Even if your budget is stretched to breaking point by the time you have moved in, and you have no intention of getting to work on the garden for some time, it still helps enormously to have some idea of just how you would like it all to end up, if only to know how best to dispose of all the spoil. If you have a large plot you may be able to save yourself a considerable amount of money by reusing your foundation excavations to create landscape features such as rockeries or even BMX tracks for the kids. Indeed, the Government actively encourages you to do this by penalising you for removing spoil from site (Landfill Tax).
Another reason for considering the landscaping early on is that on many sites you will be unable to get heavy plant-like JCBs to the back of the house once you have completed the trench excavations (let alone the housebuilding stage). If you have plans for landscaping or drainage, or even plan to build a swimming pool or a summer house at a later date, you may find it cheap and convenient to undertake the preliminary groundwork stages early on. If you have good clean topsoil on site before excavation starts, then try to get your groundworkers to strip it carefully and dump it in a separate pile, well away from the building work. When it comes to landscaping later on, you will need all the clean topsoil you can get.
Patios and Paving
Sit out and enjoy your garden on luxurious paving
ABOVE: 1. Bradstone’s ready-aged Old Town paving; 2. Moderno from Brett Landscaping is perfect for a contemporary finish; 3. Richmond Tumbled Limestone from Mandarin Stone; 4. Purpletree’s Irish Quartzite lightly riven paving
It’s becoming increasingly common for councils to insist on having more sophisticated rainwater drainage than a few pipes leading to a water course or a drain. Concerns about new developments causing flooding have led to many big developers having to install SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems), and this is now moving into the world of self-build. It’s nothing to be afraid of: typically, you might be asked to fit permeable paving and/or an attenuation bed underneath, which would collect rainwater from downpours and then slowly release it into the ground. A great number of self-build sites simply channel rainwater to an underground soakaway.
Many self-builders elect to fit rainwater harvesting tanks in the garden. They cost from around £2,000 but promise a reasonable payback by reducing water bills, where you have a metered supply.
Decking makes for the perfect covering on raised and uneven areas
ABOVE: 1. Fusion® balustrade and decking by Richard Burbidge; 2. Wood-look recycled waste plastic decking from i-plas; 3. Ipe from The Natural Wood Floor Company; 4. Timber decking from Wickes
Boundaries: Fences, Walls and Hedges
Many building plots need fencing in, often as a requirement of sale. This is understandable — after all, the plot vendor is very often a neighbour and they don’t want to have to live with a construction site for months or possibly years. But it also results in masses of unsightly boarded fencing being erected, which adds little to the overall attractiveness of a site other than providing privacy.
Fences; As you might expect, timber is the cheapest option. Chestnut palings, which are little more than a temporary fence just hammered into the ground, cost around £6/m. Post-and-rail (paddock-type) fencing is about twice the price, whilst if you want something which provides more privacy, you need to pay around £25/m upwards, depending on quality.
Walls: Brick or stone walls make stunning boundary features but can be very expensive to build as they need to be much thicker than house walls to retain stability. Consequently, look to pay at least £200/m if the resulting wall is head height. Stone walls will be anything up to twice as much as this.
Hedges: If you have the patience, plant a hedge. Native species such as beech and hawthorn take around five years to become an impenetrable barrier, planted around a wire fence. Leylandii will be much quicker but won’t win you much praise from your neighbours.
Set out your home’s permanent boundaries with style
ABOVE: 1. A high brick wall offers great privacy; 2. Wickes’ Diamond screen trellis; 3. Knightsbridge walling from Wickes; 4. This blue Lias stone wall forms part of the house