Garden Design Service

Gardens very often design themselves while they are being planted but sometimes they need a little help

Whether you are re-planting the shrubbery, extending your living space outside or totally re-landscaping, I can help you design, build and plant your garden.

After an initial survey of the garden which may require formal plans to be made, I will come up with design ideas for planting, hard landscaping and garden features.

I always keep in mind that it is your garden so it is important for it to reflect you and what you want from your garden.


Prefering to use paper and pencil for the plans and sketches allows them to have a large scale.

Applying Spacial Awareness to design

Putting it in to practice

Following on from my interest in the influence an artistic background has on garden design I have been consciously noticing how this aids me in putting together garden designs. Sometimes this is not done on paper or indeed in any formal way but just by being in the landscape is similar to being in the landscape of your mind when painting, in particular abstract painting.

There is a place in ones imagination which can be accessed in much the same way I imagine that the scuptures at Nazca in the Andian dessert were visioned. There has been a lot of conjecture on how these came to be there and I am only explaining how I would do it given such a desire to put a mark on the landscape. Using the skills that I use to get the essence of the landscape in my head while I am deciding what to put where and for what reason may be similar.

The image to right and immediatley below it are two aspects of a garden which is yet to be constructed. (More details can be found here). While surveying it for potential ideas I was walking the land to get a feel for the landscape it was in and to advise on the levels that the garden should take. I noticed that the house was at least 8 feet from the highest spot in the garden and the corner furthest away from the house was around 4 feet higher than the ground level of the house. I watched myself as I visioned the way in which the levels of the garden would interact with eachother.

Without thinking I had started to apply the same techniques that I apply to abstract painting to the landscape in front of me. First I stand and look without apparently seeing anything. I am just putting the landscape into my head so that I can see it and be able to maniputate it. Secondly I am able to make fundamental decisions based on the lie of the land. In this way it is the landscape that is used as a stimulus for the design and then all changes are referenced back to it having taken into account all the subsequent changes and modifications or revisions. This process also takes into account the clients wishes as they are treated as another physical part of the landscape and not singularly abstract thoughts and conversations. Everytime an element is changed, added or taken away the new arrangement is referenced back to the landscape.

I found that I could see the landscape from above by extrapolating it into another plane much in the same way that a 3D program would do it, however abstract notions such as a clients wish for somewhere to sit and watch the world go by could be taken into consideration in the concept rather than in the design stage.

My view at the moment is that the 'referencing back to the landscape' is the same referencing that I do when I am painting. In figurative painting it is a reference to the form in front of me and in abstract painting it is to a recusive look at everything, in other words it references back to itself all the time.

I find that because I have done this 'looking' for a long time I presume that everyone does the same thing. On talking to several people I find this is not the case.

Garden Art - landscape as a canvas

How garden design and landscaping relates to the process of painting

While attending Pershore College I had the opportunity of reading the dissitations of past students. One entitled 'Influences of othere artistic disciplines on landscape design' by Emma Todd dated 20 October 2000 started me thinking about the way the landscape related to painting, in particular the notion that art brings the subtle lines and curves that we find so uplifting in the countryside and natural landscape around us.

There was a particular phrase in the dissitation which suggested that there were many lanscapers who did not engage particularly in the creative process (I hate the phrase but it fits the bill) in the same way that an artist or sculpture might. I wondered, as an artist how I could take this idea and observe how I would approach this, it gave me a whole different meaning to the phrase 'landscape painting'.

Since then I have been observing my thoughts while gardening and in particular when designing gardens. The way in which I will talk about a garden design to a client is very similar to the way that I approach painting except that instead of discussing the ideas with the client I discuss them with myself. I have been able to put some of the theory into practice. Details of a current project are in the gallery pages. This also ties in with spatial awareness observations.

There is a very tangible similarity to the way that it all works out. I had been lead to believe that garden design was similar to architecture in that you have a design marked out on paper with all the possible main design decisions made before a spade is lifted or a plant planted. Having observed the way that I have shaped gardens in a similar way that I paint I can see a marked difference in techniques. My approach is to make a plan of what exists at the time of starting and where it is in relation to other things, which helps me to become acqainted with the way the land lies and then I start to make my next move rather than design the whole thing. This method also means that the client comes along with you for the ride or perhaps the other way round, either way, it doesn't matter.

In painting this is a normal process as a mark is made and then perhaps another and then it is evaluated as to what it has done to the space and its relationship with spaces around it and itself. The next move is then dictated by all the previous ones. In this way the whole thing can change or be changed on the addition of one particular item even items that have previously worked when they were implementd can be removed if they do not work and put back in when they do if needs be. To quote Ron Hull 'you are what you do next'.

There is a point as there is in painting and sculpture when the thing becomes what it is, its seems to aqcuire an identity and life of its own. This, I have noticed, is when it becomes part of the flow of the landscape (if landscape here is seen as its surroudings which can apply to anythin), it has become part of the stream and has harmony with what it is and where is is. This process goes on in artistic endeavours because there is a creation and then for that to be right in its place it has to refer back correctly to itself and its surrounds and as long as it does so at every change that occurs it remains in the flow and contines to be what it is. When physical matter is produced either the growth of a plant or the growth of an animal the refering back to what it is, is already done by the growing process, its only when we use thought to change things that we have to manually have a referal process. Some people may do this automatically and some have to find a way of doing it.

Reverse the technique

The next logical step is to reverse the process. Rather than paint a landscape that is in view, create a painting and then transpose that into the landscape.

I have often produced paintings that I have used as a starting point for a graphic design. So now I could produce a painting and then use the shapes and colours to design the garden. This would mean that the garden would need to be started from scratch or perhaps it could be applied to just part of the site. The difference being that the design would come primarily from an artistic perspective.

The painting could then be framed as part of the story and development of the garden.

Graphic Design

As well as designing gardens I am also a graphic designer. I design logos, leaflets, signage and corporate identities.

It helps to while away the long winter nights when there is not much going on in the garden or when it is raining during our fickle summers and the ground is too wet to get on.


If you would like to know more please contact me and I will be happy to go through anything with you. You can also visit www.cstf.co.uk which gives more details.

Feet and Inches

An interesting thing I have found while designing is the way that the proportions change when using imperial measurements and now very often I use feet and inches, poles and chains, perches and roods.