Labour Saving Garden Ideas: Paved Gardens

One often hears a reluctant gardener, surveying his new site, declare: ‘I’m going to concrete the lot.’ But that really isn’t as anti-gardening as it may sound; though it should be emphasised at the outset that raw concrete should definitely not be used for covering any major area of the garden.

It is far too permanent and you must allow for a change of mind later — either by yourself or a future occupier of your home. The best choice for paved gardens is coloured slabs. A large expanse of paving will tend to throw up the colours and it is wise to choose the more subdued colours.

Crazy paving can also be used but again this tends to be a rather permanent arrangement in view of the amount of concrete and base materials that will be needed to firm the area off.

Paved gardens are particularly suitable for smaller town gardens, or to front gardens with an island cut out for planting; or it can replace a lawn in the planning scheme of a larger garden and still blend pleasantly with the overall design scheme.

The design of your paved garden will naturally be an open one with perhaps several areas of ground left unpaved for island beds of shrubs and conifers, according to overall dimensions.

You can also have a wide range of containers and container-grown specimens. These will provide complete versatility, lending themselves to grouping in mass arrangements, siting individually on a repetitive basis to highlight a particular aspect and enabling you to give your garden a constantly changing face.

It is still worth leaving a fair expanse of border around the paved area if this is possible so that you can plant out trees and shrubs that will clothe unsightly walls and fences and give your garden some outline and depth. If a border is not possible, revert back to container-grown subjects, which can be used for similar effect.

Shaped paved gardens can look attractive, though in general it is difficult to overcome the formal squared-off look that slabs will present. Indeed, your garden situation may well lend itself to an entirely formal design.

Crazy paving is more suited to shaping and informality, though this must be a matter of choice, bearing in mind the permanence of most forms of crazy paving.

The design possibilities are really endless but, as with all other types of garden design, try to establish a central feature that will act as a focal point. There are numerous other tricks, such as leaving out the odd slab here and there and planting the ground with heathers or herbs; creating terraces — even artificial ones — to get away from the entirely flat outlook and using tiny edging walls in a material that blends with the choice of paving, either capped or built with a cavity for planting.

There is no reason why the gardener who chooses a paved garden cannot grow fruit trees and set up a mini-orchard. Obviously, this will be possible with cordon fruit in any borders; but where no borders exist the trees can be grown in pots.

There is a good deal to be said for such a plan — because you will have the benefit of a splendid flowering period in spring and the bonus of quality fruit in autumn. And the management of pot-grown fruit trees can be simpler than those grown in the normal way.

One vital point to remember is that pots should be lagged with straw or other suitable material during winter so that the roots do not get frozen. The trees you buy should be four-year old bushes or pyramids on dwarfing stock. Apples and pears are particularly amenable to this form of culture and you might like to try others, such as greengages, plums, peaches and nectarines.

Place apples and pears in the less favourable situations of your garden, saving the warmer areas for the choicer fruits such as greengages, etc. The number of plants you can grow in small areas is surprising. You will need little more than one square yard of floor space to accommodate each tree.

Don’t let the trees bear too much fruit in the first two years. The fruit spurs should be thinned out as they develop. Established pot grown trees will need re-potting every two or three years.

06. September 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Labour Saving Gardens | Tags: | Comments Off on Labour Saving Garden Ideas: Paved Gardens


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