Dream Gardens FAQs
Find advice on the best way implement your Dream Garden at home.
Easy Steps to Dream Gardens is a new initiative designed to help you plant your own show garden at home. Bord Bia has worked with seven Bloom award-winning show garden designers to create garden designs that are suited to a range of different locations.
Each garden design in the series comes with an easy-to-follow planting plan and detailed planting list that can be implemented in your garden according to your available time, space and budget.
The gardens have been designed by some of Ireland’s top garden designers and landscape architects who are experts in assessing outdoor spaces and creating beautiful designs that meet the needs of garden owners. Colour, scent and nature friendly, the planting plans can be implemented in your garden throughout the year.
A planting plan is a comprehensive guide which shows you what plants to plant in your garden and where to plant them in order to achieve a successful planting scheme. All seven planting plans featured in this series are easy-to-follow and can be adapted to suit your garden size and aspect.
The seven designs are based on a garden size of 15 metres x 9 metres and have been designed for different aspects (e.g. north-, south-, east- and west-facing gardens) and include garden plans illustrating a variety of features, such as patios and seating areas.
While the designs highlight where to situate these features in order to make the most of the available sun in your garden, you don’t have to invest in hard landscaping projects to create your own dream garden. The planting plans will help you develop your existing space to create a similar look and feel to your favourite garden design.
Yes, for each design we have focused on a specific border which can be implemented in your own garden, regardless of size. The plans include a grid in each downloadable pack which can be repeated to suit the size of your border. Staff in your local garden centre will be able to offer further advice if required.
Yes, many of the plants featured in this series are suitable for container gardening (e.g. window boxes, hanging baskets and planters). Here are some useful tips to help you get started.
The designers have chosen plants that are grown in Ireland and are readily available in garden retailers around the country. All the plants are available to purchase throughout the year, while bulbs can be purchased in the autumn. You can find a list of garden centres and retail nurseries here.
The cost depends on a variety of factors, including the condition of and access to your garden and whether you want to invest in hard landscaping features. The focus borders in this series are a great way to liven up your garden on a budget. Many of the perennial and annual plants featured are very affordable and can help you add colour and interest without a significant outlay.
Aspect is the direction a garden faces – north, south east or west – and determines how much sun or shade a space receives. Each of the garden designs has been designed for a specific aspect, so before choosing a design, find out the aspect of your own garden here.
The direction your garden faces will determine how much sun it will gets throughout the day. For example, an east-facing garden will get good morning sun.. A south-facing garden will get sun for most of the day in summer, while gardens that face west will get sun from late morning/early afternoon through to the evening. North-facing gardens tend to be shady and a little cooler. However, they may have sun to the rear of the garden which may be the best location for a seating area.
Good garden design starts with research and planning. Once you have found out your garden’s aspect, the first step is to survey your existing garden. Your local garden centre is the best place to get expert advice on the following considerations:
- Your location – is your garden in an exposed coastal or upland location or a less exposed, sheltered location?
- Your soil – understanding the soil in your garden will inform what plants will work best for your plot. Soil textures vary from heavy clay to sand, while the ph. of your soil can vary from acid to alkaline. Once you understand the soil in your garden you can determine what you might need to do to improve it. The condition can be enhanced by adding soil conditioners such as farmyard manure or compost.
- Changing levels – is your garden flat or does it slope towards/away from the house? Is water runoff an issue? Do you need steps or terracing? This will help you plan any hard landscaping features. You should seek professional advice if you have drainage issues or notable level changes.
- Adjoining properties – what impact, if any, do adjoining properties have on your garden? Do neighbouring buildings or trees cast shade on your space? Do you need to add planting or structures to provide privacy in your garden?
- Usage – do you have small children or pets that are likely to try eating your plants? Look for plants with low/no toxicity. Your local garden centre will be able to offer further advice on this.
- Measurements – finally, measure your garden and plot it out on paper. Using graph paper will make it easier to plot your dimensions. Alternatively, you can print out the grid sheet we have provided at the back of the downloadable garden packs.
Once you have surveyed your garden and assessed your needs you can select the Dream Garden Plan that works best for you here.
Pot/container-grown trees and shrubs can be planted year-round when the ground and weather conditions are favourable. It’s important to remember to water trees regularly during the drier months until the tree is established, which is typically after two years.
Bareroot hedges are planted during the dormant season, which runs from November until early March. Plant these when the ground and weather conditions are favourable. As with trees, remember to water a new hedge during spells of dry weather.
Spring and summer bulbs such as Daffodils (Narcissus), Crocus, Tulips and Alliums are planted the previous autumn.
Hard landscaping is a term to describe the hard elements in your garden such as stone, concrete, and gravel. It generally refers to paths, patios and other built structures such as pergolas and water features.
If you are a skilled at DIY you may be able to undertake some elements of the design yourself and there are plenty of resources available in online blogs and YouTube to help you do this. However, if you are considering adding complex hard landscaping features to your garden then you may be better served hiring a professional. Hard landscaping is a long-term investment and should last throughout the lifespan of your garden so it is important to get it right from the outset
These 8 gardening essential tools and products will help you get started:
- Measuring tape
- Hand trowel
- Hand fork
Take a look at our glossary here:
- Evergreen: An evergreen plant keeps its leaves all year.
- Deciduous: A deciduous plant sheds its foliage in winter and produces new leaves in spring.
- Trees: Trees are typically large, evergreen or deciduous plants that have a single trunk, although they can be trained into a multi-stem (see below). If your garden is small opt for a species that suits your space, such as an Acer or Amelanchier lamarckii. Your local garden centre will be able to help you choose the best option for your space.
- Shrubs: Shrubs are evergreen or deciduous woody plants with several main stems near the ground. Smaller than a tree, they help add form and structure to your garden.
- Perennials: Perennials are plants that die back to the ground in the winter and re-emerge the following year.
- Biennials: Biennials are plant that live for two years. They typically produce foliage in the first year and flowers the following year. Like perennials, they die back to the ground in the winter and re-emerge the following year.
- Annuals: Annuals are plants that live for a year or less. These are great options if you wish to add colour to your garden on a tight budget.
- Climbers: Climbers are deciduous and evergreen climbing plants that can be trained to climb up trellises, fences or walls.
- Bulbs: Bulbs, such as Daffodils or Tulips, provide seasonal colour. They are planted in the autumn and flower throughout the spring.
- Topiary: Topiary is the art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes.
- Multi-stem: A multi-stem tree is a tree that has two or more stems. These have been trained to grow together by planting two or more single-stemmed trees in one hole or pot.
- Coppice: To coppice means to cut a tree or shrub back to ground level periodically to stimulate growth.
- Espalier: An espalier is a fruit tree or ornamental shrub whose branches are trained to grow flat against a wall, supported on a lattice.
- Pleached: A pleached tree or shrub features branches that are entwined or interlaced to form a hedge or provide cover for an outdoor walkway.