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Island beds - pros and cons, your thoughts please!

PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,492
To get some extra planting space in deeper soil which gets more afternoon sun, I'm thinking about creating an island bed in my lawn.  I'm not sure if this is a good idea and would welcome your thoughts on your own successes, failures and what you would do next time, if at all! 

The potential shape is also a consideration - a circle, square or something a bit more creative!  I'm interested to know your thoughts please and any photos would be really helpful.  Thank you.  Here's the lawn, still thawing out:




Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.


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  • I have no advice, I just wanted to say that from all the photos you've shared, your garden is spectacular!
    New England, USA
    Metacomet soil with hints of Woodbridge and Pillsbury
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,492
    Hello @CrankyYankee, thank you, that's very kind of you - there's always room for improvement though!  I've gone a bit overboard with grasses and want some more flowering perennials to add some extra summer colour.
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.


  • B3B3 Posts: 27,340
    I think your garden is lovely as it is. I wouldn't add an island. Do you have plants in front of the wall? If not, perhaps you could nibble a bit off the lawn in front of the wall or to the right of the photo. But I think I'd leave it as it is
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • bédébédé Posts: 3,074
    edited January 2023
    Adrian Bloom of Bressingham Nurseries wrote a lot about island beds.  It might be worthwhile to track dowbn some of his writing.

    Regarding your garden: of the bit you've shown therr doesn't seem much room for an extra bed.   But maybe one with almost lawn-high plants - say, heathers.

    Ness Gardens might be a useful local resource.
     location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,512
    I have no practical experience of creating island beds, but since your lawn and surrounding beds are irregular, I would avoid a square shape and maybe try to mirror some of the existing sweeps or go for a simple circle. Depends what you are thinking of planting but I think some height always looks good, low planting always looks a bit municipal, I think. 
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,853
    I think your garden looks lovely as it is. Hard to tell from a photo how big that lawn is but it look a bit small for a bed, might make it look fussy. 

    We live quite near Bressingham Gardens. They are spectacular but huge, plenty of room for grass and beds.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • bédébédé Posts: 3,074
    edited January 2023
    Just thought I'd change my picture (is that what they call an avatar?).  The ones offered are pretty boring and contribute nothing.  

    It's "The Gardener Vallier" by Cezanne.  It think it looks a bit, but only a bit, likw me.
     location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,492
    Thank you all very much for your thoughts, lots to think about now!  I'll also think about widening that border on the far right which is just edging into the photo but it only gets morning sun.  You've done a great job there @LunarSea, thank you for the detail.
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.


  • bédébédé Posts: 3,074
    edited January 2023
    I lean more towards a minimalist Zen look.  A bit like a Japanese temple gravel garden but without the symbolism.  I use a grass lawn as my basic horizontal, flat water-like theme, to set off my borders and plants.

    But it sounds like you are on a journey.
     location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
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