Planning your garden

Whether you are planning an entire new garden for your new home, growing your own foods, creating a safe area for the kids or planning the perfect space to entertain, getting the garden right is vital if you want to make the most of the outdoors during the summer months.

To help you on your green-fingered journey, we have put together some helpful tips and advice that will see your outdoor space turned into a green haven in no time - or those of you who are less ‘green inspired’ can find out how to maintain a simple-to-manage garden.

Planning your garden in a new build
When you buy a brand-new home, as standard, the front garden is usually turfed and the back garden is left untouched except for top soil.

For some, this bare and open space might seem rather daunting but if you follow the same steps as you would when decorating your home you won’t go far wrong.

As with most new projects, preparation is key so get out on the pen and paper, laptop or tablet and start your research by asking yourself what kind of garden would you like to create? What will be the main requirement for your garden? Do you want a large planting area to show off a wonderful variety of flowers and colour? Do you want to grow your own fruit and vegetables? Maybe you want somewhere for the kids to play safely.

The list really is endless but by thinking about what your garden will mean to you, you will be ready to create the perfect outdoor space for yourself and/or your family.

B&Q offers some great step-by-step guides and advice on planning a garden.

Most people will opt for a lawn if it is a family home as this creates a safe and soft place for the kids to play. If your new property only has top soil, make sure you check the quality and then you can start to turf and create a lovely lawn.

If your budget allows, you can employ a professional gardener or landscaper who will take care of everything for you from design to planting.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offer some great advice on what you need to consider when hiring a gardener/designer/landscaper.

If you want to design the garden yourself, think about how much sunshine it gets and at what time of the day. Make sure you do plenty of research and get good advice – experts at your local garden centre are often happy to help. You can find an abundance of magazines, blogs and websites that will both inspire and offer practical advice.

Again, make a visit to the RHS website for ideas and inspiration.

Grow your own food
Growing your own food has never been more popular as home-owners are opting to turn their green spaces into a self-sufficient food haven.

If you want to grow your own fruit and vegetables, the best advice is to start small with herbs and then you can build up to a mini-market in the garden! Once you have tackled the ease of herbs, you can then start on strawberries, tomatoes and other tasty totally organic food!

Seeds are easily available and it really is quite simple to start. You just need soil, water and some containers to germinate the seeds.

For a step-by-step guide on what to grow and when, visit the RHS website.

How to create a safe place for the kids in the garden
Children love playing outdoors. Your garden should give ultimate freedom for them to run around and be complete loons but you must make sure you take precautions in your garden so that they stay safe.

Safe is a very informative website that highlights the dangers in the garden. From trampolines to barbeques, kids’ safety needs to be paramount.

How to create the perfect garden space for entertaining
If you want your garden to be an extension of your home, entertaining al fresco will be at the top of your garden priority list.

There is now a fantastic choice of garden furniture and accessories - so all that is required from you is the fun and creative role of colour and accessory matching.

Do you favour a coastal look with neutral soft furnishings and cool wooden accessories? Or maybe you would like your garden to look like a vibrant Mediterranean dream with multi-coloured throws and bright plant pots. Whatever your style, check out Pinterest for some cool and creative ideas. You will need an account but once you have signed up (it’s free) you can start to explore design ideas that will make your garden as unique as you are.

What should I plant in my garden?
You need to make sure that you choose the right plant for the right place. Some plants/flowers are much happier with a little bit of shade whereas others will quite happily flaunt their petals in the sunshine. Do you want the garden to be full of colour in spring but also have some presence of life in the autumn too? Think about what works well and when.

The RHS has published a fantastic month-by-month guide of what you can plant and what jobs you can do monthly.

How to create a simple-to-manage garden
Not everyone can or will want to be out in the garden every day tendering, pruning, watering and trimming! If this is you, you will want a garden that can still be enjoyed but with little maintenance.

If this is the case, you are best having a nice lawn with a few plants that require little water so that you don’t have to be out there daily during the summer months. Hardy evergreens, once established, will require little care.

Accessories such as fairy lights always make the garden look amazing in the evening so instead of focusing so much on plants, a good idea would be to look at garden ornaments and ways you can make your space look dazzling without the need to do very much gardening!


Decorating your new home

For some people, decorating is an absolute joy. For others it is merely a necessity.

Whatever your take on decorating your new home, it is vital that you get it right. It would be a shame to invest in a new property but then fail to show it off to its full potential.

The main thing to remember is that decorating should be fun. Honestly.

Whatever your motivation for decorating, the point is that it needs to look good. However, we all have different budgets, style, properties and life demands so it is not a case of ‘one size fits all’.

Read below for top tips on how to decorate your new home, decorating on a budget, reusing what you already have to make a whole new impact, last-minute decorating and decorating in style - no expense spared!

Work with your builders

Of course, your new home doesn’t need to be all magnolia and white when you move in. Housebuilders naturally tend to go for these neutral colours when decorating a house ready for its first occupiers – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you reserve your new home early enough – before the builders have bought the paint, tiles, kitchen units and other things they will use in your house – it is often possible to specify more colourful decoration that suits your own style. Even if your builder doesn’t highlight these options during your purchase discussions, it is worth asking.

At Larkfleet Homes we have a range of options. If you are thinking of buying your new home from us, ask your sales adviser for details.

Some builders may be prepared to take on more adventurous decorating projects (such as wallpapering) although they may charge you for it. Others will not do more than the basic painting but they may be happy for you to either do the job yourself or arrange for a professional decorator to do it before you move in. The key, again, is to ask – as early as possible.

Decorating your new home

Even if your new home is decorated in neutral colours when you move in, it will be clean and fresh. In some cases, you may just wish to add a few ‘extras’ such as colourful cushions and scattered throws. However, if you want to add a little more individuality to your new home, you might want to consider decorating it to show off your own style.

The first thing you need to do once you have made the decision to decorate your new home is make a list. This list should include all the things you currently own and all the things you will need to buy such as paint brushes!

Once you have your list ready, set a budget so you know exactly what you are working with. It will be easy to get carried away - which is great if you can afford to. However, if you are on a budget, you won’t want to be left with any last-minute spending. 

Do your planning one room at a time and make sure you know your room dimensions. 

Now you are ready for the fun part of actually decorating your new home.

You will find plenty of top tips online and we would recommend you start with Homebase for advice on the practical side of decorating such as what paint is best to use and how to apply it for a perfect look.

It is best to think about how you want to feel in each room. Some people might opt for a more mellow feel in the bedroom whilst others might want it to be a place of rejuvenation. Think carefully about the colours you choose as colour has a bigger impact on our moods than you may realise.

You will also need to think about soft furnishings and lightning. Pinterest is a wonderful website full of creative ideas. You will need an account but once you have signed up (it’s free) you can start to explore design ideas that will make your home as individual as you are. 

Decorating on a budget

The word ‘budget’ is never one that makes home-owners feel too great but it is a word that they use a lot. When decorating on a budget, please remember that you really don’t need to spend a fortune to make your home look like a million dollars. In fact, many bloggers now make a decent living repeating this mantra!

Set a budget and stick to it. Budgeting is fun and it can be a real buzz when you realise how well you have managed to transform your home whilst saving some pennies too.

If you shop around, you will be surprised at how cheaply you can pick up some gems. If you take your snobby hat off for one minute, you might even consider supermarkets for those cutesy extras. They have upped their game in recent years and you will be surprised what stylish secrets you can find. Sometimes you might even find that you only need to make a few small changes such as throws, pictures and mirrors to transform a room.

Reuse, recycle but look brand new!

Reusing “old” stuff to look brand new is now a super trend and not just amongst those on a budget. It really ticks the box for the environmentally friendly and creative individuals amongst us.

Some people might look at a worn chest of drawers and want to throw them out whilst others might see it as an opportunity to get arty and messy and create a totally unique piece of furniture.

This website is full of cool and inspirational ideas that will help you make the old look new again.

Last-minute decorating

In an ideal world, we would all be living life like extras in an inspirational M&S advert but that is not reality. Sometimes your kids might go a bit crazy with the pen, your in-laws have decided to pay you a last-minute visit or you have had a room ruined by some other disaster. If this happens to you, the best thing to do is relax and take stock of the situation.

Remember, you can only do what you can do! Depending on the scale of this issue, you might want to find a reputable decorator that can fix the problem. Unless you are an expert and you need to rush your decorating, then call in a professional. Rated People is a really good website that will help you find the right person for the job.  

Decorating in style – no expense spared!

If you are lucky enough to be in the position where the sky is the limit when it comes to financing your decorating then you can have some serious fun.

Firstly, if your budget allows it, and we are presuming it does as you are reading this section, why not hire an interior designer to take care of things! Houzz is a really good website for inspirational interior ideas and you will also find a list of recommended home design and renovation professionals.

If you enjoy decorating and want to take ownership of the project, you will not be short of blogs, websites and magazines which will help you on your new home mission. Keeping up with current trends has never been easier and if you are the creative type, you can even start your own trends!

Start with Ideal Home – a great source for all things homely and for top decorating trends. Simply type it into Google and start your fun search!