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8 Ways to improve your garden

BY Ben West

1st Jun 2023 Home & Garden

8 Ways to improve your garden

Looking to improve your garden? Ben West shares suggestions for all budgets, from giving your flowerbeds a makeover to adding a swimming pool

Britain can’t get enough of its gardens, judging by the enduring  popularity of programmes like Gardeners’ World and Love your Garden, and gardening events like the Chelsea Flower Show, the Malvern Spring Festival, the Tatton Park Flower Show and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. 

As the days get warmer and sunnier, most of us with a garden will no doubt be wanting to spend as much time as possible there, getting as much from their garden space as attainable. 

It’s good to see the garden as another living space, which could  perhaps house a lodge ideal for a spare bedroom, hobby, office or gym, a treehouse for the kids, or a pond to attract a variety of wildlife. If you have a big enough garden, your home could be enhanced by the construction of a pool or tennis court. Simply having in a flowerbed makeover can work wonders on your garden.

"It’s good to see the garden as another living space"

It’s important to bear in mind, though, that adding garden features does not guarantee an increase in the value of your home. Indeed, get it wrong and you could lower the value of your property rather than increase it. 

Many people would put upscale features like a tennis court or swimming pool high up on their wish list. But these additions, though appealing, won't necessarily add value to a property: it is best to build one because you want it, not because you think it will increase the value of your property. For many buyers, a house with land that is free of pools, tennis courts, conservatories and tree houses is more appealing than one crammed full of features.

Ponds

Today’s plastic pond liners, starting at under £35 and available from garden centres, make installing a small pond quick, easy and inexpensive. Ideally, a pond should be sited in a sheltered, sunny spot away from overhanging trees. If young children will be present, sturdy fencing should be installed.  

Add privacy 

Putting trellising along the top of fencing and planting climbers such as jasmine and honeysuckle extends the screening effect in a garden. 

Swimming pools 

It is important to think about where the pool will be situated. A modestly-sized garden with a swimming pool dominating the outdoor space is a big mistake. Similarly, a swimming pool or tennis court in the wrong place can be an eyesore and ruin the aspect of a garden.

Buyers not looking for a property with a swimming pool might be put off by the hassle and cost of maintaining it, whereas the upkeep of a tennis court, summer house or pond is relatively easy.

Swimming pool in garden - how to improve your garden

If you have children, make sure to take safety precautions with your swimming pool

With above-ground swimming pools being the cheapest option, the most inexpensive in-ground outdoor designs are self-build kits with a vinyl liner. Concrete pools are the most expensive, and if the cost exceeds your budget, a ready-made fibreglass pool is another option.

Be sure to research the ongoing running and maintenance costs, such as heating, cleaning and chemical costs. 

Tennis courts 

Unlike swimming pools, tennis courts are cheap and easy to maintain, useable throughout the year and without the safety considerations associated with pools and young children.

"Unlike swimming pools, tennis courts are cheap and easy to maintain"

Specialist tennis court installers include Charles Lawrence Tennis Courts (https://www.allcourts.co.uk/), Cambridge Courts (https://www.cambridgecourts.co.uk/) and Doe Sport (https://www.doesport.co.uk/). Having a court built costs on average upwards of £30,000, depending on earthworks needed and surface and fencing types. 

Conservatories

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), adding a conservatory can raise your house's value by a around five per cent on average. 

As well as providing extra living space and bringing light into your home, they can achieve the desirable feeling of bringing the garden into the home, and make fabulous spaces for entertaining. 

Conservatory - how to improve your garden

A conservatory can add extra space, but they need to be well designed

However, they can be costly to build and will eat up a chunk of your garden. A south-facing conservatory needs ventilation and shade, while a north-facing one requires good heating. If badly designed they can resemble oversized porches not in keeping with the design of the house, and could result in lowering the value of the property.

If you opt for a conservatory be sure to ask the builder or supplier exactly what is included in the price: is it inclusive of flooring and electrics or will you be left with a bare shell? 

Add variety

Features like paving, split-level decking or a raised patio all bring visual interest, and can reduce the amount of maintenance required in your garden. 

Flowerbed makeover 

If your budget—or garden size—does not stretch to features like those above, it does not need to be costly to introduce a splash of colour to outdoor areas, especially if you avoid exotic, unusual plants and stick with more common varieties that thrive in the British climate. It saves time to buy established plants rather than starting plants from seeds.

"It does not need to be costly to introduce a splash of colour to outdoor areas"

Plant tall shrubs at the back, with medium-sized perennials situated in the middle. A low-growing mix of colourful perennials and annuals at the front is an ideal combination.

New colour and a new look to the garden can be especially uplifting and help show what can be a great asset to the home in a new light. 

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