Garden Design Hertfordshire - Award Winning Landscape Garden Design

Hertfordshire Garden Designer
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Transform your garden with Heartwood Garden Design

Award Winning Garden Designer based in Hertfordshire and the home counties

Welcome to Heartwood Garden Design, a garden design practice led by Judy Shardlow and based in near Harpenden. With over 20 years of design and horticultural experience, we offer expert garden design and advice to create stunning outdoor spaces. 

We have created beautiful, award-winning gardens throughout Hertfordshire and also in London and the home counties and use our skill and experience to translate your ideas into a beautiful and practical garden. 

We put our clients at the heart of the landscape design process, and our instinct for design helps to draw out your brief so that you develop the perfect garden for you. We work throughout Hertfordshire, and many of our gardens are designed for clients in Harpenden, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, but also Chelsea, Wimbledon and other areas of London.

In 2016 Heartwood Garden Design and Harpenden based landscaping company Armstrong Landscapes won a BALI Award (Best Domestic Garden £60-100K category) for a garden designed in Harpenden. Heartwood Garden Design also won an RHS Silver Gilt for a garden designed for BBC Gardener’s World Live in 2014.

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Herts Garden Design Blog

Porcelain patios - beautiful, low maintenance and durable


Porcelain tiles have been around for a while now in landscaping and they're a perfect option for the UK climate particularly if you want to create a seamless 'indoor to outdoor' effect from the house into the garden. Porcelain tiles are fired to very high temperatures making them both extremely hard wearing and impermeable. 

Natural Stone can involve a lot of maintenance

Permeability is an important factor in choosing stone for your patio: cheaper natural stone, like sandstone can be very porous, which means that it can soak up water like a sponge during damp weather, an can subsequently develop algae and staining. Water can also get between the layers that form the stone, and freeze thawing effects can cause delamination, where the top layers of stone start flaking away over time and creating more opportunities for algae to establish. 

Sanstone patios can suffer from algae black spots and need annual pressure washing

Porcelain paving is a good option for north facing patios

For north facing patios or to create a seamless transition between an indoor space and outdoor, porcelain comes into it's own. London Stone offers 22 different options for porcelain at the moment and new options are regularly becoming available. As well as tacking the issue of maintenance, porcelain offers colour consistency that is hard to match with natural stone, as well as a impressive choice of colours and textures.

Wood effect porcelain planks create an attractive decking effect without the maintenance




















Wood effect options include Cinder Porcelain and Rovere Porcelain both of which are both attractive and convincing as wood textures, and create decking effect areas of patio with minimal maintenance. 

The beauty of porcelain is how convincingly it recreates the beautiful natural stone paving that we love. Examples like White Quartz Porcelain from London Stone, have a stunning warm beige multi-tonal colour across the tile, as well as the slightly riven texture that you'd associate with natural stone and for a more contemporary look Silver Contro Porcelain offers stunning silver grey tones with a in a slightly speckled texture, giving it an attractive natural look. 

Image result for golden stone porcelain

Golden Stone Porcelain from London Stone - a beautifully natural look


The other advantage of porcelain is the slab sizes are even and consistent which creates a contemporary look that can match in with the colour and texture of indoor porcelain tiles. Although porcelain is more expensive than riven or sawn Indian sandstone, it's low maintenance features are making it increasingly popular as an outdoor paving option.

Porcelain patios need professional design and build 

Porcelain is not laid in the same way as traditional stone, and they do need to be laid by an landscaper experienced in cutting and laying porcelain. It's also important to think about the overall design. Although individual porcelain paving is around 20-30mm thick, copings and step treads generally need to be thicker, which either means natural stone treads and copings with porcelain paving tiles, or having bespoke porcelain copings and treads made for the project.


Increasingly suppliers are creating coping stones and treads which work alongside their range of porcelain tiles, but it's important to plan carefully when designing a patio.


Find out more about having your new patio designed and built by Heartwood Garden Design by contacting us today.






Drought Conditions - Helping Your Hertfordshire Garden
It's been a tough few weeks for gardens in Hertfordshire. While hot days may be nice for us, hot weather and almost no rainfall can be spell disaster for a a garden. So here are some handy hints to help you manage your garden watering.

First of all - does the garden need watering?
If plants have been in the ground for 5 years or more, there should be no need to irrigate as plants should be well established and able to source water as the root systems will have settled in well. Check the soil too. Dig into the ground with a trowel, if the soil is damp a few inches below the surface level then there is generally no need to water. If the soil is dry at spade depth then watering is needed.

Handy Hints It sounds silly but many people don't know how to water properly and tend to water the foliage of plants rather than directly onto the soil under the leaf canopy. Directing water right towards the base of the plant is the most efficient way to water. If you have a spray gun, use the 'shower' setting to get the right flow of water rather than eroding the soil with a strong blast of water. Watering is best done either early in the morning or in the evening when less water is lost to evaporation in the heat of the day. Watering in the cooler hours really does save on water wastage. Remove any weeds or unwanted plants that are competing for water and nutrients with the plants you actually want to keep. If you've got lots of pots, if possible, move to a shadier position where transpiration rate of the plant will slow down in the darker conditions.
Mulch and work that soil Add a layer of organic matter to the soil if you can. Adding organic matter improves soil structure and moisture retention. This can be applied at any time of year and is vital if planting in the autumn to improve soil structure before the plants are planted. One of the most efficient ways to conserve water and reduce soil temperature around the roots is to mulch. Can’t say it enough - mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulch is best applied on moist soils after planting and watering to a depth of 5cm. Mulch as well as preserving water around the roots of plants also reduces fungal infection on plants from water stress. Mulch can be applied in beds, borders and containers. Keep any mulch away from the plant stems.

Organic Mulch Organic mulch eventually combines with the soil over time increasing organic matter, improving soil structure and moisture retention. Strulch - A light and easy to use garden mulch with a neutral pH lasting up to 2 years. Available in 150L bags Composted Bark. A fine grade composted bark of 0-8mm. Neutral pH. Available in bulk bags, loose and 50L bags. One of our Rhododendron growers recommends the use of composted bark on Rhododendrons. Border Bark. A larger grade bark 8-25mm mix of conifer bark. Great for use on larger beds. Available in bulk bags, loose and 60L bags Bark Pine Mini Mulch. Small neat pine chips perfect for use on smaller beds and to cover soil surfaces in containers. FSC sourced. Available in bulk bags, loose and 70L bags
Irrigation Systems

At the moment there is no hosepipe ban on the horizon, so hoses can still be used to irrigate newly laid lawns and new plantings. There are many choices of hose, nozzles and spray pistols many of which are adjustable to suit the material you are watering. Strong jets tend to misplace soil and reveal roots to the elements thus making root stress even higher and water uptake harder for the plant in the long run. Use a gentle setting to ensure the best water penetration to the soil.
Lawn sprinklers are great for watering large flat areas such as lawns as the name suggests. There are some excellent options on spikes that can be inserted into the lawn or on tripods where the height can be adjusted. Check for coverage when looking at sprinklers - range can vary from 64m2 to 320m2
Drip Irrigation is a great idea for newly installed planting as irrigation sprinklers can be placed directly at the base of the plant reaching the roots effectively and efficiently. Drip irrigation is surprisingly easy to install or you could try one of the starter kits. These are just the thing for containers.
Dripper tube provides a quick, simple and efficient method of watering plants. Each tube / pipe has integrated drippers long the pipe length to deliver water directly where needed. There is also an option for a self-regulating dripper tube that contains a self-regulating mechanism that ensures irrigation is delivered evenly along the length of the tube.
Drip irrigation is most effective when connected to an irrigation timer which can be programmed to deliver water at certain times of day thus eliminating stress and time.
Provender Nurseries are currently running an offer on certain irrigation products. Have a look on this link - Irrigation Offer.
Planting Trees Trees can still be planted at this time of year even under these conditions. We would recommend using a Root Rain Metro or Piddler Tree Irrigation system to get water right down to the roots where needed.
Plant Choice There is a lot to be said for the old saying’ right plant, right place’. If this weather is to continue over the next few years then it may be time to reconsider some plant choices that may make dealing with this kind of weather less stressful. Plant drought tolerant plants. Think Mediterranean / Think Beth Chatto Gravel Garden/ Think Native. Mediterranean plants are used to dealing with dry, hot conditions and as such will require less water to establish. Plants that are native to the UK are also used to adapting to conditions in the UK climate. There is a huge list of plants that will tolerate this hot dry spell including plants such as Lavandula, Cistus, Perovskia, Rosemarinus, many Herbs, Alpines, Geum, Iris, Nepeta, Stipa, Pittosporum, Buddleja, Buxus, Digitalis, Euphorbia,Trachelospermum, Eryngium, Verbascum, Convallaria, Artemisia, Sedum, Erigeron, Sarcococca, Papaver and Osteopsermum will all thrive in hot dry conditions. There are many other choices to select from too.
Plan Ahead Water butts. It may be a little too late for this season but you can install one now ready for use later in the year / next year.
Designing your Hertfordshire garden - why 3-D modelling is so useful

Creating 3-D design models to help explain to customers how a garden design will look when built is an essential service for any good garden designer. Generally a designer will develop a design for a garden as flat plan, rather like the footprint of a house extension design, but seeing how the design works in three dimensions is critical, particularly to convey how changes in level will work or the impact of larger elements like garden rooms, pergolas or even semi-mature trees.


The image above is the modelled version of the image below, which is the 'top plan view' - each gives a completely different perspective of the garden. The 'birds eye' view is useful as it shows the exact layout of the garden and in design terms it can easily be assessed in practical terms, allowing you to see the ratio of hard landscaping to lawn and planted areas very clearly. Both have their place but particularly for this garden, with multiple levels, seeing a model is essential to help a customer appreciate how the level changes proposed for the garden work in practice.

3-D Visualisations are critical to help explain complex level changes or large structures within a garden design

As a tool modelling is also a very good way of helping to make important decisions. Good garden design means making clever and innovative design choices, and modelling allows those choices to be explored in three dimensions. In the flight of steps below, there are two options, either approach the garden at 90 degrees to the house, or at 45 degrees to the house. Each option creates a different space with its own distinct atmosphere and making a choice between which approach to take is made that much easier with modelled options.

Access from the patio to the lawn at 45 degrees to the house and retaining wall - dramatic and contemporary

Access from the patio to the lawn at 90 degrees to the house and retaining wall - a more traditional layout

Modelling is one of the tools that Heartwood Garden Design uses as part of the design process both to make decisions about key three dimensional elements as well as to explain to customers how the garden will look.

And it's not just customers who benefit from the creation of a 3-D model, as part of our design service, landscapers are fully briefed on how to build the garden. This includes a full written specification of hard landscaping materials, construction drawings, drainage plans, setting out plans and bill of quantities. Setting out plans are back to the 'birds eye' view of a garden and give all the dimensions for the how the garden is to be laid out, but giving landscapers the 3-D view of the garden helps to explain key features and level changes particularly well.

Setting out plans explain to landscapers how to build the garden, but a 3-D model is also essential for the landscaping team  if level changes and larger structures form part of the design.

These stages in the design process are key to ensuring a good quality construction of your garden and show how important it is that the design, layout and implementation of your garden is well planned. Going into a landscaping design without this level of detail, thought and careful planning can waste thousands of pounds and leave you with a garden that doesn't look as you expected it to, has been poorly constructed and may not last as long as you'd hoped. Having your garden designed and landscaped should be an exciting and rewarding process that leaves you with a beautiful garden that enhances both your life and your property, and using a professional garden designer gives you the assurance that you will get this with your project.

If you'd like to find out more about having your garden professionally designed, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Heartwood Garden Design is a registered member of the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) and the British Association of Landscaping Industries (BALI)

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