Clematis armandii
This has to be a personal favourite of mine and always works well in the tropical garden. This evergreen climber has dark green shiny hanging lobed leaves which almost look camellia like. It can grow to cover large areas but is not aggressive or unruly.
In February it becomes covered with the most exotic looking white flowers with incredible scent. This plant is extremely tolerant of cold conditions and will look fabulous all year round. This is the perfect climber for the temperate tropical garden.
Star jasmine - Trachelospermum jasminoides
This evergreen climbing shrub almost looks like it would not be out of place in the rainforest. Its leathery dark green leaves and delicate habit make it very effective in tropical gardens. It has a typical jasmine flower with four white petals and gives off the most amazing jasmine scent. This is a must if you are planning a tropical garden in the USA, UK or Europe.
Vegetables and edible plants for tropical gardens
Lacinato Kale - Brassica oleracea ‘Lancinato’
Tuscan kale almost has a palm like foliage which can work very well in tropical garden themes. What better way to add annuals to your tropical borders than this nutritious treat.
Globe Artichokes - Cynara scolymus
This beautiful perennial vegetable has such architectural foliage and a striking form that its almost hard to believe it is a vegetable. This fantastic plant can contrast well with the dark greens of a tropical garden and give you a rather tasty treat. Commonly thought of as a Mediterranean plant it does work very well in temperate tropical gardens.
Rhubarb - Rheum rhabarbarum
Rhubarb just naturally has such a tropical look to it with its bright red stems and large Gunnera like leaves. The best irony of this is it can actually tolerate extremely cold temperature. It is a perennial so will die back in winter but rhubarb is very effective in tropical garden schemes.
Rainbow Chard - beta vulgaris subsp. Vulgaris
Chard has thick, colourful stems and large, dark, green leaves making them surprisingly fit into jungle gardens really well. This bi-annual can actually keep growing for up to five years if you cut out the flowering stems. If planted in amongst the other tropical garden plants they can become a novelty feature. They are also very versatile in the kitchen.
Jerusalem artichoke - helianthus tuberosus
The Jerusalem artichoke is actually a perennial type of sunflower with tall stems and bright yellow flowers. They have a reed like growing habit and do have a tropical look to them. They can create a physical barrier in a tropical garden scheme but need to be cut down to the ground every year.
They produce very tasty tubers which can be eaten raw or cooked in soups and stews. Be warned they can spread and are hard to get rid of once planted. These are best planted submerged in a sunken box. They do work surprisingly well in tropical gardens.
Tropical garden plants for the pond
Gunnera - Gunnera manicata
This giant of the plant world is perfect for large ponds and especially the ones in tropical gardens. They have humungous leaves which look like something out of Jurassic park. They love boggy soil but do like a warm, sheltered position.
Bog Bean - Menyanthes trifoliate
This rather common European pond plant is far from a tropical look alike. However its large leaves and ability to form dense clumps works well in the temperate tropical pond. It is also good for aquatic life.
Sweet Flag - Acorus calamus
This reed like flowering plant is a native to Europe and is extremely effective at creating attractive vertical miniature reed beds. This is extremely effective at softening the edges of ponds and is very useful in cold climate tropical gardens. It is also very beneficial to wildlife which adds extra interest to tropical gardens.
White Water Lilly - Nymphaea alba
This very widespread water lilly is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is very rare to find a plant that can thrive in both tropical and temperate regions of the world. Furthermore the White Water Lilly does look rather exotic so it really is a no brainer for the tropical garden pond.
Yellow Flag Iris - Iris pseudacorus
The Yellow Flag Iris is native to Europe and a very beautiful marginal pond plant. Its bold, sharp spear like leaves is perfect to contrast still bodies of fresh water and its yellow blooms are exquisite. This is not a plant usually associated with tropical gardens but in temperate climates it’s perfect for tropical garden ponds.
Creating a tropical garden in temperate climates can be a challenging but rewarding project. One of the biggest allures of these gardens is they usually stay green all year. Jungle gardens look extremely authentic and there are some fantastic examples across the USA, UK and Northern Europe.
The key to creating a successful temperate tropical garden is using the correct plants suitable for colder climates. The aim is not to find tropical plants that will survive colder conditions but to seek plants from colder climates with tropical characteristics. Indeed some of the plants mentioned here are even native to colder climates.
It is the habit, form and aesthetic which makes them suitable and effective for a tropical garden. The plants in this article will give you the perfect starting point for creating the perfect tropical garden in temperate climates.
Thank you for reading our article on 50 plants for tropical gardens in temperate climates. If it helped you in your search why not share it with your friends? If you need landscaping services in Buckinghamshire or neighbouring counties please contact Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners today. We typically service Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Chesham, Great Missenden, and High Wycombe.
Best plants for a wildlife pond
Wildlife ponds are a fantastic way to encourage wildlife to a specific location. Wildlife large and small relies on ponds for drinking, feeding, shelter and completing their lifecycles.
Choosing the best plants for a wildlife pond will attract new wildlife quickly providing essential food and shelter. The best plants for a wildlife pond will depend on its location, design, size and local climate.
Perfect plants for wildlife ponds should be diverse in the ecological sub niches wildlife ponds provide. These are usually defined by the three dimensional void of the pond. These wildlife pond plant niches are typically oxygenators, emergent’s, floating, marginal and bog species. A good combination of these planting types with correct species selection will result in the best plants for your wildlife pond.
Native plants for a wildlife pond
When planning a wildlife pond try to research what freshwater wetland plants are native to your area. Interrelationships of ecological communities can take many thousands of years to evolve. For this reason it is wise to try and adhere to the naturally occurring wildlife species in your area.
Local and native plants can adapt to local conditions rarely needing any extra plant care. There are many published ecological surveys and publications which will describe which species are native to your area. Many specialist pond retailers now have a good knowledge of what wildlife pond plants are native to their location.
Ecological plants for a wildlife pond
Wildlife pond plants do not have to be native. Even though native plants are usually the best to attract wild species some non natives are also good for wildlife. Try to make sure no non native pond plants are invasive and are always bought from a reputable supplier. A good example of ecological versions of native pond plants is waterlillies.
Many European wild species have very small flowers and can become large making them less ideal for garden ponds. Many Asian species are smaller with larger flowers and still can provide benefits to wildlife even though they are not native. There are many naturalised plant species that have many wildlife benefits. Try to find out what plants are optimal for a wildlife pond in your specific country or region.
Wildlife pond design
When seeking the best plants for a wildlife pond it is good to have a pond which has been designed to facilitate the main ecological aquatic niches. A good wildlife pond will have a variation of depths and shelves to accommodate the needs of the aquatic plants. The pond should have a deep centre and very sloping sides to at least one edge.
This not only allows creatures to access the water with ease but also allows warm shallow areas for aquatic insects to lay their eggs. A wildlife pond with a diverse structure of shelves and slopes will be optimum for the best plants to grow and thrive. Why not watch a video of a wildlife pond we built below showing a good wildlife pond example.
For more information on wildlife garden design go to Ecospaces Limiteds Website:
Pond plants can be extremely aggressive in their growing habit. For this reason it is usually advised to plant your pond plants in aquatic pots. These allow the roots to run but prevent the plant from spreading too far from its original planning position. Regardless if you are planting in pots or directly into the bottom of the pond it is important to use the correct substrate.
Never put garden topsoil or anything nutrient rich into your pond. This will encourage algae to bloom starving the water of oxygen and turning it a dark shade of green. Use substrates such as play sand, fine gravels or aquatic compost from an aquatic supplier.
Oxygenating plants grow within the main body of water and usually are rooted in the ponds substrate. They capture sunlight through the water and through photosynthesis produce tiny bubbles. These subsequently oxygenate the water making it more habitable for insects and amphibians.
This oxygenating process also helps clean the water preventing algae blooms and stagnation. Oxygenators are usually long and feathery providing great places for aquatic creatures to lay their eggs.
When planting these to ensure the base of the plants are tied to a heavy stone. This will ensure they easily root in the substrate at the base of the pond. Some of the best Oxygenating plants for a wildlife pond are:
Curled pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
Rigid hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Spiked water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Water crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis)
Emergent plants are usually rooted in the shallow regions of the pond and emerge through the water. These provide an important and functional wildlife habitat. Larvae of flying insects crawl up onto the stems to transform into their new form.
Spiders spin webs above the ponds surface to capture flying insects. Emergent plants provide a transitional zone between the water’s surface and dry land. These transitional zones or ecotones are very important for all sorts of wildlife. Below are some of the best emergent plants for a wildlife pond:
Small sweet grass (Glyceria fluitans)
Branched bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)
Yellow flag Iris (Iris pseudocorus)
Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)
Greater spearwort (Ranunculus lingua)
Greater pond sedge (Carex riparia)
Floating plants can either be plants which independently float on the surface or whose leaves that float on the surface. Water lilies for example are rooted in the bottom but leaves create a floating canopy.
Floating plants provide shady areas in oven water and can provide egg laying opportunities for wildlife. Floating plants are also commonly fed upon by many aquatic species. Some of the best floating plants for a wildlife pond are:
Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
Amphibious bistort (Polyginum amphibium)
Yellow Water Lilly (Nuphar lutea)
Broad-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton natans)
Marginal plants live around the margins of wildlife ponds. Some live continuously under shallow water and some can take periods of drying out.
Marginal plants consist of aquatic herbs, grasses and herbaceous, perennials. Marginal plants can provide optimal food and shelter for a wildlife pond. Some of the best marginal plants for a wildlife pond are:
Lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula)
Water speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica)
Water forget-me-not (Myositis scorpioides)
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
Water mint (Mentha aquatica)
Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
Bog plants or marsh plants grow in the moist ground around a pond. These can vary in size and shape and provide a great habitat for many species of wildlife. Densely growing boggy areas around a pond provides security and cover for wildlife living near the pond or coming to drink. Some of the best bog plants for a wildlife pond are:
Pendulous sedge (Carex pendula)
Marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)
Pendulous sedge (Carex pendula)
Marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris)
Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis)
Adjacent flower borders
As important as wetland plants are plants in the surrounding areas and flower beds are also very important to the success of a wildlife pond.
Adjacent flower borders can provide nooks and crannies as well as rock piles and rotting logs. These can provide nesting opportunities for small mammals and places to hide for invertebrates.
There are many other conventional garden plants which can attract wildlife for a number of reasons. Some provide nuts and berries, some provide nectar and some have dense foliage so wildlife can hide. Below are some of the best plants for adjacent flower borders to a wildlife garden:
Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii)
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
Comfrey (Symphytum × uplandicum)
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Cotoneaster (cotoneaster c. Horizontalis)
Herbs good for wildlife ponds
Usually thought of as plants to add to cooking, herbs have extremely high value to wildlife. Usually preferring dryer conditions herbs can be planted in containers, raised beds or mounded ground next to wildlife ponds.
Many herbs have aromas and flower blooms extremely attractive to beneficial insects to the garden. As well as providing culinary delights for us they can act as a habitat booster to your wildlife garden. Here are the best herbs for nearby a wildlife pond:
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Mint (Mentha spicata)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Plants to avoid in your pond
There are many plants that may not be suitable for your wildlife pond. First of all it is important to recognise aquatic plants can be very vigorous. If you have a very small wildlife pond it may be good to research each species specifically on how aggressive they are. Even though a plant may be native to your area it may not be suitable for a smaller pond.
There are many plants that were commonly sold for ponds but have now become a nuisance in the countryside. Some of these have outcompeted native species and have subsequently been banned from being sold.
Some native pond plants have been sourced from other countries meaning they may vary from local stock. This can have an impact on if they are suitable for your local wildlife. Always ask advice from a local native wetland plant specialist for the best information. Some of the typical plants to avoid in your wildlife pond are:
Floating water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora)
Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
Parrots feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
Australian swamp stone-crop (Crassula helmsii)
Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)
Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major)
Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis)
Nuttall's pondweed (Elodea nuttallii)
Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
Many believe the best course of action for wildlife is to leave it to its all devices. However when it comes to garden wildlife ponds some light management is needed. Pond plants can be extremely vigorous and some can become out of control very quickly.
When your wildlife pond is first created go through a monitoring period to make sure no plants get out of control. This is especially important as other plants are establishing. Try to trim out access growth every other to make sure it does not become choked with foliage.
Any removed vegetation should be left by the ponds side to allow trapped creatures to escape back into the water.
Thank you for reading our article on the best plants for wildlife ponds! If this article helped with your search why not share it with your friends?
If you require a landscape gardener or landscaping work completed and live within Buckinghamshire or the Chilterns feel free to contact us via our contact page.
Our services include patios, paving, driveways, garden make overs, clearances, fencing, turfing, garden design, and general landscaping work.
We typically service the towns of Great Missenden, Aylesbury, Amersham, High Wycombe,, Princes Risborough, Berkhamsted and Beaconsfield.
What is the best landscaping for rental properties?
Running a successful rental property operation usually means balancing a multitude of factors, challenges and expenses. This means landscaping becoming somewhat of an afterthought when preparing a new home for tenants.
Cost is always an issue when trying to run a business but landscaping should never be underestimated in dictating what quality of tenant you attract and how they treat your investment. If your rental property has an outside space what is the best way to landscape it for minimum cost, effort and maintenance?
The answer to this equation really is a balancing act of factors which will be laid out here in our ‘best landscaping for rental properties here.
The landlord’s dilemma
Renting is becoming an ever increasing necessity for newer generations. The more senior in society have flocked to property rental incomes to secure a more comfortable retirement. This has intern pushed up values and mostly shut younger generations out of ownership. This combined with high costs of living and ever less secure employment has led to an unpredictable turnover of renters.
As many of us have had to learn the hard way people do not respect others property as much as they do their own. This has made the landlord sector rather messy when it comes to providing good quality accommodation. Having said this there are a percentage of good quality renters out there that will respect a good quality home and take pride in it as if it were their own.
I know this for a fact as my wife and I were good tenants for years actually improving all of the properties we lived in. The question is how do you attract the correct type of tenants and how much of a roll can landscaping play in such.
Attracting good tenants
If your rental property has a garden most of the time it will be a family sized house or flat. Families are much more likely to maintain and look after a garden than if a home is split up into separate smaller dwellings. In these cases a high turnover of tenants means gardens can be filled with old furniture and rubbish very quickly.
The responsibility of grass mowing and weeding is so divided gardening duties is rarely taken on by anyone. In these scenarios a blanket approach to landscaping can be the only option. Gravels, hard surfaces, artificial grass and even concrete may be the only approach.
Bear in mind that you will only attract good quality tenants if you provide a high calibre property with an aesthetically pleasing landscape scheme.
This also justifies higher rents which intern means better occupants. Although landscaping for landlords has to be cost effective. Studies have shown that the ‘majority’ of people respect a beautiful environment more than they do a neglected one. During the 1990’s a serious effort was made to reduce crime in the city of New York. Psychologists working with the mayor implemented the ‘Broken window’ strategy with rather astonishing results.
The Broken Window Strategy
Money was invested in cleaning up dangerous neighbourhoods in the city and money was invested in landscaping and environmental improvement. Windows were fixed, streets were cleaned and graffiti was removed.
Over the next few years crime and unsociable behaviour plummeted by 40%. Many have pointed out this strategy was not the only reason for crime dropping in the city. However a series of smaller experiments confirmed that a higher quality landscape encourages good behaviour and care from local residents.
This can further be seen in the comparison of vandalism levels in Britain’s public parks compared to France. Most inner city parks in Paris display a high level of horticultural prowess and exquisite landscaping fit for most royal gardens.
Even though these gardens are open to the public anti social behaviour and vandalism is exceptionally rare. Compare this to most London parks which are very simplistic with out of date facilities which do have high levels of vandalism.
As a landlord you should not be expected to spend tens of thousands on the garden but with good planning you can get the best of all worlds. A well conceived landscape scheme can enhance your properties value, improve the quality of tenants, command higher rents and command a better respect for your property investment.
Inspire tenants to start gardening
If you provide a beautiful garden environment and carefully select your tenants renters can end up voluntarily taking up gardening. The power of suggestion can be overwhelming when planning a garden as a landlord.
Providing a greenhouse with pots soil and seeds leads to a high chance of gardening activities during warm weather. A garden with raised vegetable plots especially with young families will all most certainly be appreciated.
For sure a garden with seasonal interest including flowers and foliage will command a sense of duty to keep it in good condition. Your tenants may not become enthusiastic gardeners but by getting your tenants to love your garden can be the difference between nurturing or neglect.
Add a designer’s touch
Most of the time very cost effective, small landscaping installations can be the difference between a great garden and an ordinary one. Focal points can be added or painting sheds and fence posts to give the garden some flair.
Sometimes implementing a thematic narrative by using similar colours and materials throughout the garden can give it a designed look. For inspiration take photos of the existing garden and overlay tracing paper for sketching in elements.
Look at online images and garden magazines for inspirations! The internet is full of money saving and very effective landscaping ideas to give your garden the designers touch.
Beware of the low maintenance trap
One of the greatest mistakes I see is implementing a ‘low maintenance garden’ and assuming this will be ‘no work’. This is a falsity!
No matter what garden design you go for there will always be some maintenance involved. I have seen many artificial lawns covered in weeds and many gravel gardens full of weeds also. When planning in low maintenance features bare this in mind.
Gravels and bark mulch can be low maintenance but a heavy duty membrane is needed with a deep substrate. Artificial lawns are effective if they are not built cheaply with little base work underneath. Dirt and organic debris will build up on the surface after a few years giving small seedlings the nutrients to grow.
Artificial lawns should be brushed off every winter with a stiff brush and water jet. There are many low maintenance, landscaping options for landlords but remember no garden is zero maintenance. The best landscaping for rental properties realises this fact.
Artificial lawn has become better and better quality in recent years and is now a very popular garden installation. There is no doubt that a lawn that never needs to be cut is a very desirable thing. Artificial lawn is usually more expensive to install than many realise. When obtaining quotations from a landscaping contractor beware! Cheapest is not always best.
Artificial lawns if installed properly will give you an effective low maintenance option for decades. Problems can arise when contactors ‘do the work on the cheap’ not digging out to the correct depth and installing the correct sub-base. Landscapers should install at least 4 inches of compacted base underneath the lawn. Ask contractors to specify on the quotation what construction methods and specification will be used.
Not all artificial lawns are created equal! There is a wide range of quality options to choose from. These can vary from luxury ranges you would love to walk bare foot on or less expensive brush like astro-turf. Try to make sure any contractor gives you samples or provides you with the manufacturer’s specification including any guarantees.
There are some potential hazards when applying artificial grass to rental properties. One thing you must consider is they will melt and burn if exposed to fire. This goes for barbecues, cigarette butts and fire pits.
You can never be sure who your tenants will invite around and what they will be getting up too. For this reason make sure you have other areas of hard standing and make it clear no smoking, barbecues or fires will be within range of the lawn.
With good installation and planning away potential fire hazards artificial lawns can be a very good land lord friendly material. Just remember a good quality one is not cheap. Some of the best landscaping for rental properties utilise this low maintenance material.
No one can deny a traditional living lawn is a popular option when landscaping a new garden space. They produce colour and a surface which can host a multitude of varying activities. For many however living lawns are a headache with their continuous cutting regime which persists throughout the growing season.
In my personal opinion living lawns are not as high maintenance as many people think. Although there is work to be done mowing is much straight forward than weeding between paving stones or pruning large shrubs.
A living lawn will give the tenant some sense of constant responsibility for the garden. Mowing the lawn is a standard criteria of most tenant contracts. As long as you provide a basic mower most of the time lawns will be kept in good shape by most tenants.
Most renters will expect there to be some lawn space in any property with a garden so bear this in mind. Living lawn is also relatively cheap to install so there is a good reason this surface has lasted the test of time.
I personally feel paving is one of the best surfaces for any garden and especially for rental properties. Paving is functional as well as attractive and more importantly pretty much indestructible as far as landscaping goes.
It is also expensive and most of the time paving a whole garden is going to be costly. To limit the possibility of weeding joints make sure contractors build paving on at least a 4 inch base layer, lay on a consistent mortar bed and joint with a strong pointing mix.
Paving can create perfect patio spaces for your tenants to make more use out of the garden with pretty much zero maintenance. When choosing paving materials try to go for natural stone, these will not fade in sunlight like concrete based paving.
Also for rental properties it is advised you choose darker tones with colour variations. This means there is less chance of staining from liquid spillages such as red wine and coffee. Please note that sealants are not always 100 % effective against stains from very light coloured paving.
Decking is a popular landscaping installation coming in a wide variety of styles, materials shapes and sizes. It is usually thought of as a quick and more affordable option than paving which is on the whole true.
The main advantage with decking is varying levels and heights can be bridged without expensive and substantial masonry walls with large foundations. This can reduce costs and provide a quicker remedy to difficult sites. Decking can also help to cover over problematic areas with not much clearance and digging.
One of the main draw backs with decking however timber is will always degrade. Standard soft wood decking does well if it lasts 15 years which sounds a long time but not in landscaping.
A well built patio will last 3 times that time so you have to think of value for money when landscaping for rental properties. If after 10 years you have rotten boards and someone falls through you could have a head ache on your hands. Standard decking can last much longer with regular oiling and treatment but it is hard to find tenants that will keep this up.
There are hard wood decks and now composite decks which claim to last as long as paving but I am generally sceptical about this. Even with these materials the joisting work is nearly always standard timber which will still degrade. I have found no matter what decking you go for they can also end up slippery once algae and wet conditions set in.
Composite decks as well as soft wood and hard woods are also vulnerable to fire. Be sure your tenants are non smokers and there is a separate area for barbecues or fire pits.
Gravel can be a very effective landscaping solution for landlords and tenants alike. If installed properly gravel areas can be extremely low maintenance and help create warm micro climates on sunny days.
Certain garden styles such as Mediterranean themed gardens and dry gardens work well with gravel. If you really do not want lawn gravel gardens can be the best landscaping for rental properties. If you wish to landscape with gravel make sure all perennial weeds are removed or sprayed before applying the weed membrane.
Make sure that weed membranes are robust but let rain water pass through. Membranes should be overlapped and pinned down before gravels are spread. Do not scrimp on the amount of gravel applied to the surface.
You must ensure that you at least spread a 50 millimetre layer of gravel to the surface to ensure no weed growth. When selecting gravel go for a ‘non absorbent’ grade material, this will prevent algae penetrating the aggregate and turning the colour green or black.
One of the main hazards with gravel is very young children. Especially babies and toddlers can pick up small stones and put them in their mouth. This may be something to consider when planning a gravel garden and the type of renters you will be renting to.
Bark mulch is not thought of as a conventional garden surface to rival lawns or patios but they can be. Commonly thought of as a surface for play areas and planting beds it can become a main theme of a garden.
This is especially possible if you are shaded out by close by large trees. The shade and root dominance of nearby trees can mean very few weeds can establish. These dry shady conditions are a good opportunity for ‘woodland gardens’ or fruit orchards. In addition to this bark mulch can lay the foundation for a well thought out established planting scheme.
Bark mulch when laid on a robust weed resistant membrane can allow you to ‘spot plant’ by cutting planting holes in the membrane. This gives you flexibility and a hard wearing surface which is cheap and quick to install.
For the landlord this can be an option but be warned bark mulch areas will have to be topped up every few years and as bark degrades there is more chance of weeds taking hold. I would say for dry shady areas bark mulch can be a very effective option.
Garden borders are not the first thing landlords think about when landscaping a rental property. Borders however do have a place in rental properties. For a start they make mowing easier by providing an edge to lawns. Lawns which run all the way to the boundary fence are usually a hassle forcing you to strim.
Gardens with beautiful flower borders full of interesting plants are more likely to be maintained. This goes for lawns and other landscaping features. If adding a border to your rental property plant slow growing plants that will not get out of control. Make sure borders are well bark mulched with a robust weed membrane underneath.
Raised garden beds
Raised beds can be a fantastic way to incorporate some defined growing areas within your garden. The good thing about raised beds is they can also provide seating as well as planting spaces. This can be very useful in small, narrow gardens or surrounding patio areas. Raised vegetable beds with bare soil can also inspire your tenants to try gardening which can lead to a better kept garden.
Although planting instantly gives an impression of a high maintenance garden it doesn’t have to be. There are many slow growing and delicate plants which can need very little input. Small coniferous ground cover shrubs like Juniperus Horizontalis ‘Blue Chip’ can provide ground cover and year round greenery.
Bulbs can create seasonal interest in summer, autumn and winter with next to no input at all. There are many plants which come up for a small amount of time and die back in winter. By staying away from large aggressive shrubs you can have planting which takes care of itself and looks good. Planting can and will bring life and excitement to the property. This will in turn command a higher respect and love from the tenants.
If careful selection of tree species is taken they can make a rental property even less maintenance. Small rootstock and dwarf trees can reach a climax growth quickly resulting in no pruning or after care. Trees will usually dominate the ground around them preventing weeds from taking hold.
Small fruit trees like figs, almonds and pears will also make a tasty treat for your tenants. Bark chipping, orchard areas with a robust weed membrane can be very low maintenance. These can also be incorporated into play areas and woodland seating areas even wildlife areas.
These kind of small tree plantings can also reduce the heat island effect in summer and help to insulate from cold winds in winter.If considering planting trees make sure they are small and find out there maximum size when fully mature.
Shrubs are usually the sticking point for most gardens requiring lower maintenance regimes. They commonly slowly get larger and larger every season until you are left with a huge mass of foliage. Shrubs can easily get out of control especially in rental properties requiring regular trimming. Most of the time landlords are forced to cut shrubs into squares and circles which look ordinarily boring.
The best approach with shrubs is going for slow growing and ones that maintain their form. Architectural plants like Fatsia Japonica and Mahonia’s maintain their form without the constant need for continuous pruning. Try to stay away from plants with long spikes such as Yucca Gloriosa which can be sharp to eyes and skin.
Climbers are a great way to add some vertical foliage, screen unsightly areas and decorate garden structures. In rental properties they can be a low maintenance way of incorporating colour and scent to the garden.
Climbers like Clematis, Roses and Jasmines are not too vigorous and are very easy to maintain. Landlords should try to stay away from large aggressive climbers however like Russian vine and Boston Ivy.
Perennials are plants which come up every year, flower and die back for the winter time. These can be extremely effective in creating that seasonal interest every growing season. These once established are very low maintenance and do not command much care at all.
These can be perfect for rental properties with spring summer and autumn interest which barely any input. Perennials such as Lilies, Hollyhocks and hellebores are perfect example of these ideal landscaping for rental properties.
Annuals are herbaceous plants which grow from seed every spring, flower, set their seed and die in the autumn. In gardens these are usually bought as bedding plants. Room is usually left at the front of flower beds so these can be planted after the last frosts.
These are not always perfect soft landscaping for rental properties but they are high impact! These are especially valuable if you want to make tenants fall in love with your garden! This could be for viewings or for existing renters at the property. A broad array of annual flowering colour and scent will make your occupants love, nurture and appreciate your garden.
No matter what planting you go for in your rental property it is always a good idea to apply a generous layer of mulch. This is the key to having successful planting beds in rental accommodation.
The mulch will colour contract well with the plants, keep the underlying soil healthy and prevent weeds from taking hold. You may also benefit from a robust weed membrane between plantings. For more information about how to create a garden border see our article on the subject here.
Many landlords roll their eyes when it comes to their properties back garden space. Typically overgrown with accumulations of unwanted property they can be a thorn in the side of a business investment.
The key to successful landscaping for rental properties is creating well built defined areas which are functional and beautiful. The more appealing your garden space the more likely it is to be used and valued.
With careful planning of low maintenance features, functional facilities and aesthetic design this is easily achieved! The more beautiful and interactive gardens are the more likely it is they will be loved and cherished. This will be your ticket to high quality tenants which will take care of your investment for you!
We hope you enjoyed reading our article on best landscaping for rental properties. If it helped with your search why not pin it or share it with your friends. If you need landscaping services whether it be garden construction or landscape design please do not hesitate to contact Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners today.
Our Landscape services cover Buckinghamshire as well as Bedfordshire, Berkshire Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and West London. Our immediate, local landscape services cover: Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Chesham, Great Missenden, Princes Risborough, and High Wycombe,
How to make a garden border
Garden borders are a great way to bring colour and vibrancy into your garden. With thousands of varying styles and planting effects making a new garden border can be an exciting process.
Typically today many gardens are covered with lawn or paved over to save time. Many people are not confident enough to try a little gardening to make their gardens more naturalistic and interesting. Making even a small garden border can be the difference between an amazing outside space or a boring lifeless desert.
Although making a new border or flower bed is easy in principle there are a few things to consider when getting started. This article will explain how to make a garden border perfect for any garden in any circumstance.
Making a garden border from hard standing
If your existing garden has areas of hard standing which you wish to be turned into a new border some demolition will be needed. Hard standing is any external surface which is too hard to be removed without breaking equipment. Paving, concrete and tarmac are the most common forms of garden hard standing.
In all cases the top layer and underlying hard core must be fully removed until you reach the subsoil. The subsoil should then be turned over and broken up to allow sufficient drainage to the border. You must have made provision for the waste material to be disposed of usually in a cartable skip.
In some cases the hard standing may be thin enough to break out with basic hand tools such as a sledge hammer, iron bar or even a robust spade. In most cases however an electric or hydraulic breaker is needed to fracture the hard standing especially if it is concrete.
With thick layers of tarmac and concrete a 12 inch grinder can cut out the shape of the new border before you break out. Always ensure you never work alone with heavy power tools and you always read the safety instructions before commencing work. Never use electric power tools in wet weather.
Making a garden border from lawn
Creating a garden border from lawn is a much more straight forward process as long as the underlying ground is not too shallow in top soil. Typically the shape of the new bed is marked out and the top few inches cut with a half moon edging spade. The turf can then be neatly scraped off the border area and disposed of.
If you are lucky you have an adequate depth of suitable topsoil which will be deep enough for planting new plants. The hard subsoil should be excavated to make way for new topsoil loam to be filled in afterwards. The ground should be turned over and worked to a fine texture ready for planting.
Soil which has been under turf for many years commonly is very low in fertility and nutrients. The constant cutting and compaction makes lawns rather low quality for growing plants. This means you will need to add a certain amount of soil amelioration in the form of fertiliser. If the ground is heavy and lacks drainage some course sand or course grit can be added.
With borders made from lawn areas it is good to install a new edge or mowing strip. This will stop the lawn grass from spreading into the new border and help maintain a neat and robust boundary to the lawn. Lawn edging is best installed flush with the turf level for convenient mowing without the need for a strimmer.
Choosing a shape for the border
When making a new garden border it is always good experiment with varying shapes and sizes before digging. This can be done by sketching over images of your garden, computer software or simply experimenting with shapes using a hose pipe.
This will give you the opportunity to experience the effect of the new bed before you commit to any heavy work. Sometimes getting ideas by looking at images in magazines or online can be great research to finding the effect you want.
When planning a new border think about the types of plantings you visualise growing. If it is a wild flower cottage garden bed perhaps sweeping curves are a good shape.
If the garden style you envisage is more contemporary perhaps strong lines and angular forms are best. Whatever style or shape you choose, experiment this is the fun part of garden planning! Creating a new garden border can be a fulfilling and enjoyable process.
Edging your new garden border
When creating a new garden border it is common to want it to have a clean and defined edge. This is especially important when marrying up next to lawn. In such a case an edging of some sort will prevent grass encroaching into the soil of the bed.
Edgings can be made from many materials including paving, brickwork, timber or aluminium. If a new border is next to a lawn it is good to have the edging level with the lawn surface for easy mowing. This is why edgings at lawn level are often referred to as mowing strips.
Improving your garden borders soil
Most of the time existing ground if it’s lawn or hard standing will be compacted with a low level of fertility. It is vital that the existing ground is turned over and all rubble and large stones are removed to improve drainage.
If the existing area is hard standing it will be important to supply some new topsoil to build up a workable and fertile soil. Most landscape suppliers can advise you on the best option for you within their range. Most suppliers can deliver large amounts of soil in jumbo bags or loose for even larger loads.
To quantify how much soil you need times the surface area by the depth in millimetres. This will give you a cubic metre quantity. With soil 1 cubic metres is usually equal to 1.6 tonnes very often people are surprised just how much material can be generated from a seemingly small excavation. When digging also bear in mind soil bulks up by 30%. The best soil for growing healthy plants is a compost rich loam soil with a free draining structure.
To improve your garden soil to its maximum potential try to get an idea of what the local soil conditions are in your area. For example if your garden is usually damp and boggy you may want to add some sand or grit to help it drain better. If your existing soil is heavy and clay add more organic material to help break up the soil.
It also may be worth obtaining a soil PH testing kit to discover if the existing soil is acidic or alkali. The perfect ph for most garden plants is about ph 6-7 or neutral. Kits are available from most garden retailers. To adjust the ph of the new garden border chalk or lime will raise the ph and ericaceous compost can lower it. Regular turning and rotovating will keep your soil aerated, workable and free draining.
Raised garden borders
One good way of ensuring a good depth of good quality soil in your border is to build a raised one. Raised garden beds are very popular allowing you to bring your planting schemes to eye level and ensure good drainage.
Raised garden beds are also very suitable for growing vegetables and plants that require a deep rich growing medium. The two most common ways of building raised garden borders is with external grade timber or some form of masonry, usually bricks.
If building with timber it is recommended to use timber with a minimum of 3 inches thickness. It is common to try and build beds with standard 6x2 timber but bear in mind from personal experience this will rot through in about ten years. It is best to build raised beds with heavy duty timber sleepers. These are usually 10 x 5 inches and can be bolted to 4x4 posts concreted into the ground for extra stability.
If building with masonry it is important to install a robust concrete foundation for the brick work to sit upon. This will prevent cracking and movement later on. Brickwork should be built with a double thickness above 1 foot or 300mm. This extra thickness is vital to support heavy loads of wet soil.
These raised beds should have weep holes at the base to help excess water to escape. Masonry raised beds can be rendered and painted and can bled to any style or theme. Although this type of raised bed is more robust than timber they are more work and usually more expensive than timber construction.
Drainage for a new garden border
Depending on what type of plants you wish to grow you may need to consider the drainage of your garden bed. Most plants prefer good drainage but you don’t want the soil so well drained that plants dry out in summer.
The best solution for this is working on your soil. A clay loam with plenty of organic matter is the best soil type for drainage and moisture retention. When creating a new garden border try to dig down as deep as you can and turn the soil over to relieve compaction and allow water to permeate the ground. This combined with good quality topsoil will allow your new bed to have great drainage.
Irrigating your garden border
When creating your new garden border or bed you may or may not wish to install irrigation. If you have a particularly dry garden or raised garden bed you may wish to install irrigation unless you wish to grow dry loving plants. For a perfect growing medium soil should be slightly damp to the touch about 2 inches under the soil. If you are not prepared to regularly water your new garden border in hot dry weather you may want to install an automated for of drip feed irrigation.
Orientation and Micro-climate
When selecting your new garden borders position it is always important to contemplate the type of effect you want. This means considering what types of plants you wish to grow.
To make your choice as broad as possible a sheltered and sunny position is best. If you wish to grow exotic plants and summer flowering plants areas that warm up in the sun are best. This can include south facing walls and heavily sheltered sunny borders.
If you need to create your border in a shady, open, boggy or dry area don’t panic! There is plenty of good information on the best plants for these sorts of conditions also. With a little research you can still find the perfect planting effects for any beds orientation or microclimate.
Choosing plants for your garden border
Most of the time people have an idea of the type of plants and blooms they want in their new garden border. Even if your borders soil and orientation is not perfect for the plants you have in mind there will always be a substitute. Below are some of the considerations you may want to take into account when choosing plants for your border.
The theme of your garden will determine the type of planting and even shape of your new border. If you are going for an exotic jungle theme organic curvy borders are very suitable. If you have a modern scheme angular and straight lines are a more common choice.
Foliage or the leaves of the plants you plant have a huge impact on the effect your border will give. Foliage can provide visual textures colours sound and movement. Also seasonal variation can make dramatic impacts by paying attention to your plants foliage.
There are many ways to utilise colour in your new garden border. Plants can be planted which change colour seasonally. This can include flowering and foliage. Raised beds and fences can be painted to create a colourful backdrop to your garden beds. Some research will soon find you the plants that will display your favourite colours in the garden for yers to come.
All year interest
When planning a planting scheme for your border it is good to consider what the bed will look like all year round. A combination of seasonal blooms, foliage, evergreens, bulbs, climber’s perennials and annuals can make your borders look amazing all year round. Study books on planting design to get the best seasonal effects for your garden.
Mulching your border
A great way to keep your garden border weed free and retain as much moisture as possible is to mulch. Mulching is adding decomposing organic matter such as bark chippings to create a moist soil cover. There are many advantages to mulching including helping to feed microscopic soil life.
This can keep your plants healthy and stop aggressive weeds from taking hold. There are many different mulching materials to choose from including simple solutions such as leaf mulch and even grass clippings.
Enjoying your new garden border.
Making a new garden border like any form of gardening is not an exact science. There is much to consider and much information to digest to get things right first time. Having said this, the joy of gardening is learning and experiencing through trial and error. If you are planning a new garden border the most important thing is you get started! Do your research but most importantly get out there and just go for it! Good luck!
We hope you have enjoyed our article on how to make a garden border. If you enjoyed the article and helped your research why not share it with your friends.
Raised garden beds can be an interesting and functional way to grow things in the garden. These are relatively easy to build and maintain. What is great about garden beds is they allow you to grow plants well even if your soil is bad quality or too shallow.
Raised beds allow you to choose what type of soil you grow in giving you a wider choice of planting types. Not only can raised beds provide you with great growing opportunities they can also add height and elevation to your garden. Below we have laid out all the things you should consider on how to build garden raised beds.
Benefits of raised beds
Raised beds allow you to bring the soil surface closer to our preferable working height. This stops us having to bend so low down all the time making gardening easier. For this reason raised beds are great for people with lower back pain and are great for gardeners who are in wheelchairs. Raised beds reduce bending and kneeling putting less wear and tear of your back and knees.
The soil of raised beds is commonly much better quality and less compressed than normal soil. This makes it much easier to pull out deep rooted weeds and hoe off weed seedlings. Having beds raised off the ground means they are much less likely to be exposed to settling weed seeds. Seeds blown in on the wind have less chance of settling on raised beds than the lower ground.
Raised beds can actually aid you to prolong the growing season. Being raised up and well drained means plants are less likely to be exposed to frosts. Raised beds are easy to cover with transparent plastic making miniature greenhouses out of raised growing areas. The soil in raised beds can be worked quicker and easier in spring meaning you can get plants planted out sooner.
Raised beds give you much more choice when it comes to choosing soil types. If you wish to vegetables a compost rich loam is perfect. Raised beds allow you to grow in better quality soil and at a greater growing depth meaning more robust plants.
Raised planters give you much more defined growing spaces in the garden. This is great for keeping an orderly garden structure and keeping beds well managed. For this reason raised beds are perfect for smaller gardens where space is at a premium. Raised beds have a deeper, well drained humus rich soil leading to much healthier plants.
Although raised beds can allow you the ability to grow plants anywhere it is advised the ground below at least drains well. If built on top of concrete it is advised to break out holes so there is still drainage at the bottom of the bed.
If built on soil the underlying earth should be turned over to blend with the new soil substrate. If your raised bed is on a roof top or balcony a system to retain water within the bed is advised.
This is unless you are in a very warm climate and growing cacti. It is good to place your raised beds in a place where there is not much exposure to strong winds.
Tender plants especially grow better in sheltered conditions so be aware of this when siting a raised bed. It is always best to choose a sunny position for your raised beds and building them in a place which is easy to access. Your beds will need to be maintained so having them close to the home or near a work shed is beneficial.
Raised garden beds can become a fantastic design feature in any garden or landscaping scheme. Most of the time many garden spaces have excessive horizontal spaces but lack it vertical features. Raised beds allow you to add vertical structure to a garden space. This can help break up monotonous areas and provide more spatial variation. Planted correctly raised beds can give the impression of plants being taller than they are. This is perfect for providing enclosure or enhancing decorative foliage like in jungle gardens.
Raised beds can be built using a wide variety of materials. The main examples of these are Concrete, brickwork, stone timber or plastic. There is no best material for raised beds but it is important you used the correct specification grade for whatever material you choose to use. For example, due to raised beds containing large volumes of heavy material flimsy materials should be avoided.
Timber is a strong, versatile and flexible material perfect for building raised garden beds. It must be stressed however that the correct type and thickness of timber is used. One of the biggest drawbacks of building raised beds with timber is the fact it can rot in damp outside conditions. This is especially in the case of softwoods such as pine.
Softer timbers can be used but they must be treated to become external grade timber. These can be dip or pressure treated. The other option is to use harder, tougher grades of timber such as oak or tropical hardwoods but these can be expensive. With timber the best way to build robust and attractive raised garden beds is with timber sleepers. Commonly recognisable as railway sleepers these large and robust sections of timber are thick enough to resist any ware and tear.
Timber sleepers can be old reclaimed sleepers or you can buy new ones. The usually come in 2.4 – 3 metre lengths and have thicknesses of 4-5 inches. On the upside there are anywhere from 8-10 inches thick. Timber sleepers are robust enough to take the weight of heavy, wet soil. It is best to fix sleepers to concreted 4x4 inch posts for extra strength and durability. Such raised beds can be clad with expensive tropical hardwoods for an extra modern effect.
Plastic is not the most ideal solution for building raised garden beds as it is usually flimsy and degrades in sunlight. There are however now many, heavy duty, plastic deck boards on the market that can make great raised beds. If you are planning on making beds with these try to use the plastic as cladding rather than a structural element. Beds can be built using external grade timber and UV resistant plastic deck boards can be fixed on directly. These types of raised beds can be extremely effective it the beds match the materials used on horizontal decking.
Concrete is an extremely robust and versatile material and can be used to make effective raised garden beds. The benefit of concrete is it allows you to build to almost any shape or form. It does however take quite some skill to build with effectively and correctly. Concrete raised beds are rather heavy and permanent so you have to be sure about the final bed location.
Concrete raised beds due to their weight will also need some infrastructure under the ground in the form of a foundation. There are two main ways of building raised beds with concrete. Concrete block work or in-situ concrete forming.
The concrete block method involves laying concrete clocks on a concrete foundation and then either rendered cladded or painted. This usually involves digging out a foundation and filling it level with ready mix concrete.
The concrete forming method involves using formwork and shuttering to create a mould for wet concrete to be poured into. This method is ideal for creating raised beds which are curved or intricately shaped but does require much skill and preparation. Either way concrete can make very robust, raised garden beds which can be cladded or coloured in any style and will last the test of time.
Stonework and masonry can be an extremely aesthetically pleasing way to build raised garden beds. These can be created in a variety of ways using various materials and building techniques. A very traditional and contextual way to build with natural stone is dry stone walling. This rustic way to build can be extremely appealing and provide crevices for wildlife. It is advised however that any natural stone walling should be mortared in to place with a strong and course brick laying mortar.
Laying natural stone loose is not advised for retaining soil as the heavy load can cause the raised bed to crack and fail. The best way to build a natural stone raised garden bed is to excavate a foundation similar to a brick work project. Broken paving, blocks or even rocks should then be laid on strong mortar.
The joints should be neatly pointed but I personally think recess or racked out joints look better with natural stone walling. Raised garden beds should always be built with drainage or weep holes at the base to allow water to escape.
Brickwork is a classic way to build strong, decorative structures which will require little if not no maintenance. When retaining soil it is best to build beds with a double thickness brickwork bond. These usually use a combination of both header and stretcher courses. English garden, Flemish and Monk bond are all good examples of these.
It is advised to put some sort of impervious capping on top of the wall to prevent freeze and thaw action on the top courses. Alternatively you can use a soldier or header course of robust bricks on top. Brickwork raised beds should also have drainage holes at the base to ensure good drainage.
The size of the raised bed will depend on your plot and orientation of your garden space. When building with timber sleepers as they are quite hefty to cut it is typical to make beds a sleeper length. This is particularly common when building raised, vegetable garden beds. The larger you build your garden beds the more stable the growing medium will be in terms of nutrients and moisture.
Small raised beds do have the potential of drying out in warm weather especially if they have a lot of height. Having said that this may or may not be an issue depending on what you are planting in your beds. Herbs and succulents do not need as much moisture as other plants such as vegetables. Most raised beds will have to fit to your sites criteria in terms of size but in general larger is best.
Raised garden beds give you ability to add a much deeper substrate of good quality soil. This makes working the soil easier and allows plants roots to run long and deep. It has to be noted however that raised beds which are too high can become dry.
A greater raised bed height can be beneficial when soil at ground level is excessively boggy or liable to flooding. If you have higher raised beds which seem to dry out try to incorporated soil which will retain more moisture. Clay loams and humus rich soil can improve the moisture retention within your raised beds.
Watch a video of one of our raised bed projects
Irrigation can be an important factor to consider when building raised garden beds. Sometimes installing irrigation pipe feeds into the structure of your beds can ensure optimum growing conditions in summer. Depending on the types of plants you want to grow and your climate you may or may not want irrigation in your raised garden beds.
Vegetable raised beds
Growing vegetables can be one of the most rewarding and health giving things you can do in your garden. Vegetables require deep fertile soil to do well and for this reason building raised vegetable beds can significantly improve your growing. Not only do raise beds provide better soil they actually help to reduce pests.
Pests have a much harder time getting to your vegetables when they are raised up away from the ground level. Slugs and snails are easily picked off by birds when climbing up steep raised bed walls with no cover. Raised vegetable beds should be filled with a moisture retentive loam and some well rotted manure mixed into the soil. Some vegetables that do exceptionally well in raised beds are cabbages, beans, carrots and potatoes.
Flower border raised beds
Not only can building raised garden beds be good for vegetables they are also great for growing shrubs, perennial plants and flowers. In smaller gardens raised beds can lift otherwise unnoticed flower borders into view and into the sunlight.
This can provide light, warm and airy places for garden plants to thrive widening your choice of plants to grow. The height of larger raised beds can also make plants seem taller allowing you to create spaces of enclosure and secrecy. Raised flower border beds can add structure and assist an exciting planting display to flourish.
One great benefit of building raised flower beds in the garden is they can double up as great seating. This is especially so if built at waist height with either stone work or timber sleepers. This can work especially well in small gardens where space is limited and extra furniture adds to clutter.
When building with timber sleepers a seating top can be installed along the top of the raised bed. This can be achieved by laying a sleeper on its side and fixing it to the bed. No matter how you build your raised garden bed there is always the potential to add garden seating as well a great planting scheme.
When filling your new raised garden bed it is always a great idea to add some existing soil already found within your garden. This can be the dig out from the foundations or any other garden excavations. Doing this ensures existing microscopic soil life has a chance to be mixed with the new growing medium. Many people don’t realise soil is very much a living, breathing organism.
Keeping the soils natural ecological balance healthy is the only way to guarantee healthy plants. Adding some existing garden subsoil will also allow the raised bed to retain moisture. This is especially the case if your garden has a clay soil type. Whatever soil you choose to fill your raised garden bed make sure it is easy to work and fertile. This will ensure enjoyable gardening and excellent results.
Building raised garden beds can take some hard work and planning but are a very welcome element to any garden. They can provide design aesthetics and function as well as providing a rich and deep growing medium for your plants. Whether you are thinking of building large, permanent beds or just raising existing borders a few inches, you will be happy you decided to build raised garden beds in your garden.
Paving services in Buckinghamshire
There is no doubt that when seeking paving services in Buckinghamshire or neighbouring areas it pays to find the perfect contractor. Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners have been paving Buck’s gardens for over ten years with a good knowledge of all types of paving surfaces.
Not only do we have a thorough knowledge of laying paving we are experts in patio design. This means we can soon work to realise a solution to your paving needs. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire have experience of both patio and driveway construction.
Some examples of our paving projects below
Identifying the style of paving and materials you wish to use is a very important part of planning new paving. Paving can be the most permanent type of garden construction. A well built patio or driveway will last at least 60 years so it is important to get it right the first time around.
We create videos of our paving construction projects to show you how we build our paving. We use the correct excavation depths and sub grades in conjunction with British standards. We do our upmost to ensure our paving services in Buckinghamshire are the very best. We have provided some of our project examples below.
What makes Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners stand out from other contractors is we have an excellent understanding of external design. Our director is a fully qualified landscape architect and also a landscape builder. Not only will we help you plan your new paving we will build it to an extremely high specification. We take great care over every cut, manhole, and joint consistency so we can show off our work examples to potential clients and social media.
During one of our typical onsite, free, consultations we will take measurements and work out your gardens opportunities and constraints. After we have completed our initial consultation we will email over our formal quotation for the project. Our quotation will provide a description of the work and a potential start date.
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire are always in line with British standard specification and in response to your ground conditions. This includes digging down to the correct depths and using the appropriate depths of substrates. This is our guarantee to you so your new paving will last the test of time and look amazing for many years to come.
Why not look at some of our paving services in Buckinghamshire work examples portfolio here.
What to consider when paving your Buckinghamshire home.
A very important consideration of planning new paving and especially patios is the orientation. Orientation allows you to plan for one of the most important factors, sunlight! Sunlight provides warmth and a light space to relax and socialise. Very often the unpredictability of the UK’S weather means every second of sunlight should be capitalised on. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire will ensure you are making the most of the available sunlight around your property.
All paving is either made of natural stone or moulded concrete pavers. These stone like materials do a very good job of absorbing the heat from sun. Not only do they absorb it they retain it and release it back slowly. This ‘thermal emittance’ means paving can create warm micro-climates around our outside spaces.
This can be enhanced further if new paving is situated next to the walls of the building. If you have a south facing garden this situation can be exaggerated even further. Paving in these environments can create microclimatic temperatures much warmer than the surrounding locality.
These conditions are perfect for early morning breakfasts and early evening dinners, drinks parties and family get together’s. A garden paving scheme which is planned to enhance microclimate will enable you to grow exotic plants and even fruits. If you like this idea and have room you can grow fruits like citrus and bananas in pots taking them inside for the winter.
This may be a push for the hilly parts of Buckinghamshire such as the Chilterns. Microclimate however can certainly extend a gardens planting palette a great deal.
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire always seek to enhance the beneficial effects of microclimate. We do this by always looking at potential orientation opportunities in any garden. Orientation and microclimate are a very important element to good paving design.
What kind of paving design you opt for will depend on a few different factors. Use, orientation, material, drainage and shape are all paving design factors which need consideration and planning. Most of the time our clients have a good idea of what want. This usually encompasses the location, size and style of the new paving.
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire have many years experience in helping people achieving the paving effect they desire. During an initial consultation we will listen to your needs and expectations and work with you to make them a reality.
If there is one thing that is taught in garden design schools across the land it is function before form. Function is one of the most important parts of planning a new paving project. This includes how your paving spaces will interact with and give host to other garden elements. Paving and patios should be planned to the sites strengths and compliment both inside and outside.
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire can work with you to work out the best spatial solution for your home.
When choosing the type of paving you want the material will depend on texture, usage and effect. Adequate grip will be requires if the paving will be used by children, the elderly or if the space is regularly wet. This is a very functional requirement with extra grip to be found on well textured paving. This can be chiselled or sand blasted or a naturally textured paving such as riven sandstone or course granites. If you require textured paving our paving services in Buckinghamshire can advise you on the best choice for you.
When choosing what aesthetic qualities or style of paving you wish there are many ways of reaching a decision. Very often potential clients have got an idea of the effect they want or have seen examples of what they want. We always do our utmost to involve clients in the design process of their new paving. We find conducting a web search of images locate great precedent examples to develop ideas from. This enables clients to get new ideas and narrow down the type of scheme they would like.
A very common desire of many clients is the idea that the inside flows outside on one simultaneous level. Achieving a harmonious flow from the back of the building through to a spacious paved area is the desire of many. This is a common tool of architectural design allowing space to flow uninterrupted creating a feeling of light and space.
We have noticed many Buckinghamshire properties extent the back of the home to create extra space. These extensions are a great way to extend a kitchen or living area. These are the kind of open plan design schemes perfect for flowing onto outside paving. Many extensions have large foldable sliding doors perfect to give entrance to a Grande new patio.
In these situations or clients wish for the garden paving level to be flush with the floor level of the building. This may or may not be possible depending on where the air bricks are situated on the building. The moisture content of the ground and drainage can also be an issue here. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire can advise you on the best way to proceed with this kind of scheme.
What type of paving to choose?
As laid out above there are many things to consider planning new paving around your property. Functionally paving should complement the building and create cohesion between the inside and outside. More important it should complement the theme of the garden and look fantastic!
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire team can work with you to bring these attributes to your project. With our creative ability to formulate multiple design ideas we can make this process easy. With using precedent images of other landscape projects you will find the process easy and even fun! Our aim is to reach a big vision for your garden and build landscapes of magazine quality. Our process usually safes our clients in landscape design costs.
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire do our best to combine a sound knowledge of design and construction to work up quick schemes. This can be seen below in the simplistic landscape design using black slate. This is a low maintenance garden consisting of paving, a concrete shed base, lawn and retaining seating wall. This scheme was sketched out on paper within the first 10 minutes of meeting the client. The result was a fresh, clean, practical garden design with a beautifully paved patio.
If you would like to benefit from our paving services in Buckinghamshire including a quick sketch proposal contact us here.
Paving a front garden or driveway in Buckinghamshire
If you wish to pave your front garden it is very possible you are trying to make way for a new parking space. If you have no private front parking and with more cars today people have no choice but to pave over them. In the past 20 years Buckinghamshire’s population has risen quite substantially. This has led to busier roads and some large road building projects. This has led to a greater demand for parking surfaces and front gardens has felt the full force of this trend.
Paving the front garden however does not have to be about creating new parking facilities. A well designed front garden scheme can frame your greatest asset and even add value. If you’re planning to add paving to your front garden you may have to add a drainage system. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire can advise you on the best way to move forward. Feel free to contact us here.
Driveway construction in Buckinghamshire
The majority of driveway projects across Buckinghamshire are what we would recognise as block paving. Traditionally there are two main types of block paving. The first is the brick type block paver which comes in the colours brindle, charcoal, and buff. These are the most common type of block paving which is laid in a Herringbone pattern.
The second type is the cobbled effect three sizes block paving. These usually come in three sizes and are square and oblong in shape. Marshall’s range is called tegula with other brands coming under other names. These usually cost about £5.00 more per square metre and in my opinion look much better than the traditional block paving.
One of the downsides to using the typical brick shaped block pavers is there colours will usually fade to a smokey hue of their original colour. The reason for this is the sun’s ultra violet rays eventually fade the dyes inside the block. The concrete dyes of the charcoal, buff and brindle are a much stronger tone than that of the tegula variety. As the tegula are a more cobble effect they make use of more grey type tones. This is more like the natural colour of the material they are made out of. This means there is less fading and a block paving which will look good for much longer.
Many people wonder why block paving is just so popular for driveways across the country. The reason driveways are paved with block paving is down to their construction. Block paving is laid on a compacted layer of sand this allows for small movements in the wearing surface. These movements are tiny and unnoticeable but allow for the uneven weight distribution of heavy vehicles to not crack the surface.
This kind of construction is called flexible paving. Block paving also allows water to permeate the surface so spilt oils and engine metals cant access the road. Laying a driveway on a rigid mortar base means the likely hood of it eventually cracking. If you wish to pave your driveway with paving slabs it is possible but a much deeper excavation will be needed. To ensure no cracking it would be best to lay a reinforce concrete slab base. Paving will then have to be laid on a strong 1:4 mortar mix with a consistent mortar bed at least 40mm thick.
Many people like the idea of a moulded concrete drive with dyes. This is another option however be aware! If you have a large driveway you will probably have to install expansion joints. These can interrupt the pattern of the driveway. It is worth noting that councils do not allow water runoff from impermeable drives onto the road. With non permeable paving a drainage gully with a soak away must be installed with the project. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire can advise you on the best course of action here.
For a typical block paving driveway the ground should be dug down to a depth of 250 millimetres. Depending on the ground conditions this may need to be slightly deeper. Buckinghamshire has an underlying chalk geology which is usually very stable and durable. Then 150 millimetres of MOT Type one compactable hardcore should be spread evenly as a base.
This should then be compacted with a vibro-compaction plate. This should be followed by a 50 millimetre layer of sharp sand which should be compacted. It should be then screened to a consistent, evenly graded level. The blocks should then be laid tightly to the straightest edge and cut in neatly around the edges. The blocks should then be sanded with dry kiln dried sand and compacted once again with the compaction plate.
Want to know about block paving construction the correct way? Why not watch a step by step video of one of our driveways below. Here you can observe the correct excavation, base preparation and block laying. See this video below.
A professional paving company should leave the project, road and pavement cleaner than the day they started. If you would like any advice on the best driveway option for you please feel free contact us. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire also serve Home Counties and North West London. Typical localities for our projects include High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Amersham, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross and the Chalfont’s.
Watch a video of our driveway construction below!
Drainage considerations of new paving in Buckinghamshire
Due to an increase in Buckinghamshire’s traffic and population many gardens are now covered with paving. Traditional garden spaces occupied with lawns and flower borders absorb large amounts of excess storm water. This water re-absorbs into the ground replenishing the natural water table. This natural process keeps the moisture content of the ground consistent. In some cases this process has led to the underlying ground to shrink and crack. This has led to instances of ground movement and subsidence.
The more human development and household paving there is the more water runoff there is. This has caused a huge rise in the flood risk to our low lying towns and cities. Rainwater passes over patios and driveways extremely quickly. This flushes toxins from our surfaces into the drainage network. This has led to pollution pouring into the natural hydraulic cycle and affecting the ecology of watercourses.
For these reasons Councils seek to ensure that all new driveways do not accelerate these problems even further. For new driveway paving in Buckinghamshire there are some facts you may wish to consider. If you are creating a driveway where there was once lawn or flower bed the following applies. If possible water runoff should be directed into a suitably sized flower bed so it can drain. If the whole garden is to be paved all storm water must be directed into a drainage gully. The gully must then be plumbed into a 1 metre cubed soak away underneath the paving.
This will enable all excess runoff water to be reabsorbed by the ground slowly. If you’re planning a driveway and need drainage advice please contact our paving services in Buckinghamshire today.
Paving a back garden patio in Buckinghamshire
A Patio can be a truly fantastic multi use instalment to your back garden. A well laid patio will provide the opportunity for endless outside entertainment and past times. The level consistent surface can host dinner parties, barbecues and even garden games. Patios also set the stage for numerous garden gadgets and gifts. Check out a great article with a selection of patio gadgets here.
The most typical garden patios we build are using natural stone paving. Some of the most popular natural paving on the market is Indian Sandstones, Limestone’s and Slate. There is an advantage to using these natural paving materials over concrete paving. Firstly these natural stones are not as expensive as they used to be. Competitive labour rates in places like India and Brazil have meant reasonably affordable prizes. If you have a budget of £45 per metre you have quite a range of natural stone to choose from.
In my opinion natural stone looks far more superior to concrete alternatives. One of the main problems with concrete aggregate paving is they rely on dyes for colouration. After a series of years the sun bleaches out the colours and tones leading to a worn look. Acidity from the rain weakens the alkaline in the concrete leading to weathering and algae penetration. Natural stone will always maintain their colour and are easy to keep clean especially if sealed.
For back garden paving that will not be exposed to heavy vehicular traffic we use rigid construction.
This involves digging out the new paving to a depth of 150 millimetres down from the finished level. We then supply and spread 100 millimetres of MOT Type 1 compactable hardcore. We then compact with a vibro-compaction plate. For all natural paving we lay on a consistent 40 millimetre 1:4 mortar mix bed. For clean cut paving like slate we sometimes but up the slabs for consistency and then sand the joints. This depends on the client’s preference or style they wish to achieve. For sandstones and 5 size multipacks we will point the joints with a 3:1 mortar mix.
It is important that all paving is laid on a mortar bed wet enough to create a suction seal on the underside of the slabs. This also allows the mortar to be absorbed into the paving creating a firm bond. The mortar bed should be consistent and touch all parts of the underside of the paving. To lay this way requires much more skill than dobbing but is the only way to ensure durability. Paving build this way will last the test of time.
For more information on our paving services in Buckinghamshire please do not hesitate to contact us here.
Beware of paving companies that knock on your door
There is a very common worry and common phenomenon today in the paving industry. Very often a area is hit by a frenzy of driveway construction. A single paving company of which no one has ever heard before sweeps the area. Driveways and patios are built on mass with workers and advertising boards on every corner. Most often these gangs operate under a false name and disappear as quickly as they appeared. They move area changing their name resulting in no accountability for the work they have done. Their construction methods fall short of correct specification and the materials are inferior.
Persuasive sales people are enrolled to knock door to door to try to talk them into their services. Their sales teams are extremely charming and very good at offering extremely low prices. This results in them carrying out a huge number of paving projects at once. This reassures other potential clients who happily agree to allow work to begin. Sometimes they will actually start work without any agreement taking place!
Beware of the cowboys!
Our paving services in Buckinghamshire are very familiar with the aftermath of these kinds of contractors. We are very often called to put right many of these paving projects of which are nothing less than robbery. We find they are excavated to only one third of the required depth and use substrates which do not compact properly. The paving materials are the cheapest they can find and the workmanship is awful. These contractors soon become intimidating when it comes to payment and there is no way to hold them account.
Most of these companies carry out these works on a ten year rotation and change their name for every area. Even if clients are happy with the poor workmanship the drive will soon fail. Tyre sink marks are usually visible in a couple of years soon becoming an accident waiting to happen. The brick work these companies build is absolutely shocking! We have seen 1 metre high walls built on only 3 inches of concrete. One wall was collapsing only after five weeks! The mortar ratio was so weak the rain was washing it out of the pointing.
We recommend anyone using paving services in Buckinghamshire reference our construction description above. Ask them what depth they will excavate? What sub grade they will use? What mortar ratios they use? And insist on a specific brand of paving.
When considering paving services in Buckinghamshire remember a few key facts. Anyone knocking on your door has no demand for their services. If you want cheap you will pay once and then the actual price in a few years time. We recommend checking out company reviews and recommendations online. The internet has given extra accountability to tradesmen ask yourself do these people put effort into what they do? Here at Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners we spend much time making videos of our projects. We also have a fully updated project portfolio.
Please do not waste your money on these paving companies! Our paving services in Buckinghamshire have a long track record of successful projects and construction videos for your reference. Feel free to contact our Buck's paving services today.
Paving on Buckinghamshire geology
Buckinghamshire has a rather unique topography and subsequent geology. North western pressure in tectonic forces from Italy pushing into Europe has helped to influence our landscape. These forces have led to the buckling of chalk bedrock forming the North, South Downs and Chiltern Hills. The Chilterns acted as a dumping line of materials from the huge glacier of the last Ice Age.
This has led to a unique combination of chalk escarpments with flint, clay loams and silt sands. This has led to various soil types any competent paving contractors mush be aware of. Paving companies should follow British standard guidelines on excavation and construction of paving. A professional paving expert should assess every projects soil type to ensure correct methods are implemented.
Chalk is an extremely robust substrate to build on and so is clay. If you have sandy loams typical of areas north of the Chilterns some concrete base work may be required. Our paving services in Buckinghamshire are experts in identifying soil types. This allows us to execute successful patios and driveways based on your unique conditions.
Our paving services also cover Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire. If you require a competent paving company contact Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners today!
Examples of Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners paving.
Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners have over ten years experience in paving both patios and driveways. We have strived for many years to be fully transparent in our approach and work examples. For this reason we put in extra work to create videos of our projects and built and online portfolio.
This gives you the opportunity to research our methods and work standards before we even visit you. This safe you time and the peace of mind we are an excellent contractor that takes pride in their work. Please do not hesitate to contact our paving services in Buckinghamshire today.
Paving patios & driveways what is our approach?
Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners are highly experienced in both paving design and laying paving. Our first consultation will try to establish your desires and needs as well as your properties opportunities. This will enable us to come up with the best paving strategy for you and your family.
Our vast expertise in garden design and landscape architecture means we can come up with that big vision. By utilising simple sketches and precedent images we can come up with the perfect paving proposals fast. We want all of our paving to be worthy of coverage in a national magazine. This is why we are constantly striving to push the boundaries of garden landscaping.
Contact us for paving services in Buckinghamshire
One thing we pride ourselves with is our closeness to our clients. Not only will our director Paul work with you to come up with the perfect scheme he will personally be there on site to deliver it. With a sound knowledge of both design and construction it is possible for us to reach an extremely high standard. Our attention to detail is held to account by our ambition to have the best work examples including videos on the web.
When contacting us we feel email is the best line of enquiry. Feel free to call but due to our very hands on nature we may be onsite, with a client of physically building a project. This means we can get back to you and plan a consultation straight away. For these reasons we feel email is much better. Just leave your name, contact details and a brief description of your project and where you are based.
There is usually a wait of 5-10 weeks from agreeing a project to starting based on how busy we are. There is always a little wait for good quality contractors feel free to contact our paving services in Buckinghamshire today.
One common concern when planning a new landscaping scheme is which paving materials should we use?
Many clients will enquire if slate is a good option for a patio. They have seen images of striking gardens online and like the idea of having it laid in their garden. Well I hear you ask, why not? Well not indeed! Slate is a striking and durable natural stone which can look fantastic on paved surfaces as well as vertical cladding.
A concern most people have with slate is will it be slippery? My simple answer to this no within reason. If the patio is laid reasonably level with only slight falls grip should not be an issue. When slate is wet with extra lubrication there is some possibility of slips but I would say this is minimal. If a certain velocity to travel combined with steep gradient and wet conditions there is a slight risk of slipping. I would say these scenarios are an extreme rarity!
Paving should never really be laid on a slope anyway unless for wheel chair access. Wheel chair slopes will always be built with materials that have high grip wearing surface. Concrete is usually the material of choice here. There are different suppliers of slate on the market; slate that has a clean cut with a slightly riven surface is the best. Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners and our Commercial landscaping department sources slate from two specialist suppliers.
One reason slate is good for an outside patio is it is durable and its colour will not fade. Most concrete pavers on the market will look good for the first few years but will not forever. As acid within rain slowly permeates the paving over proceeding years the wearing surface of the paving will wear down.
We have all seen old patios with small stones and aggregate showing through the surface of the patio. This is a big drawback or manufactured concrete paving. Another drawback of manmade paving is exposure to the suns UV light. This bleaches out the colour dyes within the paving adding to a worn bland look.
Slate being naturally formed from high density metamorphic rock means it is impervious to rain and its pollutants. This means it is also extremely hard warring and durable ideal to the vigour’s of external conditions. Due to slate having no colour additives or dyes the colours will never fade looking brand new forever. For this reason in our opinion slate is very good for an outside patio.
Slate is a very beautiful natural material with high permeability. Although permeability is a benefit to outside patios there are some things the landscaper should do when laying slate. Slate does not absorb water very well meaning it is less easy to bond to mortar.
When mixing mortar for laying slate the landscaper should add a rapid hardener and sealant adhesive such as PVA. The Sealant will increase the stickiness of the mix and the hardener will ensure less chance of bond breakage during curing.
Using a good slate supplier is also crucial when laying an outside slate patio. A good grade of slate paving will have a calibrated underside providing a strong key for the mortar. Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners use two exceptional suppliers of natural slate paving perfect for an aesthetic and robust installation.
Cost is a common concern when considering if slate is good for an outside patio.
Thankfully this concern is never really founded as we find in terms of value for money it is an excellent choice. I have often used the philosophy that for all slates benefits it merely looks expensive! Average paving usually costs around £30 per square metre depending on the quantities used. Slate averages at about £45 per square metre which is a fantastic deal for the benefits it provides. Seeing there is no extra labour cost or effort to lay slate over other paving the extra £15 a square metre is worth it!
As discussed slate paving is impervious meaning it will not be effected by moisture penetration or freeze and thaw.
Due to slates impervious nature stains and spillages are never an issue. People are usually surprised just how wine, coffee, algae and bird poop can seriously destroy a new patio.
Never gets dirty
Slate being black in colour has the added benefit of never looking dirty!
The clean lines of slate and bold colour means it can be very effective in many landscape designed gardens. We find slate patios look very effective with a contempory design accompanied with light rendered walls and even metal! At the same time slate can be used to accompany traditional garden styles such as cottages and courtyards. Good design and style flexibility is paramount on deciding if slate is good for and outside patio.