All things associated with gardens are covered in this section. Lawn turf, ponds and pond liners are general areas of interest with garden lighting and garden furniture becoming ever-increasingly popular. The construction centre has links to find a huge range of trees, shrubs and plants....more
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Gardens might, on the whole, be getting smaller as housing developments evolve, but they have become hugely important. Never have so many television programmes focused on the importance of garden design, and property features that allow the garden to be treated as an extra ‘room’ – such as bi-fold doors, have become big business. Landscaping is also an important part of commercial developments and can involve large sums of money.
Whether you are a developer calling in a professional to maximise the appeal and benefits of public spaces, or a homeowner looking to create an area for entertaining, children’s play or growing unusual vegetables, there is a plethora of products available from garden centres and specialist suppliers. The garden area of a house can be used to create a truly customised living space.
There will always be a need for turf, whatever else goes in and out of fashion. But today, a green space can also be created using artificial grass.
- Hard landscaping
For relaxing and entertaining areas, raised decking is popular. This can be anything from a simple square area to an elaborate design incorporating different levels and balustrading. In the early days, virtually all decking was timber – either pine or various hardwoods. But the choice has now been swelled by hardwearing, low maintenance composite boards or tiles, which are offered in many finishes. Both wooden and plastic deck tiles can be used to create different visual patterns.
An attractive alternative for patios, and other areas of the garden, is paving. Pavers, often referred to as paving slabs, are available in a number of styles and are extremely long lasting. They are typically produced from concrete, natural stone or cast stone. Cast stone and natural stone pavers are more aesthetically pleasing than traditional concrete slabs. Beautiful natural stone is highly sought after, but cast stone uses stains and additives to offer an attractive finish close to that of natural stone for a much lower price. Many builders’ merchant and specialist suppliers stock cast stone products. Natural stone pavers, are widely available in many colours, such as brown, red brown, yellow and grey. Block pavers, typically used for driveway construction, are also typically manufactured from concrete and can look similar to natural stone depending on their surface finish.
With sustainability and flood prevention being at the forefront of people’s minds, porous paving is being specified more and more for paths, driveways and focal points of gardens. Most systems are based on resin and aggregates, which come in numerous colours and finishes. The aggregates are often recycled, to further increase the eco credentials of this type of surfacing. Gravel makes an attractive garden feature not just for paths but for creating low maintenance beds planted with alpines, grasses or other plants that like free-draining conditions.
- Ponds and ornaments
Garden ponds can provide an impressive focal point for any garden or landscaping scheme, as well as provide valuable sites for a huge range of wildlife. Today, geomembranes are the favoured choice for lining ponds of all sizes. This impermeable synthetic material is very durable.
Other ways or providing interest are with features such as statues, obelisks or other ornaments. Traditionally made of natural stone, garden ornaments are now also available in concrete crafted to resemble stone.
- Fences and gates
Boundaries need to be defined around gardens and timber fencing remains a popular choice. It is offered in many forms and serves many purposes including providing privacy, deterring thieves, keeping children and pets secure and adding to the aesthetics of a garden, particularly when used to divide areas into ‘rooms’ or as a support for climbing plants.
Careful installation is important if the fence is to give years of service. Reinforced concrete posts, set in concrete, can provide increased support that will last for many years. There are special fencing panels available that allow wind to filter through, making them less susceptible to gales. If views from your garden are crucial consideration could be given to including a trellis panel within the fence. More bespoke garden fence options include ornate iron railings, which can be accompanied with matching gates.
Gardens should be places to relax. Unless seating areas have been built in to the design, benches or other furniture will be needed so everyone can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labours. These are available manufactured from a range of materials including durable metals, such as cast iron and aluminium, to wood and composites. Seating is also important in parks and public open spaces, and there are many companies offering street furniture in stunning designs that is tough enough to stand up to heavy usage and the worst the British weather can throw at it.