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Create a garden paradise; Experts will help put your outdoor ideas into practice.

AS THE weather hots up, our thoughts turn to our neglected gardens and how nice it would be to have a dream space to relax, sunbathe and entertain friends in on long balmy evenings.

The beauty of gardens is that they are hugely varied so your outdoor space can reflect you, your lifestyle and personality.

If you're thinking of a garden makeover you need to consider a few key points.

And Marshalls, the hard landscaping transformation company, and TV garden designer Diarmuid Gavin have teamed up to give some advice.

What do you want from your garden?: A garden should be a place that extends your home and provides you with an additional outdoor room. To start with, write a 'dream list' of everything you want from your garden. Would you like an outdoor dining area? Do you need a low maintenance garden Style of your garden You need to think about the style of your house so that your new garden can complement its overall look.

We spend ages deciding on the interiors for our homes, and the same decision process should be applied to our gardens. Consider what colours and textures you like, as well as an overall design theme Type of garden: Do you dream of a relaxing space, a wildlife garden or a minimalist, chic haven?

Whether you are going for a contemporary, traditional, formal or an informal design, there is a wide choice of products available to suit all tastes.

Diarmuid Gavin says: 'If you love entertaining then extend your socialising space into the garden. The socialising garden needs a versatile outdoor area. Create low walls and purpose built seating areas as visually interesting focal points and keep planting low maintenance.'

To get some inspiration check out some of the latest gardening TV programmes such as Channel 4's City Gardener, look at gardening and home interest magazines such as Ideal Home and BBC Gardener's World, or simply take a look at other people's gardens.

n Starting off Make a rough sketch of your garden showing where you would like certain features, such as a patio, walling, BBQ area, greenhouse, shed, seating or a pond.

Don't try to overcrowd the space. Consider which areas get the most sun and any uneven areas that may need levelling out Create garden features: There are lots of different features to choose from to create interesting design and focal points. Circles, octants and stepping stones can be used, as can water features, sculptures and lighting to create a truly individual look Choosing the materials to use: Paving flags are ideal for paths, patios and utility areas, but are not recommended for areas used by cars. Block paving should be used for driveways and car parking areas, but can also be used for paths, patios and edging detail.

Once you have an overall design and plan in mind, you can add the ultimate finishing touches to make your garden unique. Consider the style and colour of planting, plant pots and garden furniture.

Choose a reputable contractor: You can transform your garden yourself if you have the necessary skills but, if you don't have the time or the expertise you should seek professional help from a reputable contractor.

Marshalls' register of approved landscape contractors and installers are fully qualified and will ensure only suitable products are used for the job.

To find a Marshalls register contractor visit www.marshalls .co.uk or call 0870 120 7474

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GREEN AND PLEASANT: Diarmuid Gavin offers tips on how to create a unique outdoor space
COPYRIGHT 2005 MGN Ltd.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:591
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