The Structural Importance of Trees in Garden Design 

Don’t be afraid of planting a tree in a small garden. Well positioned trees for small gardens can add enormous value to the space. They provide structural permanence, acting as pillars of the garden or the bones around which, the softer, fluffy, colourful floral display can express itself.

Trees add extra layers to the space. We have a tendency to look down, but trees encourage you to look up. Much like a mini rainforest they provide the canopy layer, creating mini-micro climates beneath and therefore more variation and opportunities for diverse planting and habitat creation.

Providing Shade, Shelter, and Environmental Benefits

When visiting a small garden for the first time, often my eye is immediately drawn to the boundaries. This is particularly the case when it is a new build garden, with a token patio and a patch of turf that has been laid over compacted ground. The space lacks life. A well-positioned tree can draw your eye away from the boundaries of the garden, and link to the wider landscape, which helps to make the space feel bigger, learn more about our approach to planting design.

Trees provide valuable shade and shelter. They have a cooling effect which is incredibly important for our increasingly dry summers. They help to absorb water run-off during our wet winters and create valuable stability to our precious soil. Trees filter and absorb wind and sound, rather than creating eddies, which is when the wind encounters a solid object such as a fence. Fences are abundant in small gardens on new build estates.

Selecting Tree Varieties for Enhanced Planting Design

Trees come in many different shapes and sizes. Before choosing your tree consider the weight of the tree canopy, whether it will provide dense shade or screening, dappled shade or bold dramatic foliage, which can be particularly effective in a small space.

Trees can add interest at different times of the year. Spring blossom of Crab apples and Amelanchier paired with the fruits and leaf colour in the Autumn are wonderful. Bold leaves of Cercis canadensis (pictured in top image) and Acer palmatum, both pictured below, can add drama to a small space.

Acer palmatum

Multi stemmed trees can provide beautiful winter structure with interesting bark such as the copper tones of Prunus serrula and Acer griseum and the smooth bark of Amelanchier, which looks wonderful when illuminated. Cornus kousa species (Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’ pictured) add beautiful colour from their flower bracts and fruits.




Feathered trees give a columnar effect, with branches breaking from the base upwards. These are ideal if you want to create a pillar effect with the planting. Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) are useful for this.

A standard (clear stem) tree allows you to walk underneath the canopy and provides screening higher up, useful for screening neighbouring windows.

A pleached or espalier specimen is essentially an aerial hedge on a clear stem which is useful for screening in a small space. Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) is commonly used, Malus (crab apple) and Pyrus (ornamental Pear) species are deciduous but add the benefits of a spring floral display and autumn leaf colour and fruits.

A parasol trained tree, (Liquidambar pictured), is similar to a pleached tree but is trained to grow as a roof, providing shade over a seating area. It is effective where space is tight but requires some skilled pruning and training.



Selecting Tree Varieties for Enhanced Planting Design

There are site specific considerations which need to be made, which will impact on how the tree will thrive. Assess the conditions first. Exposure to wind/salt laden air, soil ph. & structure i.e. clay, sand, chalk, loam are important factors. Look in neighbouring gardens to see what thrives there or contact us for a garden consultation and advice. Adding water features to a garden is also a brilliant way to improve garden biodiversity, you can learn more here.

As we know, trees are life. They produce the oxygen we need to breathe, filtering the air. They provide nesting opportunities, food sources for humans and our wildlife friends. Too often trees are removed, mostly because we have built too close to them, or the wrong tree has been planted in the first place. With careful consideration we can add more trees to benefit us and our wider environment.

Water enhances any garden space. It adds atmosphere, provides interesting reflections, and creates sound to muffle noises beyond the boundaries of the garden. Water is guaranteed to improve the biodiversity in the garden. Attracting birds, bees and insects, not to mention our amphibious friends. Frogs are a gardener’s friend, addressing the balance as natural predators, keeping the slug and snail populations down. This blog covers the ways you can utilise water to create eco-friendly garden design.

Should I add a water feature to my garden?

When planning your water feature, it’s important to consider the size and scale of your garden. A small courtyard might benefit from a small water bowl or a wall-mounted fountain, while a larger garden can accommodate a larger and more elaborate feature. It’s also important to consider the maintenance and upkeep of your water feature, as some designs may require more regular cleaning and maintenance.

In addition to the aesthetic benefits, water features also have practical uses in the garden. They can provide a source of water for birds and other wildlife, especially during dry periods. They can also help to cool the surrounding area, making your garden a more comfortable place to spend time during hot summer months. Learn more about creating a sustainable wildlife garden.


Water Features Garden Design

Contemporary waterfall incorporating a series of Corten steel pools and waterfalls.

The different types of water features

There are many options for bodies of water in the garden. From elaborate tiered water fountains and water cascades to self contained water features or a simple water bowl. They all contribute to the wildlife credentials in the garden.

Water walls are a popular choice for modern gardens. They can be made from a variety of materials such as glass, stone, or metal. The water flows down the wall, creating a soothing sound and a visually striking feature. They can be installed as a standalone piece or incorporated into a larger water feature. Follow this link to see our water feature garden, a contemporary waterfall incorporating a series of Corten steel pools and waterfalls. 

Cascades are another option for adding water to your garden. They can be designed to fit into any space, whether it’s a small corner or a large open area. The water flows down a series of steps or rocks, creating a beautiful and natural-looking waterfall effect. Cascades can be made from natural stone or artificial materials, depending on your preference and budget.

If you prefer a more traditional look, a fountain might be the perfect choice for your garden. Fountains come in a variety of styles, see this link to our wedding and Events venue for the Tunbridge 3 tier classical Portland Stone fountain design. The imposing Georgian Manor House complements the classical style and Portland stone in keeping with vernacular materials.  Fountains can be made from stone, concrete, or even metal. Fountains can be a focal point in your garden, attracting attention and depending on size and scale, creating a sense of tranquillity and/or excitement.


water feature for planting design

Should I add a water feature to my garden?

Instead of draining boggy or water logged areas in the garden, you can create a bog garden, providing a valuable habitat. Utilising a seasonal wetland, enables planting of dramatic foliage plants such as Gunnera and Rodgersia, winter stems of Salix and Cornus species. These species are amazing for enhancing your planting design deep into the winter months, our December blog covers this topic in detail. If you don’t have a naturally damp area in the garden, artificial bog gardens can be created by digging a hole and installing a butyl liner, then creating some perforations to allow water to slowly dissipate. Add soil back into the hole along with organic matter.




Overall, adding water to your garden can enhance its beauty, attract wildlife, and create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Whether you choose a simple water bowl or a more elaborate fountain or cascade, incorporating water into your garden design is sure to bring diversity and tranquillity to your outdoor space.

Contact us now 07834 233 343, we can assist you with your garden design,

As we enter a new year, many of us are looking for ways to improve our wellbeing and find moments of peace and tranquillity in our busy lives. One often overlooked but incredibly rewarding way to achieve this is through spending time in the garden. Whether you have a sprawling plot, a small balcony or are involved with a local Community Garden, there are countless opportunities to practice mindfulness and wellbeing in the garden.

Burn Calories Through Gardening

One of the great benefits of having a garden is the opportunity to keep fit and exercise without having to step foot in a gym. Gardening is a fantastic way to get moving and burn calories while also enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. From digging and planting to weeding and pruning, there are endless physical tasks that can be done in the garden that will not only give you a workout but also leave you with a sense of accomplishment.

New Years Resolution: Connect with your Garden

As the new year begins, it’s the perfect time to make resolutions for your garden. Take some time to plan and envision what you want your garden to look like in the year/s ahead. Consider what plants you want to grow, any new features you want to add, and any changes you want to make to improve the overall design. By setting goals for your garden, you’ll have something to work towards and a sense of purpose when you step outside.

One of the most powerful aspects of spending time in the garden is the connection it provides with nature. There is something incredibly grounding and peaceful about getting your hands in the earth and working with the plants and soil. It’s a reminder of our place in the natural world and has been proven to alleviate stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase overall well-being. Just last week, a friendly Robin landed on my boot while I was mulching an area of the garden, reminding me of the beauty and wonder that can be found in even the smallest of moments. By dedicating time to the garden, we prioritise self-care and create space for relaxation and rejuvenation.

How Your Garden is an Opportunity for Self Care

Even in the winter months, there are still plenty of tasks to be done in the garden, if you need inspiration for winter garden design, read our last blog here. One important activity to consider is winter mulching. This process helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and protect plants from harsh weather conditions. By taking the time to mulch your garden, you are not only caring for your plants but also creating a sense of order and renewal in your outdoor space.

Another way to connect with nature in your garden is by hanging bird feeders. Not only will this provide food for our feathered friends during the colder months, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity to observe and appreciate the wildlife that visits your garden. Watching birds’ flit around and feed can be incredibly calming and can help to foster a sense of connection with the natural world.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of simply sitting in your garden and taking it all in. Whether it’s a warm summer day or a chilly winter morning, find a cozy spot, wrap up in a blanket, and sit with a cup of coffee or tea. Observe the changing light, listen to the sounds of nature, and allow yourself to relax and reset. Taking this time for yourself in the garden can be incredibly rejuvenating and can help to improve your overall wellbeing.


So, as we embark on a new year, make a commitment to make the most of your garden, no matter the size or location. Whether it’s through physical activity, planning and goal-setting, connecting with nature, or simply taking time to relax and observe, your garden has the potential to be a sanctuary for mindfulness and wellbeing. Embrace the opportunity to create a new year, new garden, and reap the benefits that come with it, for garden inspiration, view our selected works.

Contact us now 07834 233 343, we can assist you with your garden design,

These short days and dark evenings may seem like a dormant time for gardens, but it is actually a crucial period for garden and planting design. Assessing what a garden needs in the winter cannot be underestimated, as continued planting design provides the structure for a garden’s overall aesthetic. Without the distraction of vibrant blooms and lush foliage, the winter garden reveals the true layout of its design.

When visiting a new garden design commission, it is advantageous to see it during the quiet of winter. Winter is the perfect time to observe a garden’s structure or lack thereof, without the busy froth of spring and summer. It is during this time that you can truly see the wood from the trees and see the space for what it truly is. We encourage sustainability in every project, view our sustainable sandbanks garden project here.

Winter Garden Design

The Perfect Plants for Winter Weather

One of the most captivating aspects of the winter garden is the presence of frost. Delicate ice crystals can cover the leaves of plants such as Pittosporum and Azalea, highlighting their edges and adding a touch of beauty. Ballotta leaves for example, when covered in frost, come to life in a visual display. Seed heads of plants like Phlomis, Verbena, Monarda, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia provide interesting textures and shapes. Ornamental grasses, such as Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ provide movement and are a valuable addition to the palette for planting design in the winter garden.

Evergreen plants play a vital role in winter. Sarcococca and Daphne, with their fragrant blooms, can be strategically positioned near doorways to provide a delightful waft of scent throughout the garden. These evergreen plants not only contribute to the overall structure of the garden but also provide a sensory experience for visitors.

Leaving perennial plants in the garden during winter is also crucial for maintaining structure. Plant

s such as Phlomis, Echinacea, and Astilbe may not be in full bloom during this time, but their architectural forms add interest and texture to the garden. These perennials also provide habitat and food sources for wildlife, further enhancing the garden’s ecological value.

Cultivating a Wildlife Garden in the Winter

Winter berries are another essential element of planting design in the winter garden. Plants like Holly, Cotoneaster, and Euonymus (spindle) produce vibrant berries that can provide a pop of colour against the muted winter landscape. These berries also serve as a valuable food source for wildlife, attracting birds and other animals to the garden. Additionally, shrubs and trees such as Hazel and Garrya display elegant catkins, adding an extra layer of interest and texture. To encourage wildlife to flourish, check out our last blog, where you can find the top 10 tips for developing a wildlife garden.

Winter bulbs, such as Cyclamen and Snowdrops, offer a burst of colour and life during the colder months. These delicate flowers emerge from the earth, defying the harsh conditions and signalling the imminent arrival of spring. Snowdrops, Crocus, and Iris reticulata are particularly cheery enchanting, dotting the garden with their vibrant hues and signs of life emerging.

The Importance of Winter Garden Design

There is something truly magical about the reset and seemingly quiet time in the garden during winter. It is a time to appreciate the last remaining rose, without the busyness of spring and summer. It is a time of anticipation for the coming season, as plants begin to rise from the earth. Snowdrops, crocus, and iris reticulata are just a few examples of the plants that herald the arrival of spring, reminding us of the cyclical nature of the garden. It is also a time to assess what your garden needs and how you can best optimise the space for the next season.

In conclusion, garden and planting design is of utmost importance throughout the winter. The winter provides the perfect opportunity to assess your garden design. From frost-kissed leaves to winter berries and scented flowers, winter can provide an opportunity to create a unique space.

Click here to see more images on the website. Contact us now 07834 233 343, we can assist you with your garden design,

Autumn in your garden means embracing simplicity and finding joy in nature. It’s the season of cosy jumpers, hot drinks, and the satisfying crunch of leaves underfoot. Your wildlife garden can become a haven of simple pleasures – watching birds flock to feeders, observing squirrels busily gathering nuts, and enjoying the earthy scent of damp soil.

Creating a wildlife garden in the autumn will not only add vibrant hues to your outdoor space but also contribute significantly to the ecosystem. By adopting sustainable practices and embracing the natural cycle of the season, you can transform your garden into a haven for various creatures, enhancing biodiversity and fostering a harmonious environment. View our recent project in Sandbanks, where we transformed a garden into a sustainable haven.

How to craft the perfect wildlife garden.

In this guide, we’ll explore essential steps to make your garden more inviting for wildlife, emphasising the principles of a sustainable and eco-friendly wildlife garden. To find more about Noscoe Garden Design’s wildlife garden services, click here.

There are specific steps you can take to make your garden even more inviting for wildlife and increase biodiversity:

  1. Leave seed heads and plant stems: Resist the urge to tidy. Instead of cutting back all the plants, leave seed heads standing. They provide valuable food sources and shelter for birds and insects during the colder months.
  2. Provide water sources: Place shallow dishes or bird baths in your garden to provide water for birds and other wildlife. Make sure to keep them clean and filled regularly.
  3. Create a compost pile: Autumn is a great time to start a compost pile with fallen leaves and garden waste. This not only reduces waste but also attracts insects and other decomposers, which in turn provide food for birds and other wildlife.
  4. Install bird feeders: Set up bird feeders filled with seeds and nuts. This will attract a variety of bird species to your garden, providing entertainment and food for them.
  5. Plant native trees and shrubs: Choose native trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter for wildlife. Species such as Prunus (cherry), Malus (crab apple), and Crataegus (hawthorn) are great options for attracting birds and insects.
  6. Create habitat piles: Stack logs, branches, and leaves in a corner of your wildlife garden to create a habitat pile. This provides valuable shelter for insects, small mammals, and amphibians.
  7. Plant late-blooming flowers: Include later flowering plants in your garden to provide nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Examples include Aster, Hylotelephium (sedums), Verbena and Salvia ‘Amistad’.
  8. Avoid chemical pesticides: Instead of using chemical pesticides, opt for natural pest control methods such as companion planting, beneficial insects, and handpicking pests. This helps maintain a healthy ecosystem in your garden.
  9. Provide nesting boxes: Install bird boxes, bat boxes, and insect hotels to provide nesting sites for different species. Make sure they are placed in suitable locations and maintained properly.
  10. Maintain a diverse garden structure: Keep a mix of different plant heights and structures in your garden, including trees, shrubs, and groundcover. This provides varied habitats for wildlife.

Incorporating these tips into your gardening routine transforms your space into a thriving wildlife garden. By nurturing a sustainable garden, you not only provide a safe habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife but also contribute to the overall health of the environment. Read more about sustainable gardening from the Royal Horticultural Society here.



Eco-Friendly Garden Practices

Embracing eco-friendly practices not only enhances the beauty of your garden but also plays a vital role in preserving our planet’s biodiversity.

Simple eco-friendly practices can make a significant difference. Consider composting your garden waste, turning it into nutrient-rich soil that reduces the need for chemical fertilisers. Opt for natural pest control methods, avoiding harmful pesticides, and encouraging beneficial insects to thrive. Collect rainwater to water your plants, conserving this precious resource. Planting native species not only attracts local wildlife but also requires less water and maintenance, reducing your ecological footprint. Learn more about our approach to gardening.

By adopting these eco-friendly habits, your garden becomes a testament to the harmony between humans and nature, creating a greener, more sustainable tomorrow for all.

So, go ahead, create your wildlife haven this autumn, and revel in the joy of observing nature flourish in your very own eco garden.



Click here to see more images on the website. Contact us now 07834 233 343, we can assist you with your dream garden,

Reuse, recycle, repurpose. At the core of many of our designs, this garden was no exception.

Small but full of character, this sustainable Sandbanks garden has been transformed from a stark, soulless car park to a soft, lush garden full of life. The garden serves as a retreat away from the hubbub of busy beaches, buckets and spades.

The front garden was previously a driveway and expanse of block paving with a low wall to delineate the exposed seating area. Now, still with ample parking, we have created this sustainable Sandbanks Garden. We lifted sections of block paving to create generous borders on either side of a newly laid section of clay pavers to lead you to the front door. To understand our approach further, click here.

Paving was lifted either side of the front door to soften the façade of the house with planting. The majority of the existing limestone paving remains but is enhanced by the contrast in colour and texture with the dark grey clay pavers.


The old timber sleepers from the driveway raised beds were repurposed as stepping stones through shingles. The shingle that has been reused previously served as a border mulch. Tough plants such as Sea thrift, Alchemilla erythropoda and Erigeron were planted into the shingle to add to the bare foot sensory experience.

We rehomed many of the client’s existing plants brought with them from their previous homes and added many other plants to create an immersive, wildlife-rich planting scheme. The planting envelops the multiple seating areas, to maximise the sun. We have used visual screens of frothy, light planting to break up the areas and encompass the multiple seating spaces.

To the rear of the property sits a secluded courtyard garden, complete with a bespoke pergola. The timber pergola is partially covered, to house water sports kit such as paddle boards, etc., but also provides sheltered seating under the Cedar shingle roof.

Stark rendered walls were knocked down and slabs of limestone were lifted to soften the expanse of paving and accommodate pockets of robust planting. Walls have been painted with warm tones of terracotta which contrast beautifully with the plants and black painted timber cladding.

Timber sleeper stepping stones through shingle have been salvaged, linking materials to the front garden. Bamboo screening on the walls remains. Climbers scramble over the pergola and walls, including prolific Akebia quinata and Trachelospermum jasminoides for the wonderful scent. Pleached hornbeam trees provide privacy from overlooking buildings and create a sense of seclusion.

This sustainable garden in Sandbanks has employed a light tough approach.

We’ve reused, recycled and repurposed materials where possible, with the addition of well-placed features to address the balance of hard and soft elements. The courtyard gardens have been transformed into welcoming spaces for homeowners and wildlife alike.

Click here to see more images on my website. Contact us now 07834 233 343