Moving home can be stressful and the garden is often last on the list of things to do. A new-build garden is often a very blank canvas which can seem daunting and a plot which has been laid entirely to lawn can often look a bit uninspiring.
Don't be put off – there's a lot you can do to get the best from your new garden. Here are our top tips:
Where to begin...
The best way to get started is to spend some time gathering inspiration, assessing your garden and creating a plan. Remember, you can do it bit by bit - as time and money allow; you don't have to do it all at once. Even just a few simple additions will transform a new-build garden.
Sorting out your soil
One of the most common problems people face with new-build gardens is the soil. It can be compacted, poor quality, and you'll be amazed at how much rubble and rubbish you'll find!
One of the best places to start is to decide on your design and put in any paths, stepping stones and other hard landscaping first. That way you can avoid getting covered in mud every time you step outdoors! It’s also much easier to get it done before you’ve added plants and grass.
Dig over soil that is going to be used for plants or lawns, removing any rubble and buried rubbish as you go. Digging is important as it will help break up compaction and allow plants to put down decent roots. Add soil conditioner such as farmyard manure (not multipurpose compost) and fork it into the soil – at least a bucketful per square m. This will help improve drainage and fertility and help your plants get established.
If there are areas you're not going to get round to planting right now, then it's a great idea to cover the soil surface (mulch) and prevent weeds from growing. Chipped bark is ideal because as it breaks down it will gradually improve soil structure.
Pick your plants
Once you’ve got your design together, it's time to start thinking about the plants – include some fast-growing, tough plants to give you some quick wins.
One of the most noticeable things about a new-build garden can be the feeling of being boxed in by walls and fences. It can be worth painting or staining fences a darker colour to make them less visually overwhelming. Darker colours can also help highlight the plants in front of the fence.
To make your garden feel established quickly, use trellis panels covered in climbers, along with a few larger plants to break up the visual impact of its boundaries.
Autumn and spring are the best times for planting, although it can be done at any time of year, as long as the soil isn’t frozen. If you plant in the summer you’ll need to water the new plant a lot to help it settle in.
Think about Privacy
Lack of privacy is a common problem in new-build gardens. If this is a problem for you, you can start to address it now and you'll be topless sunbathing in no time!
Planting trees is one of the best solutions – there are many trees suitable for smaller gardens. It's generally best to buy young-ish plants and let them get established – they'll soon romp away.
Other garden features such as trellises and pergolas can be useful for adding visual interest and privacy to gardens. New gardens can lack height so they're a useful way of getting it quickly, especially when planted with climbers.
Lawns and turf
You may not have got a lawn with your new house. If you would like to grow a lawn, the best months for either laying turf or sowing grass seed are April and October. It's really important to make sure the soil is well prepared - get that rubble and rubbish out now, it's easier than doing it later.
If the developer has left you with a lawn, it may well need repairing or care to settle in. Water it well in hotter months to encourage root growth and don't walk in new turn when it's just been laid.
One of the quickest and most satisfying ways to stamp your identity on a new garden is to re-shape the lawn –creating circles and gentle curves can work really well in small plots.
It's worth considering whether you need a lawn at all. Depending on the size and shape of your garden, and whether you need somewhere for children to play, a lawn may or not be right for you. In small gardens or if you don't have space to store a lawnmower, then consider alternatives such as extending flower borders, patio areas, or using gravel instead.
Pick your style
It's a great time to think about what kind of garden you want to create in the long term. Do you want a family space, a riot of colour, a place for wildlife, entertaining or somewhere low maintenance and modern?