Design

Wildlife & food forest garden design

View from above of wiggly path in new garden

The structure of the new Clifftop Garden clearly visible

I create and landscape wildlife food forest garden designs that are sustainable and low maintenance. Based in West Wales, I offer both a local and remote design service, see my portfolio for examples.

Philosophy

A food forest garden can be an intersectional garden, a beautiful wildlife haven producing edible crops

Central to the design is working with nature, working with what is already on-site and figuring what plants will thrive in the specific conditions. I prefer to use locally sourced materials and avoid costly groundworks where possible.

I aim to create a diversity of habitats and use a diverse range of native plants where possible, because native plants provide more food for co-evolved wildlife.

This creates a more resilient ecosystem, which benefits the edible crops in the garden.

Close-up of lilac blue flower

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) in a client’s garden

Approach

There is much to consider in an intersectional garden, so I like to simplify the process by breakind it into 3 related stages:

  1. Plan - survey land, write wishlist, make map
  2. Design - arrange observations & wishlist on map
  3. Schedule - distil series of actions
CAD garden design in blueprint style

Early draft of the ornamental, scented & wildlife Clifftop Garden

  1. All notes are shared anonymously onlne notes.grwd.uk.
  2. To survey the land, I use satellite photos for a general outline, and then take measurements physically.
  3. I also work from photographs and videos, supplied by the client when working remotely.
  4. Liasing closely, I help the client draw up a wishlist of features and plants.
  5. Images & inspiration are shared via a Pinterest board.
  6. The plants are organised on a shared Google spreadsheet.
  7. The design is created using CAD, and shared as a PDF file via the online notes.
  8. Finally, the schedule is managed on either online notes or the Google spreadsheet.
Screenshot of Pinterest

Pinterest is a useful tool for collecting & sharing ideas

For an example of the online notes, Google Sheets and Pinterest working together, please see the Clifftop Garden.

Costing

Each job is costed individually and not by a day rate. The cost of a design really depends on the level of detail required. I can provide anything from an outline canopy and windbreak plan to detailed border planting plans with costings & suppliers.

In total, it takes about 1-2 weeks to create a garden design, with good client communication.

To help with a rough estimate of design and landscaping a 1 acre forest garden, I gave a talk in February 2021: natureworks.org.uk/talks/costing

What is a forest garden?

Wooded forest garden

Still from Thomas Regnault’s short film of Martin Crawford’s forest garden

Definition

A forest garden works with nature to grow edible crops. It is sustainable, low maintenance and wildlife friendly and emulates the woodland edge using edible perennial and ground cover plants. Essentially, it is an edible ecosystem.

It is also called a food forest or edible landscape.

Characteristics
  1. Sustainable — provides its own nutrients and pest control
  2. Productive — range of harvests from multiple layers
  3. Wildlife friendly — biodiversity encouraged, native plants where possible
  4. Layers — use all available space
  5. Perennial — lower maintenance, more nutritious
Features
  1. Windbreaks — integral hedges & dead hedges
  2. Spacing — enough for lower storeys
  3. Ground cover — ultimately permanent living cover
  4. Nutrients — supplied by garden system plants

See Thomas Regnault’s short film of Martin Crawford’s garden for a more visual introduction: