With an audit, a plan, a design and construction plan its now all about the structure of the garden with the hard landscaping to be done first.


It’s important to understand what you can do yourself and where some help would be a good idea. Think about the skills you have, the experience you have and the time it will take you to complete the tasks you have planned. More importantly, think about the skills you don’t have and will need to buy in.

Project Management should not be underestimated. There are plenty of software options although – https://project-management.com/top-10-project-management-software/ but something simpler like Microsoft Project – https://products.office.com/en-gb/project/project-management-software or even Excel – which is primarily a spreadsheet package – can be adopted as a simple project management tool.


   Building projects have an unfortunate habit of taking longer than expected and costing more than forecast. Costs for groundwork can easily escalate.There is no telling what might be found once you break ground which is why we did the audit at the beginning of this project. That looked at drainage, pipes, cables, soil type and boundaries and responsibilities. But even then you’re never sure what can be found – so plan for a contingency.


There is a growing emphasis on the sustainability and environmental impacts of garden planning and much of the challenge within garden projects can be the balance between customer expectation and the broader environmental concerns. Water absorption, water run-off, plants to support pollinators, energy reduction and recycling are all becoming more important 

Hard Landscaping

Hard landscaping will provide the structure for the garden – the bones, the support for different levels of planting, the divisions between different uses within the garden and the colour changes across the garden. The structure also will help define the differences between water use, water absorption, and water run-off. There are water gardens, wildflower gardens, wildlife gardens, entertaining gardens and everything in between. I am indebted to the University of Reading and the Masonry Society for providing a couple of checklists which are not a bad place to start…although they may serve to show the real difference between enthusiastic amateurs and a fully-paid up professional approach. But better to understand your limitations before you start building rather than halfway through. As ever BALI has a national directory of landscapers who can help.




Structural elements are not limited to the obvious choices of bricks, concrete and sleepers; gravel, slabs and fencing but can embrace garden buildings, of which there is a huge choice, garden heritage objects – junk, bric-a-brac or history depending on your view point as well all sorts of architectural salvage.


As ever the carbon footprint of any development can help define any garden – the materials used, the distances involved in transport, the use and adoption of recycled materials as well as the level of recyclability and impact of the individual garden components.

Bark and turf can work as structural components whilst the re-use of existing materials rather than the creation of new can help bring an instant maturity to a “new” garden.

As ever – asbestos, lead and other contaminants demand respect so please make sure you have all the information you need.


Hard Landscaping – How to pour concrete




Hard Landscaping – How to make cement




Hard Landscaping – Bricklaying for beginners


Hard Landscaping – Decking


Hard Landscaping – Raised beds

Decking can be pressure-treated timber or composite. Both have their advantages although there has been some concern over the green credentials of composite decking so please do your homework.


Alternatives to hard landscaping

Bark – https://www.turfonline.co.uk/blog/using-bark-alternative-hard-landscaping/

Ground covering plants – https://www.turfonline.co.uk/blog/why-ground-cover-plants-are-better-than-paving/

Alternatives to lawns


How to create a wildflower garden


Planting for pollinators