Designing Gardens to Cope with Extreme Weather
Gardeners – and landscape gardeners in particular – are having to cope with a number of climate challenges. Over the past few years, the UK has seen some of the wettest, windiest and driest weather on record; this makes garden design difficult as soft and hard landscaping features have to account for the potential for extreme weather to strike – whatever time of year it is.
Compass Garden and Landscape Design offer a planting consultancy service in Chippenham, throughout Wiltshire and across the south-west of England, as well as designing gardens for all types of customers. Here are some of the key factors to consider in landscape garden design when faced with an increasingly variable climate.
Include at Least One Tree
Every garden should have a least one tree, says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). This is because they provide a focal point of interest, should be easy to grow and support other forms of wildlife in your garden.
Trees should be able to cope with the extreme weather we have seen recently – but they may need supporting with stakes or windbreaks in their first few years, until the roots have become established.
Most trees like an open sunny spot and may need room to grow; the soil should be not too wet or dry. If you want colour all year round, go evergreen (and not all of these are green – some are various shades of blue, grey and red). Note that evergreen trees typically prefer alkaline soil.
Be Careful with Hard Landscaping
Laying down patios and driveways can create problems elsewhere. Unlike soil, paving, tarmac and concrete aren’t porous. This means a lot of rain won’t always have somewhere to go – if your (or the street’s) drains can’t cope, then it could flood other parts of the garden (or, in a worst-case scenario, your house).
So, consider asking us to use a permeable form of paving, and keep hard landscaping to a minimum if your area gets a lot of rain.
Plant According to the Conditions and Climate
It doesn’t make sense to plant a Mediterranean garden in the shadow of a house or fence as it just won’t get enough sun. Equally, there’s no point planting thirsty species in full sunlight.
For a full rundown of what to grow and when if you need some garden ideas in Bristol and the surrounding area, check out our previous blog here.
Include a Water Butt or Water Source
For all the named storms we have had recently (in under six months we started out with Agnes and Babet, and are now up to Henk, Isa and Jocelyn!) 2023 was also the warmest on record. According to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service last year the global average surface air temperature was 14.98C (around 59F), beating the previous record by a large margin.
Here in the UK temperatures rose above 40C (104F) in July last year- also one of the hottest on record. There have also been prolonged periods of dry (not necessarily just hot) weather.
All of this means your garden needs access to a regular water supply – so, unless you only want to plant species which can cope with lots of water, every landscaping project should include provision for a water supply – ideally a water butt as this is the most eco-friendly.
Be Wary of Frost Pockets
As well as being warmer and wetter, the UK climate can also be quite cold – in Scotland the mercury plummeted to -15C (5F) in January.
While you might think trees, fences and hedges will reduce your garden’s exposure to sharp frosts, that isn’t necessarily the case. What tends to happen is that cold air forms on cooling objects (such as trees) and flows downhill to collect in a frost pocket. These won’t be suitable for many plants, but particularly fruit trees as frost pockets effectively shorten the growing season.
One way around this is (particularly if the pocket has been caused by a hedge or fence) is to make gaps in the barrier which will avoid the build-up of cold air in the first place; another alternative is to erect a barrier such as a fleece or crop cover.
Planting Consultancy in Chippenham from Compass Garden and Landscape Design
At Compass Garden and Landscape Design, we can offer a planting consultancy and advice service, which means we can either buy the plants for you or recommend which ones to get (although we may be able to source them at a better price).
We can also sort out all your hard landscaping requirements, ensuring that there is no collateral damage to the rest of your garden (or home). We are fully aware of the need to build gardens which not only look good but which also support nature’s numerous and varied eco-systems.
If you would like to know more about any of our services, follow this link and fill in the online form, or call us on 07920 051549.