Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 5
   October 2011
   Designing a Country Garden

Country gardenCountry garden
A country garden is more complex to design but also more forgiving.

Anyone who has ever designed a country garden knows that it offers distinctly different challenges as compared to designing a city garden. The most obvious are its size, scale and the variety of habitats. While the task may seem daunting, there are advantages to it.

First, although the design of a country garden is often more complex than that of a smaller city garden, it's often more forgiving. This is because most country gardens are set well back from the road and therefore are not subject to the same up-close scrutiny as urban landscapes. Second, the larger size provides an opportunity to experiment by, for example, planting trees and shrubs that wouldn't fit in most city gardens. Third, a country gardener can take advantage of the varied microclimates and topographical conditions. Finally, features often found in the rural landscape (bodies of water, berry patches, extensive rockeries, etc.) can be incorporated.

On the other hand, it can be challenging to appropriately incorporate smaller, more intimate spaces, such as a breakfast patio or a reading area, into a large garden. These often take the form of hedge-enclosed garden rooms on the flanks of the house. Also, country grounds may require a long-term phasing plan to spread out significant development costs or to obtain necessary municipal approvals.

Start With a Plan
As with all good garden design, you need to have a solid base plan of the property. Pay particular attention to existing elevations, drainage, soil conditions and site ecology. Additionally, every rural site has its own character or genius loci (spirit of place) to be discovered and featured. Elements such as a well-established hardwood forest, a pond nestled in a valley, or an ancient stone wall that snakes across the land all add to the genius loci.

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