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Landscaping Dublin: Low Maintenance Garden

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There are only two things that matter when making any great garden – What the client [I hate that word…] wants and equally as important the end result. In short, whilst I would love, that every garden is a Peter Donegan memorial, the reality of how happier I have made someone because of their new space outside kicks in in two parts: the minute I finish and handover the picture perfect postcard garden. And secondly in the months and years after I am gone.

In the non-cheesiest way of saying, it is a real honour to get to make people smile because of what I do, but that latter happiness factor requires much smart thinking and it is only then that you really notice, horticulturally what you have [I guess] paid for.

That aside, I could not have wished for nicer people to create this garden for and that very simply makes my work and this northside Dublin garden just that extra little bit sweeter.

Wanna see what it looked like before hand ?

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Small Front Garden: Low Maintenance

small front garden, low maintenance

As small front low maintenance gardens go, especially those in which a car parking spot is a must I have to admit I quite proud of this one. That and the fact that, where functional must meet softened photosynthetic and as this is not a more private space, meant the scope for Peter Donegan memorial gardens here were limited.

Worth considering is that I could not fit the overgrowth pre-garden makeover shot into one image. Suffice to say at some stage in its former life it was a lawn. Also of note is that the client was not ‘green fingered’ and the budget was not a bizillion dollars; don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a case of cheapest is best, more a case of done once and done extremely well.

The overgrowth taken down and removed, a semi permeable membrane was laid upon the grass. It was suggested that that should have been sprayed/ treated first with a herbicide. But of the factors required for the growth of any plant, one of them is light and the elimination of this via the membrane ensured that nature, with a little help, would do its own thing.

front garden, low maintenance dublin

Plants chosen very wisely I considered extremes of height in my selection ie. ground level and ground cover planting and those that were instant and immediately above waist height. The thinking behind creates a more open feel; that as versus the herbaceous border type formal tiered backdrop that blocks out the passage of light, if you get me. They were also 75% evergreen and colour throughout all of the seasons.

The pebble is bright in colour, though not bright gold, which just lifts it ever so slightly. Beneath the front window was placed a bench that I made from very heavy duty timbers painted black and a small raised platform beneath. I wanted them, alongside the more mature planting to look like they had been there for some time, though extremely well maintained.

The beauty about this small space, is the maintenance and plant growth per annum ensures the annual cut back, tidy and trim is not a hedge cutters and a skip, but very much more a secateurs clip and a nip.

Aesthetics and fine choice planting aside, personally, I like the fact that this side of the garden has remained free draining. There’s something about that that makes my smile just that little bit greener.

Peter Donegan:

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Dublin Gardens: Lawn To Pebble

There are gardens I have done that I like and there are gardens I have done that the client simply loves. This, in that context, is up there with the best of them.

No lawn and low maintenance was the top request and considering there is no side access to the house, it was one that I felt was quite logic. With that in mind, front gardens have two choices: they can stand in or stand out. The home being situated in a quiet enough block in Ranelagh, Co. Dublin, I wanted the end result to fit and look like it had been there for some time, though still fresh well maintained.

The Escallonia macranthas and the Grisilinia littoralis were cut back and the dogged old roses, the overgrown Crocosmia and the thorned mass that was a Chaenomeles in some previous life form were removed. In its place went some newer and established Hydrangea’s, Buxus semprevirens, Laurus nobilis and some Vinca minor of the non variegated variety ~ Still old school, just fresher and with brighter surroundings. Of note: it’s almost December and the plants are young. Also of note, my qualifications are horticultural, this clients are definitely not. No offence. None taken.

If I’m honest here, the mild dilemma’s (wrong choice of word, i know) were less photosynthetic and more organisational and planning. A one car width street with metered parking either side did not allow anything more than a small commercial vehicle, therefore no trailers or large delivery trucks to gain access. More than that the one story house came with low-lying overhead cables.

The big squeeze was that I needed to shift 3-4 tonne of decorative pebble from the road, over a path, underneath cables, over railings and into a garden. By hand was an option not up for grabs ~ mainly as it would have added one extra day to the costs and also individually bagged costs more than loose pebble. By far, far better was the alternate of knowing my suppliers [and their vehicles] extremely well, my asking very politely for a wee favour and a few 5am starts. That and as much time spent off site as on.

To the end result, I will admit, it is not a Peter Donegan memorial garden. That said, it was not a place to be making a very large statement. Also not since Bloom have I had so many passers-by take the time to stop and pay compliment[s] for the work that was done. In short: it fits, it works, it looks good and it looks one heck of a lot better than it did last week. Far more important than that, the client loves it.

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Dublin Gardens: Modern, Low Maintenance

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The thinking behind this garden was very much a modern feel, bright and natural, with lower maintenance to be kept in mind. The latter I feel is something that isn’t entirely apparent at first glance and on a personal note, I have to admit, I really do like this garden. Quite simply, it feels natural and equally as important, it looks good.

The backdrop of the upper back wall is bright tinged purple covered by instant semi mature planting which brings ones eye down to the brighter white of the lower wall. The gardens decked area is similar in feel to the wood cladding of the side walls, this in itself allowing a little more of a natural feel. To the pebble, soft and subtle I like the way it allows an ease of meeting between the two separate finished timber floorings.

peter donegan gardens peter donegan gardens

The plants of choice were just two. But here they were two very smart and well thought photosynthetic investments.

The Fargesia, a naturally dwarfed bamboo is set within the raised beds and used as the backdrop. Personally I love the rustle of the foliage here and in my mind, eyes closed it is as soothing as the sound of water.The alternate may have been to choose the lesser and more vigorous Phyllostachys aurea or P. nigra. Growth rates aside, I prefer the softer foliage and stems of the more feminine Fargesia.

gardens dublin

The other plant of choice, Vinca minor. Extremely low growing, almost flat to the ground, the commonly know Periwinkle will form a tight knitting green cover over its planted area. En mass, in this garden, it looks absolutely stunning. Soft and subtle, it is just a touch similar in colour and feel to the leaves of the slow growing bamboo and when its delicate blue flower does decides to blossom, it simply adds to the natural feel of what is a really fine example of a a room outdoors. The alternate to the V. minor is of course the by far, more vigorous Vinca major.

There’s something about this garden that I really do love. In it’s category, I have firmly placed it up there with only the finest. More than that, it feels good sitting within this space. And that, that feeling, requires just that extra little touch of thought, consideration and imagination.

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Q’s or thoughts [?] leave a comment below or drop me a line.

Peter Donegan:

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small gardens [more] ideas

I rumaged through the archives to find some images that may help you a little better along the way in getting some ideas for your garden.

Like one… dislike another… you might just find that little bit that may make your smile a little brighter 🙂

***for more information on small gardens – click here