Diarmuid's Golden Rules

This is an edited extract from Diarmuid Gavin's latest book The Extra Room (£19.99 Gill Books) available from Amazon and all good book shops

Every garden is a journey. It’s a journey for the eyes when you’re stood at the kitchen sink – you’re led through this picture in front of you, your eyes moving from point to point. The idea is that this picture should be intriguing enough to draw you or your visitors into it. When you have your outline plan, arm yourself with your list of requirements and your list of desires – what you need to make the garden work, and what you’d love to have.

Bear in mind my 5 golden rules before you begin to draw.

1. When choosing materials, less is more. Repeat the same material for terraces, patios and pathways throughout the plot. This will give the sense of a unified scheme.

2. In these dampish islands your garden needs to be accessible all year round, so allow for access paths. However, don’t allow the strong lines of these pathways to determine your overall design.

3. Make one main statement for your garden about your surface. The main lines you commit to paper may translate into a lawn, terrace, gravel or deck. Don’t have lots of bits of everything.

4. Use line and shape to lead the eye and the visitor from your house around the plot – unless you’re creating a small formal courtyard-type garden.

5. In general most features in a garden will be secondary to the main lines and may not need to be crammed on to a basic plan. So, understand your overall layout before making additions. Water features, small terraces, buildings can all be incorporated within the planted beds, leaving your primary lines to create the biggest impact. 

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