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21 February 2024

Gardening designing outdoor space

By Ben Haberfield

Following on from last week's column on garden design, the key element to creating a unique outdoor space is the materials used to construct it. This is your artist's pallet.

There is a whole array of materials that can be used from the natural, like wood and stone, to the modern man-made, like glass and metal. When choosing what to use, the important thing to consider is the properties of each.

A good design utilises all the properties of each in an efficient, practical way. For example water is fluid, glass is solid and both have varying degrees of transparency. A glass screen with water cascading down it creates a solid wall of water that can obscure a view but still let light through and creates a beautiful focal point.

The next important element to consider is lighting, there are three types of basic lighting; up, down and cross. Up lighting, in the form of spike lights, can be placed in garden beds to underlight flowering shrubs and trees.

Down lights cast a flood of light over an area or a spot of light onto a specific point of focus from above. Cross lights can be placed at the base of a wall to cast a low-lying light across a pathway.

The last element to think about is the planting or soft landscaping of the garden. It's important to get a harmony and balance between the hard landscaping (the constructed side of the garden) and the soft landscaping. Don't let one overwhelm the other. I am often asked by clients to maximise the space. It's important to know how much useable space you need for seating, entertaining, kids playing areas etc before you start that way you can work out the planting around it.

Then give up the rest of the space to planting. Well layered shrubs and flowers will add to the over all feeling of space. Ground planting is ideal in the foreground and flowering shrubs should be planted around the base of a palm tree in front of a wall covered with a flowering climber.

Think about colour and shape combinations too. Place fragrant plants near your seating areas and ornamental ones by the focal points. Most villas come with a garden of sand – a blank canvas for you to create your perfect outdoor living space. A well designed one potentially doubles your living space, and brings a touch of nature into your life. 

- Ben Haberfield has been in the business for 10 years, creating gardens in Australia, Indonesia, the UK, France, Italy and now the UAE. To find out more log on to www.growgardens.ae