Rising to a garden challenge? Here’s How!

The exposed-garden challenge

Wind offers a garden few benefits on its mission to evaporate moisture and batter plants young or old – not to mention making sitting outside a bit of a trial! So, if your plot is exposed in all directions, decide which view you want to be the focus and check which direction the wind mostly comes from and how you can block the wind while still enabling the view. Then, you need some sort of barrier. You could build a wall but avoid a solid one – it’s much better to use slatted fencing or a wall with gaps to give the wind an escape route.

Bushes and trees can provide an effective natural barrier. The ones first hit by the wind need to be tough as they are the most exposed, but the ones further in can be a little less resilient as they will be getting protection from the most external ones. It follows then, that the plants in the most sheltered heart of the garden can be a little more delicate.
Staking plants will make your plants more resilient as they are getting support and don’t have to take the full brunt of the elements. Plant them densely to maximise their wind-break capacity and cut them back in autumn so that they are a little more solid as the winter weather approaches. Remember to feed, water, and mulch heavily.

The oddly-shaped garden challenge

Perhaps surprisingly, an awkwardly-shaped garden is often easier to organise than a rectangle because instead of having to split it up and create angles and shapes for interest, they are already there. You can have geometrically shaped beds and use the angles as guides to place your paving or seating areas. It can be a good idea to pave an oddly-shaped area rather than lay a lawn as as we tend to walk round it rather than on it.

We can use its shape to divide the garden up, giving both structure and the opportunity for each part to have its own focal point. Paint unappealing walls or fences black, maximise the beauty of an old wall and your oddly-shaped garden can become a delight. Make the most of itsirregularity, plant carefully, and you have a garden that is unique.

The roof-garden challenge

Obviously, the first thing to do with any potential roof-garden is to make sure that it is safe and sound. It may have to support furniture, planters full of wet soil, and people – so if you don’t know, it’s best to take advice. Even if it isn’t load bearing and extra support is needed, it shouldn’t be too huge a job. It will need a slight slope to enable water to run off and a drain-pipe, so make sure you include this in any structural alterations you are having done. Alternatively, add flooring or decking that has a slight gradient built in.

It’s important to work out which direction the wind mainly comes from as it’s inevitable that roof gardens will be exposed, with surrounding buildings simply serving to concentrate the wind through the gaps. So, block the gaps with fencing or large planters – you could even use planters to act as a wall with the double advantage of the planters themselves and the plants within acting as wind breaks. Split your roof garden into designated areas – a spot for relaxing, cooking and sitting at a table and use hardy, thick – stemmed resilient plants that don’t mind exposed conditions. You could place a trellis against a less than beautiful wall and train a scented climber through it.

Clever choices of furniture could give you a little bit of hidden storage space and remember to maximise vertical height to save space. Paint drainpipes to blend in, use solar powered fairy lights to illuminate the evenings and there you have your own roof-garden slice of heaven.

The Willow Wand: beautiful living art for your garden.

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