Outdoor areas is shrinking as sites become smaller and closer. It becomes vital that we use every inch or our expensive land and design our gardens as efficiently as possible to assist in the comfort, privacy and appeal of our homes.
This should be thought through at plan stage. We will know on site where the sun will be hot or low and in what seasons so we can benefit from pre-planning our gardens if not pre-planting as the construction of the house moves on.
An ideal block has a long side to the north with the plan showing the living areas along this side. Ideally we have the main out door fresh air “rooms” this side too. Establishing deciduous trees along this boundary will shade the living and out door rooms in summer when the trees are covered in leaves. In winter when the canopy is twigs the lower sun can easily stretch into the home for FREE heating!
“What to do with an avalanche of autumn leaves?” I hear you say.
“Easy!” I say “Compost!”. Kitchen scraps and oak leaves are fabulous for composting down to rich loam which is so good for gardens generally but vegetable gardens especially.
Along the south side of your home from where the worst wet and windy weather comes, thick, evergreen shrubs will protect and buffer the wind and rain assisted by the eaves in protecting the home. Eaves are valuable at protecting windows, walls and doors. The length of the eaves on the north side of the home calculated correctly will allow the sun's entry into the living rooms in winter and stop the sun short of the sills in summer. Perfect efficiency!
Gardens can provide us protection to walkways by using arbours, can, of course, provide flower decorations for interiors and as gifts, vegetables with travel distances calculated in millimeters which ensures the freshness and health benefits are intensified enormously. It is a very therapeutic occupation to spend time gardening, especially for children who not only benefit from the fresh air, they need to know where our food comes from and they will build immunities through contact with soils, plants and bugs.
By taking time at planning and thinking stage the garden can be created to be of huge benefit to the comfort, efficiency and production of your home. Laying out the beds with rich loam after house construction has finished will give the best start. Adding compost and mulch occasionally will ensure only a small amount of time will be required to water and maintain the plots but the profits of enjoyment and production will be wonderful!
Margot Kirke is a qualified architectural drafts person with a passion for practical living, making the best use of space and use of natural light and warmth.