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How Much Can You Change Your Garden?

Hoping to do a total garden overhaul? Better think about the time and money involved, first. Let us help you decide whether to go for a completely new look, change some areas, or bring in a few new elements.

Excerpted from Garden Design

When thinking about a new design for your garden, first ask yourself which elements you like and want to keep, and which you dislike. Next, consider your budget - does it allow you to add a new feature, adapt the existing garden or do a total makeover with new landscaping, plantings and hard elements? Even if money is tight, it's still possible to breathe new life into an existing garden by making a few simple changes.

Here, we weight the options of a completely new look, a new feature such as a patio or a pond and a planting overhaul within the existing layout. If your garden is small or seen as one space (rather than a series of connected spaces), it might be worth rethinking the entire area; larger plots will take more time and money to redesign from scratch. Identify the features that are most important to you as the ones to change first, but remember that your needs may change over time, for example as your children grow.

Completely New Look

Wholesale change can be hard to visualize, and often means removing existing structures and mature plants. However, a total makeover gives you the chance to do something totally different with a garden, and create an innovative space personal to you.

Pros
- An exciting blank canvas where you can create whatever you want.
- The end result will be more coherent and integrated if you do not have to make compromises around existing elements.

Cons
- Loss of mature trees and shrubs.
- New plants take time to fulfill their potential.
- The reality may not match your vision.
- Short-term loss of wildlife habitats — although, depending on your new design, these should return over time.
- Sometimes a completely blank canvas can be more daunting than adapting an existing layout.

Cost Considerations
- Potentially expensive — hard landscaping, and mature plants, if you don't want to wait for plants to grow, are costly.

Wholesale Change in Design Gives Total New LookGarden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Develop an Existing Plot

This is the most common approach. Even though you'll be working with existing elements, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can refresh your garden's look. Start by identifying the features you want to keep, and then develop your ideas from there. If you're working with a multilevel or sloping garden, a site survey may be needed.

Pros
- This approach is usually less time-consuming and costly than a total makeover.
- You can work in stages and tackle different areas of the garden in sequence.
- You can make use of the existing mature planting, so there is no need to wait for everything in your garden to grow.

Cons
- The end result may lack cohesion. It is important to make sure that the features you add are complementary to existing ones.
- The renovations may not have the dramatic impact you are looking for.

Cost Considerations
- Working with the current layout is less expensive than a complete makeover, and makes sense if you want to undertake changes in stages as money becomes available.

Developing Existing Plot Most Common LandscapingGarden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Adding a New Feature

Making a change to just one part of your garden is the simplest option, but it's crucial - and sometimes challenging - to integrate a new feature in a way that complements, rather than clashes with, your existing design. Pay particular attention to choosing materials and colors that blend in well.

Pros
- Adding one new feature should be a straightforward change to manage.
- The rest of your garden will still be usable while this feature is being installed.
- Focusing on just one project means you can concentrate on getting the details right.

Cons
- Making sure that your new feature fits visually with the rest of your garden can be difficult.
- You have to set limits on your imagination.
- You may damage other areas of the garden while building the new feature. Lawns and existing plants are particularly vulnerable.

Cost Considerations
- This is the least expensive option — unless, of course, you are planning something very glamorous. The budget should be relatively straightforward to manage.

Adding One New Feature is Simple Option for DesignGarden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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