Sunday, 4 February 2018

Urban Garden Design, Worsley, Greater Manchester, By David Keegan Garden Design


Garden Design Project Boothstown, Worsley


Question: what do you do when commissioned by clients, one of whom is unfortunately suffering from a degenerative and incurable eye disease? Hopefully this garden design answers those questions and in doing so provides a usable and easily navigable garden space.


Garden as first viewed looking away from house



Garden as first viewed looking back to house


The build on this garden design project only finished in late December 2017 what with the weather being so bad since this was the first opportunity I have had to revisit. Although the plants may not look like much now this garden should really take off and fill with colour over the coming spring and summer months. Although the witch hazel is adding a nice burst of colour just now. The bamboo screening to the rear raised bed will be one plant that is definitely enjoying all the rain we are currently experiencing and it should pay off with good new upright stem growth over the months to come. This variety is particularly good for small gardens where planted into raised beds, or into the ground level beds, as unlike many bamboos it will not spread, run, or become invasive, as it is a well behaved clump former, Fargesia nitida a native of Szechwan, China. Further detail here, a small area to the secondary back door/utility room  seemed wasted garden space, but provided the perfect opportunity to create a screened storage are thereby making best use of the space. For a seamless look I designed a seamless screen with an inset flush door. Timbers for both the decking and screening is American yellow pine a suitable and good alternative to hardwoods which I do not use in my projects due to the destruction of rain-forests and wildlife habitat as a consequence. That said, there are some fabulous new composite products coming onto the market and one in particular which I am very excited by, more on that in my next part 2 blog post on decking in general. The sleepers used are constructed of European oak for longevity and patina and are from an FSC sustainable source. 


View across the recently finished garden

Design detail inset seat and raised bed 

Handmade inset seat

Witch hazel in flower adds some welcome colour to the winter garden

Texture and surface is a detail that many will take for granted or may not even be consciously aware of where as this garden it was a significant deign consideration due to one of the clients limited eyesight. To assist the client in navigating the space elements are designed with clear focus of movement, texture and level to make it easy to identity a change in either direction or material or areas hence the edging detail is a bush hammered granite whilst the main paving is a flame hammered finish. There is also a tonal shade difference between a pale grey stone and the charcoal edging stone and these details and colours chosen in consultation with the client in order to best maximise the use of her limited eyesight. Equally the garden was designed to create one uniform level running from the French doors of the house to the lawn and rear paved terrace area. The small terrace area and inset seat to the raised bed are positioned to take advantage of the late afternoon and evening sunshine. Planting is a combination of strongly textured and scented silvers grey and purples, again to make the most of a heighted sense of smell.

Design detail granite paving: flame hammered grey paving and bush hammered black  edging details.

Design detail screed area for garden storage 

Design detail inset flush gate and screen.

I will update the blog post in this garden later in the spring early summer when the plants should have started to fill out and add to the colours and textures of this garden.

One of two adorable chocolate brown Labradors clients pets.

This project  hopefully demonstrates that a small garden in a new build house does not have to be limited as well as what can be achieved with some careful design and a good choices of material and plants.

All pictures and content and designs are the copyrighted property of David Keegan © 2018















Tuesday, 9 January 2018

All Decked Out: An article by a Garden Designer on Decking


Article 1:

DIY store bought decking and its impact on client perceptions of decking in general.


It may only be early January but many will already be looking at their gardens and making plans. It may be the result of a long held desire, or resolution, to improve the quality and liveability of an outdoor space, or as the result of home renovations.Over the coming few months I will be writing a series of short blog posts on decking in all its forms, pros and cons 

Blog post one store bought decking and its impact on client perceptions:

Whatever the primary motivation now is the perfect time to start looking at making plans for improving that garden space particularly if you intend on a redesign that will involve a garden designer and a landscaping team to achieve that change in time for this coming summer.

Which brings me onto the main topic of this blog post; decking.

As a garden designer I am often asked about decking, many times in a rather negative way to begin with. Why you may ask, and the simple answer, the many misconceptions surrounding the use of decking that arise during my consultation and design processes with almost every client. The comments made by most is, that decking is difficult to maintain and look after and gets slippery, to which I answer, no its not slippy, or hard to look after if installed correctly and this is where bug bear number one arises. The myth that the grooved side of the deck board is laid facing upwards for ease of drainage. Now I cannot think of one piece of misinformation that has done more harm to the image of decking than this and it’s largely down to the bigger DIY chains, mentioning no names here, but the B in the name of one could be used to describe a different word in reaction.

Sample piece grooved softwood decking board


So let’s clear up this simple, but misleading info, the groves on the deck board are not meant to be laid skyward, but face down, and are there to assist with expansion and contraction preventing the boards from warping and bending. This type of standard readily available decking is manufactured from fast grown, cheap, chemically treated softwood timbers which are more prone to excessive movement, hence the need for grooving to counteract this movement. By laying the board’s grove side up you are in fact creating the perfect environment for water pooling and algal growth, hence decking in general gets a bad name for being slippy and unstable. This slippy and unstable element is the human who displays the boards incorrectly and the human who purchases and install the boards incorrectly.

Deck sample boards laid groove side up


Solution, if buying this type of decking boards laying them correctly to begin with will not only increase the stability of the product but also its longevity. Boards laid smooth side up are also easier to treat for algae and can be simply oiled with a couple coats of Danish oil twice a year.


Below is a sample of one my recent projects where decking is used to provide a convenient and trouble free outdoor dining and seating area.

A recent garden design project with smooth board decking. 


A feature on decking in the UK by David Keegan Garden Design.