Garden trends - Shabby chic and recycled materials

The world of garden design is seeing a growing shift away from sleek minimalism towards gardens with character and texture, with greater use of recycled materials reflecting growing environmental awareness.

Many designers are trying to reuse existing material wherever possible, whether that means using concrete pavers as a shed base rather than shipping them to landfill, or reusing an existing patio material.  Reclaimed Yorkstone is beautiful but even crazy paving is making a come back and can be laid in exciting new ways.

Recycling wood such as oak floorboards for fencing, sleepers for stepping-stones or old oak for seats and tables, also helps create a more weathered look.  Repurposing items such as old galvanised metal water tanks or troughs for planters or water features is another way of adding quirky vintage focal points.

This ties in with an increasing interest in using materials with texture or pattern such as setts or cobbles and riven stone on their own or to break up areas of paving.  There’s also a move towards softening boundaries between planting and hard landscaping, with plants popping up from gravel or planting pockets in paving.

When it comes to plants, instead of ripping everything out and starting again, there is more of an inclination to move, rescue and prune overgrown shrubs; trees can be coppiced or espaliered and large shrubs like fuchsia can be cloud-pruned.  A friend built her garden around an old apple orchard and whilst there were compromises, the apple trees gave the garden its unique feel.  The mood in garden design is to embrace imperfections and asymmetry – so if your garden isn’t perfect, so much the better!