In conversation with Tanya from the Weekend Garden Party podcast
A few weeks ago, I had a lovely chat with Tanya on all things garden! She gave me some brilliant ideas on what I could be doing in the garden right now to get it ready for spring. With the opportunity to invite friends and family into our gardens from the end of March, her fantastic practical tips on garden design, and where best to put your patio, seem especially useful right now. Listen to our chat in full on Instagram - and make sure to follow Tanya at @tanyascountrygarden or @weekendgardenparty.
How will you use your garden patio?
An obvious question, but easy to overlook in the excitement of design ideas and Pinterest! You really must sit down and think about what you want from your garden, Tanya says. Do you want somewhere for the children to play; do you do lots of entertaining? Don’t forget the practical things – do you need somewhere for the bins; do you want to be able to hang your washing out? Boring though they may be, they need to fit into your garden too!
Plan and measure
Tempted to go by eye and wing it? This really isn’t the time for that! Tanya recommends a big tape measure, some graph paper, and then getting outside to measure exactly how big your space is. Plot it on the paper and properly look at it – the clarity of seeing what shape your garden actually is can be enlightening (and it’s often not the rectangle you think it is!)
Find your viewing angles
Stand in your house: where are your patio doors; where are the windows and the places you look out from? What sort of person are you – do you like symmetry or will you enjoy looking out from an upstairs window on something more organic? You’re unlikely to have the garden looking perfect from every angle Tanya warns, but it’s useful to think about what’s most important to you – especially when considering where you might put your patio.
Don’t ignore the neighbours
Is there anything you would like to ‘borrow’ from your neighbours’ gardens to enhance or extend your view – like a beautiful apple tree perhaps? Or do you just want to ensure that your patio is truly away and screened from the neighbours - without completely boxing yourself in?
Where’s the sun?
Be sure you know how the sun lights your garden across the year. The evening light might be down the bottom of the garden in the long summer evenings, in which case that’s where you want your gin & tonic table – rather than right next to the house, where a patio is traditionally placed. And don’t forget to put in a path over the grass Tanya says, or you’ll have a truly crummy lawn! I reminded Tanya that, if she really wanted to follow the sun around her garden, then bean bag chairs are (of course) the way to do it. One hand for your book, one for your G&T, and your bean bag lounger over your shoulder!
Make sure to add the position of the sun, and all your preferred viewing angles, onto your mapped out garden. Looking down onto the graph paper, without anything else there, is the easiest way to plan out your patio and outdoor space. You might even decide that it’s actually your front garden where you’ll want to be for a cup of coffee in the sunshine. If you think about these things, and how and when you’ll use your patio, the design will take care of itself!
Where would you take your garden bean bag?
We finished off with finding out which garden Tanya likes to sit and relax in:
“A private garden I visit up in North Yorkshire - a gardener’s garden but one where grandchildren race around too. A garden where everywhere you look is a photograph. Every view that you take has a little bench at the bottom, or an archway that you can see through, or a door that is slightly open. Every element is beautiful - I would love a garden like that!”
Follow Tanya at @tanyascountrygarden on Instagram, or at the @weekendgardenparty. Listen to Tanya, with her friends Sophie and Helier, on the Weekend Garden Party podcast.