If you are thinking of getting your garden professionally designed this year, what should you be looking out for when choosing a landscape company? We ask Martin Neenan, General Manager at the award-winning Boningale Garden Creations for his advice and tips.

 What makes a good garden designer?

A good garden designer has to be in tune with the customer – and gaining trust is absolutely vital. This means spending hours with you to ascertain exactly how you want to use the garden and what it is you want to achieve. At this initial stage, they will go through existing features, talk about preferred styles, and, crucially, budget. It’s only when those details are sorted that the design can be created.

What should people look for if they want to use a garden design company?

Do some digging! Before signing on the dotted line, ask to speak to previous customers and check to see if it is a member of the Association of Professional Landscapers – this will give you added assurance of quality and guarantee of service.

Will they help us choose the best hard landscaping materials?

Materials are one of the most important components in the design (and budget) and with so many options, from slate, block paving and brick to concrete and gravel – not forgetting natural materials like hedging and trees – to choose from, it may feel overwhelming. A good company will advise on the pros and cons of each type of material taking into account the design brief, surrounding landscape as well as your home’s architectural style.

At Boningale we have a team of experts, from our award-winning garden design associates to our horticultural specialists and project management team, who will give you expert advice, every step of the way.


By Martin Neenan Garden Creations General Manager

The dormant season – mid-autumn to early spring – is generally agreed to be the best time to plant root-ball and bare root plants.

Not sure what this means? Hopefully, this simple explanation will help you so that you can the most out of your outdoor space.

Bare-root plants are exactly what it says: plants with their bare roots exposed. That means they are sold without any compost and not in pots. Instead, they are sold wrapped in polythene, which prevents the fibrous roots from drying out. Bare-root plants and trees are typically between one and three years old and because they have large clumps of root, they will establish more quickly once in the ground. It’s important, however, to keep the roots damp (put them in a bucket of water) and plant the specimens in their permanent position as quickly as possible – except if the ground is frozen or waterlogged. Make sure they are in situ before the spring growing season.

 Root-ball plants usually come in a hessian wrap & wire mesh to hold in the compost or soil and roots.  It’s a common method for larger, semi-mature trees and conifers and other evergreens. Make sure you dig a hole that’s at least twice as wide as the root ball but only as deep as the root ball itself. Plant the root ball too deep and it could encourage disease to enter the trunk.


As we approach the start of another New Year, Martin Neenan, Garden Creations’ General Manager
looks back at the top 5 trends seen in garden and landscape design over the last 12 months, which are to set to continue this year.

Rethinking Outdoor Experiences

As we know, an increasing number of homeowners are turning their gardens into a space they can use all year round. This can be as simple as creating cosy sheltered areas where you can cook, eat and socialise, to making the garden an integral part of the home using materials and hard landscaping in complementary colours. The biggest trend this year has been the use of indoor and outdoor porcelain tiles which create a seamless transition from inside your home to your outdoor space – plus, they not only look beautiful, they are easier to clean and are frost-proof.

Boningale Patio

Extending the Seasons

To support the outdoor experience, more and more clients have specified fire-pits this year and asked for them to be designed as an integral part of the garden.  Here in the UK, we are not blessed with all-year sunshine and fire-pits do offer the practical solution, as well as providing a stunning focal point for relaxing conversation on chilly nights.


Colouring Structures

Generally speaking clients either want a contemporary or a traditional garden design, but in both cases there has been a real demand this year for customers wanting more colours out of their structures. This can be achieved by painting fences, sheds or structures like pergolas. For example, rather than brown or grey fences, we are now painting more fences black, dark green or dark blue.  These dark surfaces also provide the perfect backdrop for vibrant planting schemes.

Low Maintenance

For this piece we couldn’t leave out the growing popularity in clients wanting the benefits of artificial grass.  This is a trend set to stay with more and more options being developed for homeowners to simulate the look and feel of real grass. From traditional bowling green designs to striped lawns and even wildflower turf, there is an increasing array of options available to suit all budgets.

Kerb Appeal

Finally, we’ve seen a massive shift in client’s ‘front of house’ expectations this year – it’s no longer a case of simply tarmacking or paving your driveway. Clients want to create ‘kerb appeal’ – they want a beautifully designed landscaped garden that compliments and is styled around their driveway space.  The key to success is the ‘design’ – making sure it reflects the style of the house, that the soft landscape is conducive to the environment and that the hard landscape is durable and functional. With so many factors to consider and choices to be made, professional advice is the best way forward.


If you would like to see case study examples of our landscape designs or need professional advice from our award-winning garden designers please Contact us for a free consultation.


There’s still plenty to do in the garden this autumn, if you want to keep it looking tidy. Martin Neenan, General Manager at Boningale Garden Creations provides his golden tips here.

Now is the best time to move established trees or shrubs. Deciduous plants can be moved any time from late October to mid-March, while evergreen plants are best moved from October to late March. Moving them in the dormant season gives the roots time to re-establish themselves quickly.


If your garden is at its peak in the summer, it can start to look a little tired in the autumn months, so it’s a good idea to cut back any perennials that have died down. This not only improves their appearance, it also encourages strong growth for the following year. If you can, leave some stems to over-winter because this provides some a home and food for wildlife.


There’s no need to go to the gym when you are a gardener – especially if you like to maintain your lawn! Get your workout done by scarifying the lawn (this is removing unwanted thatch – moss – that grows in the lawn). Afterwards, top dress by applying a layer of sand/soil/peat mix to the lawn. You’ll need a different mix depending on your lawn’s soil conditions, for example, if you have a fast-draining lawn, you’ll need more soil/loam to increase water retention.


Another great way to tidy up the garden and make a difference to your soil quality is composting the fallen leaves. In 12 months’ time, you’ll have a nutritious, rich leaf mould with which to enrich your borders.

If you need any further information or want to seek professional advice from our award-winning garden designers please contact us today for a free consultation.


Do you ever look enviously at those gardens with beautiful lawns? While most of us don’t have the time to achieve the perfection of a premium golf course, there is plenty you can do to ensure your lawn looks lush and healthy.


Mowing is crucial but it is important to get the mower height set correctly – make sure it’s higher in dry weather and for the first few cuts of the year, just in case there is a late frost. The type of mower you use will also have an impact. Rotary mowers do the job but if you want a more professional finish, consider buying a cylinder mower, which usually comes with rollers for striping.

Scarifying – removing the unwanted thatch – should be carried out twice a year, in April and September, preferably on damp grass. It’s a good idea to apply a moss killer seven-10 days before using a scarifying machine or rake to go over your entire lawn.


Aerating is also important and should be done once a year between March and November. This involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots, thus alleviating soil compaction.

We also recommend top-dressing the lawn with a layer of sand/soil/peat mix after scarifying and aerating. What mix you use depends on the soil conditions.

You may also want to water your lawn during prolonged periods of hot, dry weather (just check there’s no hosepipe ban!). Morning is the best time to do it when the air is cooler and the wind is calmer – and avoid 11am-3pm, when the sun is at its hottest.

The summer heat can take its toll on lawns, but if you follow these simple tips you can make your grass the envy of your neighborhood!


Steve Tonks, General Manager at Boningale Garden Creations provides his top tips

Summer is the time you can really enjoy the fruit of your labours, but don’t sit back and relax too much – there’s still plenty to do.

Check your potted plants carefully because they can easily dry out during periods of warmth and no rain. Equally, over-watering can be a problem, so it’s treading a fine line between the two issues!


Potted plants – especially those in terracotta pots – are vulnerable to overheating, so there are a few things you can do to mitigate any problems, mulching helps too improve moisture retention, as does a good helping of water retention gel to compost in pots and hanging baskets.

Be careful not to soak plants in water though, because it can cause root rot. A good tip is to stand them in saucers of sand and keep the sand damp. If your pots get too dry, soak the pot in a bucket of water for 30 minutes and then drain well.

If you’re not sure if your potted plants need to be watered, place your finger in the soil. If it feels damp, don’t water.

Your grass doesn’t need to be cut frequently at this time of year – if there’s a long, dry
spell, raise the height of the mower blades because the grass won’t scorch so easily. Lawns recover quickly after a drought but if you do water them, do it in the evening (just check there’s no hosepipe ban!).


If you need any further information or want to seek professional advice from our  award-winning garden designers please contact us on or call me on 01902 376500.


Steve Tonks, General Manager at Boningale Garden Creations provides his top design tips

We may live in a temperate climate, but that’s no reason for our gardens to be used only during the few weeks that we enjoy hot, sunny days.

It’s easy to turn your garden into a room you can use all year round – all you need to do is take a little time to think carefully about the design, making sure it fits in with your needs.

The first thing to do is decide what your priorities are. If you want to use your outdoor space to cook and eat outside, then there are plenty of options to choose from, from barbecue to increasingly popular pizza oven.


Complement this cooking area with a cosy entertaining space, complete with a table, comfy outdoor sofas and chairs, so you can enjoy a relaxed meal in comfort.


Consider building a low wall around your seating area, and add some strategically placed lighting and heating. This will not only make it a more intimate, “room-like” space, it will also help you feel less exposed to the elements.

A canopy is another great option: not only will it shade you from the height of the sun, when we get it, it will also provide some much-needed shelter when the heavens open!

You should also consider creating a seamless pathway from indoors to outdoors (make the garden an integral part of the home). Use materials and hard landscaping in complementary colours. If you decide to use decking to complement a wooden floor, make sure the boards run in the same direction as the flooring in your home – this will ensure a better flow.

The choice of paving can also make a real difference to the look and feel of your garden. Get a few samples and see how they look in their intended space, particularly if they are right against your property. Pour some water on them, too; you may find the colours are completely different when they have been rained on!

If you need any further information or want to seek professional advice from our award-winning garden designers please contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION. 

For more tips for wither it be maintaining your existing garden, or if your thinking of starting again, scroll down through our archive of helpful blogs. 


By Steve Tonks, General Manager at Boningale Garden Creations

Sustainability is a buzzword that you have probably heard quite a lot over the past few years – it’s all about being green and reducing the impact you have on the environment in your day-to-day lives.


And there’s no better way to begin your greener lifestyle than by changing some of your gardening habits – and it’s so easy to do. For a regular domestic garden, here are our top six tips to creating a sustainable garden:

  1. Compost your garden waste, vegetable and fruit peelings and used teabags. Letting these rot down will create nutrient-rich humus that will help to feed your plants and shrubs.
  2. Don’t let those falling leaves go to waste: bag them up, punch a few holes in the bags and within a few months you’ll be rewarded with leaf mould, which is a superb soil conditioner.
  3. Gardens usually need a lot of water, so it’s a good idea to catch the rainwater in butts and use the fall-off around the garden when we have those all-too-welcome warm, dry weeks. You can buy them in different sizes to suit your needs.
  4. Reduce or omit all together chemicals that tackle pests and diseases. There are always organic alternatives and they work just as well, without contaminating the soil.
  5. Reduce your carbon footprint by growing your own fruit and veg. You don’t need an allotment or a smallholding to do this – grow salads in small tubs, plant herbs in pots and even plant some veggies, such as chard and beans, alongside your flowers in the borders. Window boxes, patios and windowsills are all ideal for lovely home-grown produce.
  6. Make your garden a haven for beneficial insects by creating a bug hotel. You don’t have to spend a fortune on buying insect houses, just use a space at the back of the garden and pile up some logs and let them rot down, or cut down lengths of hollow bamboo and tie them together. They make perfect homes for creepy-crawlies.

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If you need any further information or want to seek professional advice from our award-winning garden designers please visit or call me on 01902 376500.


A garden for cancer patients, visitors and staff officially opened at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford today – thanks to Boningale Garden Creations, Boningale Nurseries & Boningale Greensky.

The multi-award winning domestic landscape company from Albrighton donated materials and its design expertise to help create the new courtyard named ‘The Boningale Tranquillity Garden’.

Work began on the garden in January and after weeks of excavating, landscaping and planting – helped by volunteers from the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS – the garden was officially unveiled on the 24th March to coincide with NHS Sustainability Day.


Steve Tonks, General Manager at Boningale Garden Creations, designed the landscape and planting scheme, and all the shrubs were donated by Boningale Nurseries. The scheme also features a new, highly aesthetic environmental planting technique that is being exclusively developed by Boningale Greensky.

It is the second year in a row that Boningale has been involved with NHS Sustainability Day. Last year, it donated two trees for the hospital grounds.

Steve said: “We are thrilled to support the Princess Royal Hospital once again and hope that the garden we have created provides a therapeutic and calming outdoor environment for patients, their families and staff.”


As well as donating the paving for hard landscape areas, Boningale Garden Creations also helped The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust convince some of its industry contacts to donate other materials, including pergolas, which are being built by Border Hardwood.

“The support for the garden has been tremendous and we are humbled to have so many people donate their time and goods to make it happen,” added Steve.


By Steve Tonks, General Manager at Boningale Garden Creations

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If your borders are filling up nicely but you still hanker to add more interest in your garden – there’s only one way you can go, and that’s up.

Adding height to your garden (literally) lifts your eye to another layer of colour, texture and vibrancy, plus provides yet another focal point.

However, don’t limit yourself to thinking just about planting trees or positioning climbers, such as clematis and honeysuckle, to creep up your perimeter fence or wall.


Whether you have a very small outdoor space or a large garden, you can use height to help create a series of “rooms”.

One very effective way to lift the eye is to add pergolas in strategic areas of the garden. Not only do these structures add architectural interest – ideal when you need visual stimulus after climbers have died down for the season – they also open more options for planting creeping plants.

Position them over a seating area or over a walkway and you’ll instantly create a more intimate ambience to your outdoor space.

Gazebos add welcome shade to seating areas and if planted with scented climbers will delight anyone who takes a few moments to relax in the garden.


Of course, adding height to your garden can also increase privacy. Trees and hedges can be used to block out less aesthetically pleasing views, while a trellis can disguise areas such as where the compost heap or bins are.

Whatever you plan, the main thing to think about is scale – make sure your chosen structure is right for your plot. Too small and it will be lost; too big and it will overwhelm.