10 small changes to your garden for big impact

Paula McWaters
·4-min read
Photo credit: Country Living Gardening Supplement |  The Garden Collection/Flora Press/Ellen Rooney
Photo credit: Country Living Gardening Supplement | The Garden Collection/Flora Press/Ellen Rooney

Making more of your garden isn’t all about the grand plan garden design. Sometimes the smallest tweak or ingenious idea can make all the difference to how it looks and feels.

It might be as simple as going to a nursery (or mail-ordering) to choose some new plants. It could be introducing climbers to take advantage of your vertical spaces. You might focus on a difficult area and spruce it up, or even plant a mini meadow.

Whatever you decide, give it your full attention and enjoy the doing as well as the end result. Gardening is to be savoured. Just being outdoors with a sense of purpose can lift the spirits immeasurably. It’s time to change things up...

1. Structural elements

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

Structural elements, such as topiary box shapes, are important in any garden design. They offer focal points that distract from less cared-for areas and provide all-year-round interest.

2. A shady corner

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

A shady corner can come to life with a collection of suitable foliage plants in varying shapes, forms and shades. Hostas are particularly attractive with their paddle-like leaves and can be interspersed with ferns. Look for woodland fern varieties called Dryopteris with attractive fronds.

3. An open gateway

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

An open gateway beckons you in, willing you to explore further. While this example is rather grand, a similar effect can be achieved on a smaller scale, with some screening panels of trellis either side of a simple picket gate. Dream up some romantic planting around it to complete the effect.

4. Soft colours

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

Soft colours bring a sense of calm to a garden. If you feel the need for sanctuary, you can achieve it quite simply by selecting plants in a soft shell pink, such as this free-flowering Clematis ‘Pink Fancy’. This is one you can hard prune in early spring for a fresh flush of growth.

5. A blank wall

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

A blank wall or fence can be cunningly disguised with plants. This espaliered copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’) looks lovely against a light backdrop. Alternatively, fix supports to fences and plant climbers to blur the garden boundaries.

6. Distress-paint

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

Distress-paint a set of rustic-style shelves in a soft shade of blue or green to complement lines of terracotta pots filled with colourful sun-loving pelargoniums. A space-saving and beautiful weekend project.

7. A little meadow

Photo credit: Marik Lengauer / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Marik Lengauer / EyeEm - Getty Images

A little meadow can be created by leaving one area of your lawn uncut and dotting it with plug plants of wild flowers such as poppies and cornflowers. It will save you mowing, look pretty and be a pollen hot spot for bees.

8. A mini greenhouse

Photo credit: .
Photo credit: .

A mini greenhouse is a neat solution if you want to raise plants from seed and are limited on space. Choose one with adjustable opening roof lights to allow good ventilation in summer, and doors that give you easy access to the shelves.

Country Living have a range of greenhouses, potting sheds and summer houses at Homebase (as seen in the picture above). Browse the full range here.

9. A tricky slope

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

A tricky slope becomes an inviting pathway if you dig out wide, shallow steps. You could edge them with sleepers or corten steel, as seen here, and top them with gravel. Plan new beds either side, matching the plants to your conditions (soil, aspect and so on). Have fun creating a new planting design, filled with colour and interest.

10. An archway

Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement
Photo credit: Country Living magazine gardening supplement

An archway frames a view and creates a sense of intrigue and drama. There are many on the market to choose from, or you could make your own using hazel poles and willow. Anchor it firmly in the ground and grow climbers up it, such as honeysuckle or climbing roses.

6 top tips for an instant facelift

  • Buy a bench – ideally an inexpensive one – to paint and cover with cushions for a new sitting place to retreat to

  • Cut new edges to sharpen your lawn, using a half- moon edger. Reshape if necessary

  • Hang a mirror beside your terrace to visually ‘double’ the space

  • String up some lights – solar-powered are the easier option – to create atmosphere

  • Plant some houseleeks in a bowl to grace the middle of your garden table

  • Arrange three pots together, filled with summer annuals, as a focal point

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