All Posts Gardens by Peter Donegan Garden Design

Donegan Landscaping: Garden Project, Howth Dublin

I never really liked showing the before photos or works in progress. That maybe is something that has come from my time in show and television garden building, in that there was always something left to the imagination irrespective of the hard work that went in behind the scenes.

The Chelsea’s of this world can be particularly good for that and it’s not until one gets talking to the gardens makers that you really appreciate that what might appear as the simplest of builds was one of that really required careful planning in order to make it for all including the client, seamless.

This phase 2 of this garden project was very much one of them.


Before I get into it; you would be correct should you remember the garden structure to the rear of this garden. Built August 2015, the cabana and it’s hardwood floor surface got a fresh paint (oil, to be exact) well before anything else began.

Following that and worth noting I hadn’t seen this space in over 2 years, there was a cut back of almost all plants and select removal of stems in the case of the Japanese maples, the Corylus avellana Contorta and the Betula which had just popped above the balcony and middle floor to the rear of the back garden.

The garden challenge:

The only access to this garden is by side access, down a 1.5 story staircase, which leans at an approximate 35 degree angle, which essentially means a wheel barrow is not at all logic. And whilst the first process was everything out, then it becomes everything in; with a knock on effect of time limits, the subsequent man hour unit increase per task and timings calculated to prevent a back log of deliveries and removals.

Pruned back by hand, the lawn and existing soil lifted, foundations laid to the outer border of the new to be lawn, limestone cobbles (as versus granite) hand laid and pointed, 20 tonne of soil to replace the lawn and soil removed carried in by hand and every roll of fresh cut rolled turf laid to perfection.

To its finish, I love how in the lashings of rain the lawn becomes lush(er) as the limestone outer turns from that chalky finish to wet blackboard; and then slightly fade away a they dry. It helped that the soil was like absolute gold dust, not so much in the carrying department, but more that I’ll sleep better horticulturally speaking knowing the new lawn has been built so sweetly.

And as I read this back I’ll admit it does sound quite simple what has been done here. The images to be fair don’t really give much away and I’m also aware you also haven’t seen the before photos. But then much like my first attempt at ever asking a woman to dance, which never actually happened; I’m not so sure ala my cooking skills, the process is something you’d actually want to see.

Fair to suggest I enjoy some challenges a little more than others. In this case, and my previously noted life skills (do I call them that ?) in mind it’s a lot less for me complex when it is the making of a garden.

Happy. X

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Peter Donegan:

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