DIY Garden ideas for your new home
Looking for ways to create a stunning garden in your new home? These step-by-step, budget-friendly garden tips from Persimmon homeowner Joanne Derrick are a great place to start.
When you move into your beautiful new home it’s exciting to try out all your favourite interior design ideas. But what about the garden? It can feel daunting knowing where to start, especially if you’ve not done much gardening before. You might be surprised at how quickly you can transform a patch of freshly laid turf into a beautiful garden sanctuary. And it might be easier than you think! From choosing the basics all the way to creating a stunning cottage garden, here are some garden design tips to get you started.
Choosing a base
Whatever size plot you have, you can have a lush, green garden in no time. The outdoor space of a new build home is the perfect blank canvas to create an area that works for you. If you haven’t already laid turf, this can be done by local companies in less than a day. You might also like to install a patio, build a deck or lay gravel.
Once you have the perfect base, you can add plants. It’s worth buying some perennial shrubs, plants that last throughout the year, and putting them in the soil at the edge of the garden. Check on the kind of light your plants will need. Ferns work well in shady areas, rhododendrons and azaleas love the sun. Vary plant heights to add interest. And don’t worry if your planting looks a little sparse to begin with. Once you have sunshine and rain your garden will come to life.
Next, add pots and planters with colourful flowers already budding or in bloom. If you buy one or two flowering plants each month, you’ll have a sea of colour across all seasons and you can build on this each year. Bright accents could come in the form of ceramic pots, paper lanterns or garden furniture. If you prefer a cool, natural scheme you might like to choose rattan or woven planters and seating.
If you live near a road and have a rumble of traffic, then a babbling water feature is a great addition. It will add some white noise to your garden to disguise external sounds. You can pick up self-contained units cheaply and install them yourself. Some even come with soft LED lighting. Imagine yourself lounging in the sun, drink in hand, listening to water gently cascading in your own garden. Bliss!
If you have a large garden, you might like to create zones. You could have seating in one area, a play space for the kids in another, a shed for the gardener of the family, or even a home office. When painting your shed or fence, black or dark grey stain is on-trend and looks great against red brick or sandstone homes.
In the summer you’ll want to make the best of your outdoor space. Explore some of the ingenious ideas outdoor entertaining ideas, such as fold-down bars, bespoke barbeque areas or pizza ovens, as well as trendy firepits to keep warm when the sun goes down.
From retro hanging egg chairs, to sophisticated corner sofas and cute bistro sets, there’s garden furniture for every taste. And select some accessories - outdoor rugs, lanterns, cushions and bright parasols. With just a few updates you’ll have a garden you’ll want everyone to see.
Creating a cottage garden
If you like the idea of an English country garden, you can create this look in your outdoor area, which is what we’ve done at our Persimmon Corfe in Wiltshire. Since we moved in six years ago, my husband, Jason (head gardener!), and I have been constructing a cottage garden. When we moved in, our back garden was a 60ft square of topsoil with a few patio slabs. We’ve landscaped it and now have a thriving country garden just outside our patio doors.
To create this yourself, first, do your research. This is the fun part! You can pore over garden design magazines and look at online articles and social media for ideas. Don’t get too overwhelmed as there are tonnes of choices! Once you decide on the kind of layout you prefer and the sorts of plants and features you might want, sketch out some ideas or make a mood board.
In our garden, we knew we’d want to design different kinds of areas to make it a space to explore. Eventually we will plant over nearly all the lawn so that the garden will be an abundance of flowers and plants, with various seating and eating areas, as well as a vegetable patch. We don’t have the time or budget to do this all at once, but we make some headway each year by adding new features and plants.
So, what might you find in a typical cottage garden? The overriding impression is an abundance of plants and flowers, a sweet-smelling haven for wildlife with terracotta pots and wooden planters. Curved paths of brick, stone or gravel weave through flower beds and pergolas or arbours are dotted around, as well as comfy seating in natural materials like timber or rattan. Flower colours are pinks, blues, purples and yellow and you’d also have plenty of shrubs and maybe some trees.
Just because you have a modern home, doesn’t mean you need a modern garden. Within a couple of years, you can have a mature-looking garden that’ll look like it’s been there for decades.
Get the look
- Lay a patio of antique-style slabs which have texture and imperfections. They’ll weather quickly and are best left in their natural state, so no pressure washing needed
- You’re going to need a lot of plants, so pick ones that spread. We were lucky to have planting in our front garden when we moved in. Once these had established, we transferred some to the back garden. Top spreaders include angelica, verbena and aubretia.
- Plant a tree. Even in a small garden, a tree will bring an essence of maturity. It’ll also attract birds and other wildlife. We bought a silver birch in a garden centre sale which is getting very tall and recently added an Amelanchier and another magnolia.
- With design, think curves and if you can, add a slope or stepped area. We built a hump using earth from digging to lay a curved path around it. We planted a Japanese maple and a little zen den with a Buddha statue nestled among ferns and evergreens.
- If you have a wooden fence, then leave it as natural timber. You could also add raised beds edged with stone walls or railway sleepers. A raised vegetable patch is both attractive and practical. It’ll also help with the food bills if you can grow some tasty fruit and veg of your own.
- Climbing plants and creepers feature heavily in a country garden so install trellis and archways. Our red brick garage in our garden looked imposing so Jason planted a wisteria to climb up the wall. He tended it each year until it flowered for months last season. Some plants like this require patience and some pruning but it’s worth it.
- Create a wildflower area. For your plants to get pollinated you’ll need to attract bees so have an area of grass you don’t mow and let it grow tall, perhaps sprinkle some wildflower seeds too. Cottage gardens are always a little wild, not too manicured or over refined. Birdhouses also look traditional and will provide a comfortable place for blue tits or sparrows to roost.