Scottish garden design tips: make the most of your outdoors

scottish garden design tips

Create a usable outdoor space even in the unreliable Glasgow weather

Scottish garden design can be a challenge. When it’s not raining, it’s dark and cold. Moss eats your lawn and mould slimes your pavers. The wind knocks over your potted plants and sitting outside in the driech weather seems futile, if not downright crazy. So how can you actually create garden rooms in Glasgow and the west of Scotland that aren’t a waste of time and money? Here are some tips to get you that extra space you’ve been seeking.

Find your sun

You first need to know where your light and shade are in the garden. What time of day a patch of soil gets the most sun can make the difference between a healthy flower bed, or a swamp. Look for natural clues, like the appearance of moss and how dry the soil is after a day or two of sun. Knowing this will help guide your planting.

Natural shelter

Topiary and hedging not only add privacy but can help block the effects of prevailing winds. Create a cosy microclimate with the shelter provided by coniferous hedges and other thick, bushy plants. Beware that you don’t shade the neighbours, if you want a peaceful life, though! And watch out for shading your other planting and good sitting spots.

Get tough

Native plants such as heather are naturally ideal for the Scottish garden. Bog myrtle (a much prettier shrub than the name sounds) not only deals with wet soil, it is also reputed to repel midges! More exotic ornamental grasses can stand up well too. The wind whistles right through these low-maintenance plants without much of a problem. Check that your soil’s pH and drainage suit whichever you choose, of course.

Create an alcove or two

Using small niches to provide a dry or sheltered part of your Scottish garden will increase your likelihood of wanting to spend time out there. Create these spaces with tall planting, awnings, large garden umbrellas, or even brick and stone walls (where you have permission to do so). Have a cushiony seat or a portable firepit nearby for comfort and warmth.

The path of least resistance

Make sure it’s hassle-free to get into your garden. If you have a nice little spot that you would like to go and drink your coffee in the morning sun, make sure you can get to it easily. If you have to open a sticky door or manoeuvre around abandoned toys your kids have dropped, or walk across the soggy grass, you’re going to feel less inclined to go out. Clear the path, and ensure your feet stay dry all the way to your little patch of heaven!

A small Scottish garden can be beautiful too

Even if you only have a little yard to call your own, you can make it a useful and relaxing space. Look for a small wooden table and chairs, and use some cunning tricks, like a large mirror to bounce light around and make it look bigger. But remember to get covers or a box to store any furniture that is likely to suffer from the damp or rain.

Know thyself

This is the most important Scottish garden design tip of all!

It’s all very well and good to have plans, but if you don’t keep up with the maintenance, your garden can look sad and neglected all too soon. So, if mowing the lawn every Sunday isn’t your thing, get a low-maintenance alternative, like gravel or a wildflower meadow instead. If you’re a fair-weather gardener, don’t get plants that require lots of pruning and care, opt for a resilient and easy option instead.

Ask your local garden centre for advice and don’t forget to check out for interesting deals on plants and outdoor furniture.

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