Landscape your lawn INTO your garden

So – you’re creating a new garden design; and you want to include a lawn – fantastic. And obviously you do the design first and then work out where to slot in some lawn, yes?  Well, no. I want to challenge you to do things differently. I want you to begin your new garden design by landscaping your lawn right from the start.

And I want you to avoid the mistakes that Jason made…..

All gardens evolve. What you create now will change year on year. And watching your garden slowly mature is a delight – but it can also bring nasty surprises too, unintentional colour clashes, small shrubs that become huge trees, light stone that becomes a stubborn grimy grey…

And I can guarantee that, without advance lawn planning, you will be disappointed by your lawn’s impact and performance in your landscaping. To illustrate this, let’s see how things went wrong for one gardener – Jason…

Jason likes stripes, so he invested in higher quality turf. But he didn’t think about how his lawn contours would influence his mowing pattern. Result – he struggles to create parallel stripes on slopes, around trees and in areas with tight mower turns.

Jason loves small architectural trees and searched high and low for a dwarf weeping willow. But he planted it in the middle of the lawn. Result – now the grass below is dead or brown most of the time, starved of water by the thirsty tree and never feeling the warmth of the sun.

Jason’s garden features an old oak tree and an ornamental pond. Jason thought it would be nice to have a strip of lawn running between the two but forgot to factor in access. Result – routine lawn care is difficult, and when the oak leaves fall in the autumn he can’t easily remove them, creating ideal dark and damp conditions for lawn diseases to thrive.

Jason created some new areas of lawn without first testing the soil or analyzing the grass species in the adjoining existing lawn. Result – as with much new turf, Jason’s is predominantly dwarf ryegrass; as well as not blending visually with his older grass, this has different maintenance needs to the rest of his lawn, doubling Jason’s work and (and garden centre bills!)

Poor Jason – a dedicated and enthusiastic gardener but one who overlooked the advantages of planning properly for lawn in his new garden design. And he could so easily have avoided these problems. Unfortunately this happens a lot, because even professional landscapers can fail to consider what the new lawn is going to need in order to thrive.

So, my advice, to anyone designing their own garden or commissioning a professional, is this. Pay as much attention to the basic needs of a healthy lawn – its habitat and care needs – as you do to any other plant or feature; and consider what you yourself will need too in order to look after the lawn. The grass in your garden may be a single colour, a simple feature or simply the backdrop to your overall design, but to give that design the full justice it deserves the lawn needs to be kept healthy and happy. It’s not difficult, it just takes good planning.

Here’s to a happy landscaping outcome! David Hedges-Gower