I’m on the hunt for new build garden ideas.
It’s been just over a year since we bought our first ever new build home. Like most new houses, the garden was basically a rectangle of grass, and a patio. We couldn’t include our garden in our new build snagging list, because when I completed on this house, the turf hadn’t even been laid!
When we first moved in, someone advised me to leave the garden be. It was just approaching summer and apparently this is not the best time to plant new things. Rather, they advised me to leave the garden until Spring, which would give me a chance to understand how the light falls, and where gets most light at different times of day, in different seasons.
Our New Build Garden Ideas Wishlist
That made lots of sense and conveniently fitted in with my lack of interest in gardening! It’s been a year and we’re now much more settled than when I did my 3 month house update.
Also, we’re now in lockdown, and might not get a holiday this summer. We might be spending more time in our garden this summer.
So it’s the perfect time to give our new house garden some TLC.
I started by making a wish list for my new build garden, based on my idea of what we’d likely be doing in the garden:
- We wanted a comfortable outside seating area, so we could sit outside in the afternoons
- I wanted to address our back fence to make the garden more private
- Add a little personality with some plants
- (For now) the garden is where my daughter practices hockey while she can’t go to coaching!
- Create some shade and an entertaining space with a pergola and climbing plants
Creating a Seating Area
I know that we’re in lockdown, and like lots of people, I’m on a tight budget right now. I looked around at a lot of furniture sets looking for something that would fit the space without costing too much.
We knew the spot where we wanted seating, and my electrician put in an external double socket so we could use it for lighting, and also for the lawnmower and so on.
At first, all the seating sets I found were way outside my budget. After hunting around, I found some really great affordable garden sofa sets at places like Asda and Aldi. Then I found out that a neighbour owns a garden furniture company and I got a great deal on the sofa seating set above.
This set costs £350 and includes a corner sofa and table. If you like, you can add extra seating modules as needed. It’s perfect for the two of us, along with some wooden chairs my parents donated. I found a cover set in the gardening special event at Aldi for under £20, which was a bonus!
Light my Fire (Pit)
My Mum got me a fire pit for Christmas. It’s this one from Amazon (aff link). It’s perfect because it’s not too large, and easily portable. But it’s good and heavy, and feels very sturdy. It’s the ideal spot for a bit of evening marshmallow toasting.
To help create the right mood, we have arranged fairy lights around the garden, including along the guttering above our seating area. It adds a little more warmth
Like lots of new build gardens, we had fencing with gaps between the boards. The builder told me this is to reduce the risk of wind damage, but I have a feeling it’s also about cost. After all, if you have more gaps, that’s fewer boards you need to buy!
I mean, this sort of fencing gives you no privacy at all!
Our garden backs on to two smaller gardens behind. So for the past year we’ve been able to see the families in the garden behind. More importantly, our dog can see their cats. This means hours of the dog pressing her face against the fence, and barking at anything that moves. We tried some bamboo screening but it’s made no difference.
One of my first new build garden ideas, then? FIX THAT FENCE.
We hired a landscaper to double board the fence at the back of the garden. It is very long (13 metres, or 40 feet) so the timber cost close to £750. Luckily, the fence to our left is the back of another house’s garden, and that neighbour just double boarded the boundary. So we now just have one fence that’s the original, open boards. I can live with that for now!
Planting a New Build Garden
While the landscaper was doing the fencing, he also created a flower bed. He laid sleepers with a raised bed immediately behind. It looks pretty and adds character to the garden. It is also one more barrier between Teddy and the neighbours’ cats! Teddy is devastated, but it’s made a massive difference to the barking.
As with lots of new build gardens, the quality of the soil isn’t amazing in my garden. It’s basically clay, and I think it was quite seriously compacted during construction. I’ve added new topsoil and fertiliser from a local farmer, and the landscaper also dug down to about 25cm to break up the soil and remove building debris.
For planting, I got a lot of cuttings from my Mum, when we dropped off their groceries last week. I picked up some hebe shrubs from Dobbies, along with a few “pot luck” plants from the ‘almost dead but 75% off’ section. Fingers crossed they make it!
It became clear almost right away that I needed some of that edging mini-fence to protect my baby plants. As you can see, the dog thinks the raised bed is an obstacle course. Fingers crossed the plants survive until it gets here!
To add a little more privacy on the remaining fencing, we bought some artificial leaf trellis to sit on the fence between our patio and the neighbour’s patio. I bought two really pretty lemon leaf trellis (aff link) from Amazon and then found two more in the Aldi gardening event. The Aldi ones are great quality if you can find them in stock!
We have woven some fairy lights into the trellis because you can’t have too many fairy lights, if you ask me.
The Pergola Project
At the moment funds don’t really cover a pergola, and my regular gardener is currently in isolation after his daughter caught Covid-19. It’s probably something we’ll revisit towards the back end of the year.
But I would love to have something like this – which is actually my lovely next door neighbour’s fabulous garden. It gives me major garden envy!
I would put our pergola along the opposite side fence, and make it a little smaller, though. I want the pergola to be away from the kitchen doors, which will give us a second seating area. I’d also like to add a path through the garden, and I’ve a yearning to add a tree somewhere.
I am looking forward to planning the next stage of my garden. I think having a new build house actually gives you scope to try things out more than I could in my older, period properties. I just need more inspo – if you know any great sites I should look at, let me know in the comments!
New Build Garden Ideas: Top Tips
I’ve learned quite a bit over the past few months about garden planning in a new build house. Here are my top tips:
- Adding aromatic plants can add personality to a new build garden. Try things like jasmine or azalea.
- If you extend the patio, ask your landscaper to check the existing patio is adequately laid, and slopes away from the house allowing water to run off into proper drainage.
- If you have clay soil in the garden it will compact during construction. Take extra time to dig and turn over the soil. Dig down at least 25cm to break up the soil and remove building debris. Always look at ways to add nutrients to the soil in a new build house garden.
- If you have large grass areas, like we do, the lawn might need some TLC. Builders don’t always lay the BEST turf, and they don’t always adequately prepare the soil underneath. We hired someone to come and treat the lawn in the autumn, but in major cases, you might want to lift the turf, prepare the soil, and relay the grass.
- When you’re choosing plants, check on the RHS Plant Selector site to get ideas for what will work well in different positions and soil types.