Q. How can I give my new garden some seaside character?

Newbuild gardens present a wonderful blank canvas... but sometimes it helps to introduce a theme to help you get started, says Dawn Isaac

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Fans of the great British coastline will find it relatively easy to recreate this look in their own back garden. A sunny spot will always work best as this will suit most coastal-style plants but as long as your space is relatively light and bright it's really about choosing the right materials.
Stone, shingle and even sand can be teamed with decking, sleepers and rope to immediately set the right tone. Sheds can become beach huts with a little effort and firepits and hammocks will automatically take on a seaside feel when set against this backdrop. Add in some ornamental grasses, glaucous evergreens and colourful Mediterranean or coastal plants to finish the look.

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1 This typical newbuild garden is just laid to lawn
2 Nothing invites you into the garden
3 Lack of stimulating space for relaxation or play
4 Bare walls and fences create a boxed-in feel


Splitting the garden into distinct areas for relaxing and entertaining makes the space immediately more interesting and useful. A large pond in the centre gives a waterside feel, offering reflections of plants and sky. Decking creates a jetty-type feel beside the water, offering spaces to pond dip and relax by the beach hut in the far corner.

Add sculptural sleepers - Railway sleepers used as upright sculptures or windbreaks offer an accessible alternative to driftwood

Paint the shed to make a seaside hut - An off the shelf shed can soon be turned into a beach hut with clever use of woodstains, well placed shutters and a length of two of bunting

Add grasses - Recreate the grass-peppered look of sand dunes by introducing plenty of ornamental species around the garden

Create a waterside deck - If you have oodles of space and plenty of budget you could consider adding a swimming pond, but even an ordinary pond can get a beach-side feel when teamed with a projecting decked area

Make an urban beach - Import plenty of fine play sand to a geotextile-lined area to create an urban beach. If visiting cats are a worry, you can cover the area in sections of artificial turf when not in use

Entertain around a firepit - No beach party is complete with a sing-along around a fire so add a firepit and rope ottomans to set the mood

Add posts and rope - Edging the decked area in posts with rope swags evokes waterside

Laze in a hammock - Enjoy lazy summer days on a hammock set amongst the planting

Lay stones and gravel - Plant coastal style species through a geotextile membrane and add shingle and stones on top to give a beach feel to the garden

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