Going Fake in the Garden
  • By Alick
  • In Inspiration
  • Posted Aug 01 2016
Our gardens can be both a pleasure and a pain. We want them to be a place to relax, play and entertain, but all too often they become a source of work or stress. A rare sunny weekend, too few and far between to squander, should be enjoyed, not filled with endless pruning, mowing and digging just to keep the jungle under control.

Our gardens are increasingly viewed as an extension of our homes; indeed, a recent survey by estate agents Strutt and Parker reveals that the privacy and space to entertain are essential for our dream gardens. Whilst tennis courts and swimming pools are high up on the nation’s wish list, they remain a fantasy for most people. Much more achievable is the concept of an outdoor room; a multifunctional living space that feels well-tended, inviting and full of colour.

For the blessedly green fingered, and those with lots of time to invest, then the right plants can thrive. With careful planning, planting and consistent care, they will bring a display of flowers and textures throughout the seasons. It is both an art and a science. However, for those without an interest in gardening, lacking expertise or without spare time to invest, there is an interesting, effective and attractive alternative.

An artificial garden brings many benefits. Put simply, faux plants require little maintenance; there is no watering, no pruning and they will look their best instantly and no matter what the great British weather throws at us.

Many gardens will benefit from judicious use of stunning artificial foliage and flowers, but there are certain situations when it is a very wise move indeed. If you purchase good quality fake plants, they can last for many years without fading from sunlight or being damaged by wind, rain and frost.

Balconies, yards, roof gardens and terraces

artificial topiary on roof terrace balcony

When space is at a premium, your plants have to earn their keep by looking good all year round. It is worth noting that many plants require deep soil for healthy root growth, and because planting into the ground isn’t often an option for yards, roof gardens or balconies, your choices can be limited. Keeping potted plants healthy through dry periods and frost can be a labour of love.

Instead, choose a few small artificial trees, such as a laurel and for interest and height, a sculptural boxwood spiral. Then accompany these with a gathering of potted flowers in complementary colours; fuchsias and lavender always look gorgeous and so do a hanging basket or two. Your transformation is complete!

Rented accommodation

Real plants can be very sensitive to being moved around, so if there is a chance you will be on the move, then opting for artificial is much kinder than moving a live plant at the wrong time of year. Also, roots spread quickly and the plant will grow, sometimes making it impossible to take with you when you move, especially if the next garden is smaller. By contrast, an artificial plant (even if ‘planted’ into the ground) will be straightforward to take with you and can be stored if necessary.

House sales

artificial hanging baskets kerb appeal

When you’ve put your house on the market, there is so much to sort out that the garden can be low on the priority list. However, thinking about the exterior of your property is important, not only for kerb appeal but also because it sells a lifestyle to your potential buyer.

A perfect bay or laurel tree either side of the front door gives an instant first impression that the property is well-maintained. Colourful window box planting too will smarten up any frontage – what about the purples of lavender set against white geraniums and lush green foliage? Choose flowers that would naturally be in bloom at the time of year you are selling. Best of all, you can then pack it all easily into the removal van and make your new house look like home instantly… while you deal with all those cardboard boxes inside.

Family gardens

If you have children or grandchildren visiting your garden, then safety is a priority. So garden can be low on the priority list. However, thinking about the exterior of your property is important, not only for many plants can be dangerous if the berries are consumed, and often the bright hues of red and orange are far too attractive for our little ones to resist. Spiky leaves or thorns can present problems too for curious fingers or bare feet. To avoid the worry, choose artificial plants. Pets too can be harmed by certain plants – lilies for example will make cats very poorly.

Also consider a fake lawn, especially if you have football mad youngsters. A hard-wearing turf will avoid that muddy mess in front of the goal and provide a perfect playing surface with zero maintenance. There are lots of video guides on the web to help you lay your own fake turf.

For instant privacy

artificial hedge screening

When demarking boundaries and seeking a sense of privacy, most people go for the instant fix of a fence or the slow and high-maintenance option of planting a hedge. Artificial hedges can give you the best of both worlds – there is no waiting and watering required, but you benefit from the softer visual effect and gentler acoustics that greenery brings, and of course, you ‘ll have that all important boundary marker.

If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s possible to create an entirely artificial garden, from turf to hedge, tree to flower. If you do, it’s worth remembering to make a little space for wildlife by popping up a couple of bird feeders and including a birdbath in your design.

Whatever your circumstances, going artificial might be your best option: a colourful, safe and maintenance free garden is within your reach. Now, where’s the BBQ and prosecco? It’s time to get outside!

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