December may not seem a natural time to plan a new garden, if you live in northern climes. But if you’ve just moved house or want to ring changes, it’s a great time to sit down with a mug of coffee and a notebook – and plan before you plant

Here are a few Down to Earth tips, based on experience!

Feel the width.

phormium tenax
Phormium tenax can reach 2 metres or more

Before merrily sticking something into what seems like a nice spot, or is just a hole that needs filling, consider what that sweet little specimen will grow into. You know a cute puppy may grow up to be the size of pony; you know conifers can grow to become neighbourhood disputes. But check the ‘final height/spread’ of every other plant you buy, too, before placing it somewhere you’ll one day regret.

A mind of their own.

“This is the plant bed” is a concept plants get, up to a point. The point being they don’t care where they grow. My raspberry canes provide a lovely crop through the summer and into the autumn. This includes the ones in the raspberry bed, the ones self-sown in the middle of the patio, but not yet the ones self-sown under the steps (see main picture).

Pets. Is an angram of ‘pest’.

I love my dog. The neighbours’ cats look adorable. These feelings are stretched every time I find myself having to fortify bits of the garden to keep them from digging up newly planted potatoes, or turning a flourishing young shrub into a stick.

Driven crazy.

paviour driveway
Weeds love gaps in paviours

If you employ people to replace your driveway with a pretty-looking surface, see if it’s one that is sealed. Those paviours may look to be tight together, but weed seeds laugh at such obstacles. While you’re at it – you might also want to research if the surface is ok in winter, or you nice new driveway may at times double up as a skating rink.

You can find more new-garden tips here. And here.


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