Peter Donegan, landscaping dublin, garden design

picture perfect lawns…?

The grass title maybe misleading. Need advice? [click here]. I may have constructed unusual lawns, [topographically] but never seen anything like this. Thanks to Will who got it from brandflakesforbreakfast who got it from this guy.

lawns wimbledon different peter donegan

Lawn care enthusiasts take note — it’ll take more than a riding mower and a thrice-daily waterings (for shame) to outshine artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey this summer.

The pair have perfected their talent for manipulating the light sensitivity of ordinary grass. Black and white negatives are projected onto the grass, 12 hours per day, for over a week as the grass grows in a dark room. Different blades get different exposure and the results are photographs, like the recent Wimbledon portraits shown above.

Find more of their grassy experiments at this gallery at Arts Admin.

Small Gardens – good design

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The key to ‘good’ small garden design is to make the most of your small space or to make it look as big as possible.

The first step in this is to eliminate symmetry ‘that can tell me how big your garden is’ [by just looking at it from a window] and also to use the brightest colours possible to increase light movement and therefore enhance the feeling of space and movement around you.

Consider it a little like a bathroom [?!!] ie. a small space. The smaller the space the smaller the tile, the brighter the colour and also the brighter and airy it becomes!

The second step is to ensure that the distance between fixed features and/ or hard surfaces is that of a meandering nature ie. it takes ‘time’ to get there visually or they fade to the background so as not to take precedence over those things that give a sense of distance [ie. black/ dark].

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Be careful not to want to cram too much into that space. I know you might not like white; or you want a water feature or decking and ‘I want and I want….. and can we not?’ – the answer is always ‘but of course!’ But if the question is how do I best spend my budget to get the maximum return [both monetary and aesthetically] then you may feel it a good idea to take an experienced garden designers advice. That said client is king! I always suggest that for my free advice I can always give you a full refund!!

At the end of the day – gardens should be fun and the process for both me as a designer and also for the client should be one not of stress but of excitement. I know I have spoke about costs before but generally speaking [in conversation with a fellow garden designer yesterday] one should allow about €100 per square metre not inclusive of ‘fancy stuff’.

Consider it a little like buying a car. Can you buy one for a five hundred euro ? would you?

Other information on garden design:

If it’s not on this list. You can leave a comment and ask or take a browse through the categories list [over there on your right].

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inspirational thoughts

christopher columbus

christopher columbus

whilst the weather maybe a little rough in North Dublin today; trawling through a mountain of reference books seeking a solution to mindful serenity for a show garden design…. [ie. there is no problem just at the moment it doesn’t sit right, in my imagination] I stubled across this photograph of Christoper Columbus.

On the back I had written a quote by spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno; ‘Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.’

Sometimes attempting what can be only by some considered absurd in landscape design is frowned upon and laughed at…. when in fact it may also be considered genius. Will some laugh, nee be critical of my next design? or will it merit applause and acclaim…… ? Does it matter?

absurd adj obviously senseless or illogical; ridiculous [collins dictionary english]

never had your garden ‘designed’ before

Here’s a piece I wrote some time ago. Recently we have had a wave enquiries where people feel that not paying for a design is saving money. That’s perfectly fine but as long as you take the correct free advice and from the correct people.

We have designed anything from 17th century five acre gardens to the most modern and futuristic of advanced and out of place designs – and built them. We have also on the other hand designed and built gardens that dont cost the earth but do look really good.

The second piece of advice is to take the correct advice. So should one pay for a consultation charge? The answer is of course if you feel you should and naturally if you will get something valuable and worthwhile for your cudos. If you do decide to get a garden designed and/ or built for either sixty five euro or sixty five thousand euro remember the numbers at the bottom of the page of the invoice is what it actually costs and you gotta pay that amount [I’ll get back to that later]. In the meantime – enjoy the article.

peter

You want to get the garden designed. You have already tried and after spending the entire lottery, it still looks humorous. The sun is shining. The neighbours have just started their barbeque. You own a jungle. Where do you start?

On the cheap: Measure up the garden. You don’t need a measuring tape or trunnel wheel. One large pace equals one metre approximately and one of your feet is one foot (you’ll have a rough idea). Drop down to the local garden centre and with sketch in hand ask all the questions you can. Its better to go on a Monday when it’s quiet. Always give an idea of the theme you want in the garden, don’t tell them I want this and one of them etc.(if you say water feature and it may not ever have looked good in your back yard – the friendly people who were going to give you advice are now on commission and your stuck with a gift for your sister.) Remember you don’t have to purchase on that day. Call the offices of a professional landscapers/ designers association. They’ll put you in touch with somebody in your area. Generally you can get advice (free) over the phone. They don’t have to call out.

  • Pay a little: Call a landscape contractor of reputation. They may charge for call outs/ consultation charges, but this is a very wise investment (even if the Father-in-law and Jimmy’s brother/ cousin/ sister are all expert green fingers). Decide on the basics with your family first. Do you need?
  • A shed – what size and type? Brick or timber?
  • A washing/ clothes line – Rotary/ retractable/ or one for the local football team?
  • A barbeque – built in or moveable? Gas or coal? Consider the neighbours and the clothes line!
  • Kiddies play area – Swings, slides and pits? sand or bark mulch? Moveable or resident? In my opinion it is better to put these ‘built in’ in one area – this can be adapted/ changed to suit your investment/ garden at a later date. ie. when the little ones mature.
  • Lights – how many? Security and/ or decorative? Sunken or above ground level? Remember low budget/ plastic looks better below ground and you’ll still see the light.
  • Outdoor electricity points/ plugs – where? Always get a double and get the two done together.
  • Outdoor tap/ water source – where? Both of the above mean the contractors don’t need to traffic over your new flooring and you don’t have to be there shedding tears at the state of the place halfway through the job.
  • Table and chairs area – Just for two or the entire Partridge family? Decide on whether it goes to full sun or shade. Please, pick/ measure the dining set you want first and allow 1.5 metres off the back of each chair. This means you only get the size of patio required and the stonemason doesn’t retire on your entire garden budget. (It also stops Nanna falling into the new rose bush when she pushes her chair away to get up from the table.)
  • Raised timber structure/ Patio – take the advice of your consultant and ensure it fits into your overall theme.
  • Green waste area – they can be ‘off in scent’ but they are in todays genre a must.

Ask for a rough ‘outline overview sketch’ of what the garden will look like – on headed paper – this will save you the cost of a full design service. Assuming it’s not a requirement of planning, this should, with a little vision and trust on your part, suffice. Again give a general themed idea of what you would like.

Pay a little/ lot more:Call a registered landscape designer. They usually charge for call outs/ consultations. They will charge for their design and also a percentage fee to oversee their design. This will be a very detailed design with a planting plan you may not understand ever and may come complete with a visual impression of what you can expect to see. Your garden designer will ensure you don’t need to do any of the above. Ensure your requirements are met so as not to result with your designers very own memorial playground. Let them know how much time and what gardening tasks you are willing to spend/ do in the garden (be honest and realistic!). Find out what contractor will carry out the necessary works and as important if they will do the after care/ maintenance. Get an estimate of cost on the landscaping of this wonderful design before you pay for the actual drawings. This ensures you don’t end up with a very expensive piece of paper that will never become a creation.

Remember:

  • Know your budget limit but be realistic.
  • Agree all prices before your contract starts.
  • Stonework requires dry weather and plants/ lawns need water.
  • Don’t pay for contractors tools to sit in their shed on ‘down time’ and don’t end up paying a contractor to water you plants
  • You don’t have to do it all at once.
  • Gardens can be phased in over a period of time. It may take a little longer but you will get that dream.
  • Don’t be afraid to do something different
  • Quality products cost more and cheap can be often tearful rather than cheerful.

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