Lawn Design - guide to designing a lawn

The lawn is most often the centre piece of a garden and as such its the relation with the rest of your gardens elements is of great importance. A lawn can be design can try and maximise feeling of space in the garden, it can be designed to give a very formal, ornamental feel or it can be designed so that it draws the eye towards a particular focal point. These are just a few examples of how the lawn design can influence the various experiences you encounter in your garden.

Lawn Use

One of the first things to consider when starting the lawn design process is how the lawn is going to be used. Lawns may have a sole function such as being ornamental or they may be multi functional. You may need the lawn to be somewhere where the kids can play safely, you might wish to sunbath on the lawn or use it for home 'picnics'. Tennis, football and badminton are examples of sports that can considerably affect the grass cover of a lawn. Other lawn games such as Croquet are less trampling but still exert stress upon the lawn.

If you have multiple requirements from the lawn then it may be beneficial to split the design into seperate lawns, one for sports and play, the other for visual appeal and sunbathing. The grass types you choose will be influenced by the lawn use, hard wearing grasses for heavy traffic lawns, wild meadow grasses for those after something less traditional.

Design and lawn maintenance

The shape of the lawn can greatly effect the amount of time and effort needed to maintain a lawn. A square or rectangular lawn shape is the easiest to maintain.

Mowing in straight lines to achieve a striped lawn effect is often desired. Having objects placed in the lawn such as statues, shrubs, swings and seats can mean that a curved mowing patch must be taken thus impacting on any uniform stripes.

Maintaining neat well formed lawn edges can be a lengthy task. The more curves and complicated edges that your lawn design ncludees, the longer you will have to spend time in maintaining the lawn edges.

Project timespan

If you have a blank canvas for your garden then you may wish to lay the whole site to lawn and then as you decide upon features you would like in your garden you can remove the appropriate layer of turf by digging it up. This approach can be easier than laying a small lawn and then trying to add new sections to the existing lawn at a later date.

Space required

The function(s) of the lawn will influence the space that is required. Square and rectangular lawns tend to emphasise space more as they are continual unbroken lines of grass. Lawns with spurs that branch out can form interesting avenues for the eye to be drawn down.

Planning your design

Carefully planning the design of your lawn can reveal some key criteria that you need to take into consideration before committing to the hard work of preparing the soil for a new lawn. It is highly recommended that you try and draw a plan of your design. This design should be drawn to scale (using graph paper can help make drawing to scale easier, neater and more accurate).

The design plan should include your properties boundaries, any outbuildings such as the shed, garages, greenhouses, the house outline and any existing trees and shrubs that you wish to remain in their current position. You should then plan the shape and size of the lawn taking into account factors mentioned above. Assessing the position of paths around or across the lawn is also an important part of the planning process. The amount of use the garden receives will be an influencing factor here. Will the kids cut the avoid a path around the edge of the lawn and just cut across the middle?

Try envisaging how the lawn will appear when you are positioned in the gardens seating area, how the lawn fits into the garden design when viewed from the kitchen window etc.

Marking out the proposed lawn design

A further stage in the planning is to actually mark out the proposed lawn design along with any associated paths. You can then move to different positions in the garden (and house) and assess if all your needs have been covered by the design. Does the lawn act as a focal point when looking through the patio doors? Can the kids be seen playing on the lawn from the kitchen?

Can you see your prize sculpture when sunbathing? Can you fit your minature football goalposts away from the greenhouse? If all your needs can't be covered by any possible design then you must assess which needs are the most important.