Moretonhampstead garden design - Surveying

First visit and plans

I went round to Olivia's house, and we surveyed the garden together. She explained that she wanted help with making a compost system and with digging a veg patch on one part of the garden. I drew a rough sketch of how the garden was laid out, and asked her what she wanted to grow. She wanted spinach, broad beans, veg and salad stuff, fruit and food that she can harvest quickly.

Back home, all excited about the design, i drew a neat version of the map, then started to put ideas down on the first, rough version. I also listed some of the features of her garden under PMI headings.

Plus Minus Interesting

Sunshine

Suntraps

Pond

Steps

Slugs

Leylandii root sytem

Raised beds

Privet hedge

I then jotted down some wild ideas - raised beds to cut down on annual digging work, which can be made from Larch like the ones i made in the woods; raised cold frames; compost bins near the shed; perennial onions; raise the compost bin on a box shape to aid removal of finished compost; edible flower bed - borage, primroses, nasturtiums,marigolds; potatoes in tyres; water butt collecting water off the shed and caravan roofs.

I overlayed some zones onto the neat map of her garden, and drew out my design ideas in pencil. I decided i needed to ask some more questions, and do a 'proper' client interview. I realised i had not been using any design process and decided to use OBREDIM from now on. I then made a list of the available resources in her garden - they were pond mould, fennel plants, 2 spare doors with windows in, fertilizer and pallets.

Second visit and client interviews

The next time i went over to work in her garden i asked her the new questions, a lot of which i lifted straight from the client interview form from the Design Course that Devin had taught at Steward Wood in 2003, and ran through the questions with Olivia.

Questions from standard client interview

Customised questions
People and relationships - Family of 3, plus a neighbour working in a caravan office in the garden.

What stage would you like the garden to get to before i stop helping? - Fully dug and planted.

Occupations and skills - family contains an artist, a sailor and a schoolboy

Garden aspect - South facing

What would you like to be harvesting and eating? - Salads, lettuces, potatoes, spinach and spinach substitutes, strawberries, chives, radishes, onion leaves, carrots, broccoli.

Potential catastrophes - frost

How much weeding will you do? - 1-2 hours a week
On site security - good How much sowing wll you do? - Some
Ages - 50's and a teenager

How much mulching will you do?

priorities - composting  
Property size - medium sized garden Are you up for growing potatoes in tyres?- Yes
Known problems - slugs and east wind

Are you interested in raised beds made from larch? - Yes, if not too expensive.

How high would you like the beds to be?- 1 ft.

Available water - pond and taps/hose Does the shed door need to be accessed from the garden? - No, its only used for airing.
Lifestyle - alternative  

I also ran through a mindmap of other vegetables with her that i was familiar with growing, to see which she liked and didn't like. Sadly she wasn't interested in Jerusalem artichokes or unusual salad leaves, which were my low maintenance passions at the time! She did want peas and beans, fennel, perennial kale, rocket, onions, rhubarb, potatoes, raspberries, leaf beet, coriander and parsley. All this time i was also working on digging over and weeding the areas from the design that were going to become vegetable patches.

Research and other synergies

As i mentioned earlier, i was also designing part of my kitchen garden at the same time, so all the research i was putting in for that garden was also useful for Olivia's garden. I was researching planting distances, different plants' sunlight needs and companion planting combinations; I also worked out zones for plants according to how much maintenance/harvesting they needed. This was all transferable to Olivia's garden design, and spare seedlings and plants were switched between the two gardens too.

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