Do Gardens Need Plants?

Well according to almost every dictionary definition the answer must be yes!

  • A plot of land used for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, herbs, or fruit.
  •  gardens Grounds laid out with flowers, trees, and ornamental shrubs and used for recreation or display. Often used in the plural: public gardens; a botanical garden.
  • A fertile, well-cultivated region.These are just a few of the many definitions, but could these be out of date? Why do gardens need plants?

Over the last 30 years, demand for building land has increased, land prices have exploded and so consequently, gardens have got smaller.

In this time, peoples’ expectations have changed and they demand bigger, brighter homes with more living space and larger rooms.

When you have a 4-5 bed detached house on a pocket handkerchief sized plot, the garden you are left with, is often no bigger than the lounge or drawing room.

So why not treat this space like any other room?


There are some fabulous outside wooden and wicker style 3 piece suites with water proof cushions, which a few years ago would have cost a small mortgage, but are now very affordable and are sold in many DIY and garden super stores.

Dining furniture has come a long way from those horrible white plastic tables and chairs our parents owned and even outside cooking facilities have come of age with some gas BBQ’s offering more cooking options than a standard kitchen hob.

People are even building entire outside fireplaces with remote control gas fires and chimneys.

You can clad old fencing in timber to give a modern architectural feel. You can even render boundary walls to look like plastered internal walls. These can then be painted in colours to compliment the internal decoration of the house.

You can now buy water and UV resistant canvas photographs, which can be hung outside all year round to create an external gallery, a perfect solution, for that dull side ally where your windows look out onto a boring fence or wall.

The outside space can be further furnished and decorating with pots and sculpture. Running water can be added to help mask background street noise and garden lighting can transform the space into an outside night-time oasis.

People equate plants to maintenance! Remove plants from the equation and you can furnish and decorate your outside room in exactly the same way as you would any other room and by doing so add to the living environment of your home.

Duncan Heather is Director of the Oxford College of Garden Design and MyGardenSchool