My New Year’s resolution to sit in the garden more has been on my mind constantly, and I’ve finally resolved to get a garden designer in to help me make the best of the tiny courtyard space by the backdoor.
I knew it would be difficult to get my husband to go along with this expense. So I made a list: why pay for garden design? After all, it will just be an idea on paper, with much more expense to follow if the builders execute the plan, so I figured I’d better have my rationale clear in my own mind. As it happened, he ended up agreeing even before I’d read him the list, but it was a useful exercise anyway — here are my top reasons:
- Inviting spaces will bring us outside: as family we’re so much more likely to use the garden if there’s a welcoming place to eat and rest out there. At the moment the kids run about outside and I work on the garden, but we never just chill. I want that, and the kitchen courtyard is the perfect place.
- A tiny space needs big thinking: this is a hard-working area that needs to cater for hanging laundry, feel cozy but not claustrophobic, look good from above and from the kitchen window in all weathers. And that’s not even talking about the planting, which should be peaceful, fragrant, and ideally incorporate a way to drown out road noise. I couldn’t get my head round it myself and finally realized that a professional eye with small-site experience is critical for this space.
- Outside lunches for two: in good weather I try to lure my husband outdoors at lunch, but too much sun, or too little, or the general discomfort of the seating, or bug attacks mean he’ll often give up and duck back inside. A really livable outside dining space can let us enjoy our soup and sandwich and crossword while the kids are at school, and the world is on hold for an hour.
- Pave the way for later: Our kids are tiny and mostly play with friends inside now, but they’ll want more privacy as they get older. When I was growing up my friends never hung out at my house, and I want it to be different for our kids. I’d like them to keep bringing their friends over, and an outside kickback space will make that more likely.
- Lack of design could cost more: If I didn’t get a designer’s help with this space, chances are I’d push ahead with something of my own devising — a bit of new seating, some slabs, a pergola of some kind. Would it work? If it didn’t, would I keep trying, and keep spending? Probably. If we plan to stay in this house, let’s get it right first time. I can stick to the essential purchases for the next long while (manure, bone meal, potting compost), and swap, divide or grow from seed if I want more plants.
Would you ever get a garden designer to help you with part of your space? If you’ve used a designer, what was the experience like?