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Garden Design Ideas & Tips from Phil Spencer

Despite not getting much use out of our gardens, as a nation we love them. The moment the sun’s out we have the BBQ lit, however small our outdoor-space! If like me you live in a city, space is at a premium. It’s therefore important to make the most of your garden whatever its size.

When buyers are looking for a property, particularly at this time of year, outside space is nearly always at the top of the list of requirements. But it’s not all about size. A well designed and inviting garden is a must.

garden design ideas

Not everyone wants an extensive garden that needs a lot of maintenance; low maintenance gardens are becoming increasingly popular. Unless you’re a keen, hands on gardener or are prepared to hire a gardener on a regular basis, I would recommend a low maintenance garden. Personally, I’ve opted for astro turf (the ultimate time saver), but there are more natural options such as slow growing and drought resistant turf that helps keep maintenance to a minimum.

When looking at garden design ideas you should begin by deciding how you want to use the space: do you want a grassy area for kids to play in or an entertaining space that catches the sun in the evenings? At the same time you shouldn’t just think about what you want from the space – what would a potential buyer want? Attractive garden design ideas can easily add as much value to a property as an extra room inside would do, so its well worth investing in getting it right.

garden design tips

Designing a garden can be overwhelming and it can be easy to make mistakes, such as putting a shed in the spot that catches the sun all day and a patio in the shade. It may sound obvious but without a clear idea of what you want to use the space for – taking into account the amount of light the garden receives and when, soil type etc. – it can be difficult to get it just right. This is where hiring a garden designer can prove invaluable. An initial consultation costs between £100 and £200.

garden design

Images: Pinterest

If your garden is an awkward shape or doesn’t catch much sun this will be money well spent. A garden designer will be able to advise you on how to make the most of the space available. Clever solutions like running the same/ similar floor from inside to out can create the illusion of space, as well as choosing plants that will thrive in low quality soil or shady spots. Planting knowledge and an expert’s advice could easily save you money in the long run.

Of course all gardens do require basic maintenance. Managing trees and borders should be done annually and a gardener will be able to recommend the best time to do this based on the type of hedges and trees that you have in your garden. Other basic maintenance such as weeding and cutting back needs to be done regularly. You can employ a labour only gardener for about £20 per hour a couple of times through the summer to mow the lawn and hoe the borders to keep everything in check.

Spring is the best time to get your garden in order, ensuring you can make the most of the sunny days throughout the summer months!



Looking for a local gardener to help with garden design? Get expert advice from an approved gardener.

Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer doesn’t need much of an introduction, he’s TV’s most well-known property presenter, having co-presented Location, Location, Location and Relocation, Relocation for over 10 years. Phil'ls blog posts focus on adding value and advice/ tips for when you're buying or selling your house.

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  1. Employ a gardener a couple of times a year to keep everything in check? Phil might know a bit about houses, but bugger all about gardens!

  2. The heading says Phil Spencer on Astro Turf.
    However, there is no index or search facility.
    I cannot find anything about astro turf.
    Not the kind of ‘helpful’ site and frequent if it is all a game. Please can you tell me where I find this information. And how I find my interests in future?
    Regards Vannie

    1. Hi Vannie,
      You can search for articles using the search function on the homepage. In this article Phil talks about garden design in general and why he opted to use astro-turf.

  3. Hi Phil, We have two dogs, a male & a female, & hence our grass is a mess. Have been looking at astro-turf but not sure what one to go for. Could you give us any advise? Budget is low to medium. Many thanks Mrs Hurley. P.s. We live in North Lincolnshire.

  4. Hello Phil! Also not to be overlooked is the use of colour to ‘lift’ a garden space – too much brown (weathered wooden tables and chairs, brown fence, concrete slabs) can drain the garden of light and atmosphere. Simply painting the fence an off white (for reflecting sunshine), and the furniture (or sanding it and treating it) with a good external paint, and adding more colour and greenery through plants and climbers can add a huge amount of appeal and change the garden completely!

  5. In response to the question about recommending artificial turf (although I am not Phil!). I also have two dogs, and after much research and sample testing etc. went with Lazy Lawn – has now been in for 3 years and looks as good as the day it was laid. Hope that helps!

  6. You say the astro turf is fine with two dogs, I also have two dogs but accidents happen a lot how does it clean up

    1. Hi Pam – asto turf is a good solution if you have dogs, it stops them bringing mud into the house and is easy to maintain. You just remove mess as usual and you can buy special sanitizer sprays from pet shops, alternatively vinegar and warm water work well to clean up accidents.

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