Oliver Rutman Garden Design


Find us on the Outdoor Studio

We are exited to announce that we now offer e-consultations! This has happened due to us partnering with The Outdoor Studio a brand new platform offering the infrastructure for garden and landscape designers to run a e-consultation service over zoom.

 Although the consultations on The Outdoor Studio are one off consultations in January we will be extending this service to offer a full remote design service. This will start with a consultation on The Outdoor Studio and then progress into further zoom meetings. We will also produce design drawings making this the same as our full design service but carried out remotely rather than in person. 

Click on the button below to go to book an Outdoor Studio consultation or find out more.

Biodiversity Net Gain

Under The Environmental Act 2021 all planning perditions granted in England (with a few exemptions) will have to soon deliver at leas 10% biodiversity net gain.

Some local authorities are currently mid way through a 2 year implementation period while others already require a 10% net gain on all new applications. 

What does this mean for a planning application?

To determine the Biodiversity Net Gain for a proposed development an ecology report will be required followed by the  landscape design and planting plan.

Each application will require a Biodiversity Metric which compares the ecological value of the existing site vs the proposed design and planting plan. The proposed scheme will have to prove and increase of at least 10% on the Biodiversity Metic. 

We are increasingly working with clients at very early stages, coordinating ecology reports and related professionals to help our clients achieve the 10% Biodiversity Net Gain for their applications.

If you are unsure if you require planning for your landscaping works please refer to the planning section of our How much does landscaping cost? post for guidance. 

Garden Shade

With unprecedented temperatures hitting the UK and Europe this week one of the realities of climate change is beginning to effect us all. Shade is therefore essential in any garden design. A number of options are highlighted below:


  • Freestanding open structure that use beams to create shade.
  • Often designed for climbing plants to grow over.
  • Retractable pergolas are often a more modern choice.
  •  Traditionally these would mark the entrance to a garden with a bench under them. More common for them to be used as part of a seating area.

Pagoda and Gazebo

  • Garden structures that feature a roof and are often round or octagonal in shape.
  • Their sides are often fully open or semi open.
  • A gazebo is what would traditionally be built in public spaces for bandstand and events.
  • A pagoda is a Buddhist and Hindu temple that features intricate designs. (not to be confused with pergolas).

Shade Sail

  • A sail that is a flexible membrane tensioned between several anchor points.
  • More affordable and versatile than other hard structures.
  • These are water resistant not waterproof.



  • Open sided, roofed or vaulted gallery.
  • Can be free-standing or run along a building or wall.
  • Can be used for many different lesser uses from seating to garden games area. 

Image – Pintrest 


  • Often over looked as a source of shade 
  • Natural all year round feature in the garden 

Oliver's Top 6 - Early Summer

In this second Top 6 post Oliver will select his top 6 bomb proof plants for early summer flowers. 

All images below from Crocus.co.uk

Geranium x Johnsonii (Geranium Johnson’s Blue)

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii

Valerian officinalis

Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ 

Libertia grandiflora

Campanula persicfolia var. alba

Note: Always check your soil type and sunlight conditions before you buy any plant as this will determine if the plant will thrive in your garden. 

We are delighted to announce that we have been selected to re design one of the internal courtyards within Orpington Hospital.

At the centre of the courtyard will be a new well-being hub designed by Wilby Burnett. The new hub for NHS staff to use that will also double up as a meeting space.

The new hub will be sorrowed by a new garden (our domain) for staff to sit and relax in. The garden will be viewable from the hospital windows as well as inside the hub itself.

Oliver's Top 6 - Winter Interest

In this new style of post Oliver will select his top 6 bomb proof plants / shrubs for winter interest.  

All images below from Crocus.co.uk

Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Primavera’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Fontäne’

Galanthus nivalis

Helleborus hybridus Harvington double white

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Sarcococca confusa

Note: Always check your soil type and sunlight conditions before you buy any plant as this will determine if the plant will thrive in your garden. 

We are pleased to announce that we have now opened a studio in the heart of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.

We are looking forwards to getting to know everyone in the town and expanding our portfolio of gardens in the local area.

This new studio will undertake work in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

To mark the opening of the studio we are offering free garden consultations and meetings within 50 miles of Tetbury up until the New Year when this will reduce to 10 miles from Tetbury until 01/02/2022 (this excludes weekend consultations).

Contact details for the studio are below:

Some of our clients do their house and garden renovations together. They come to us saying they would like us to work with the builder who is renovating their house so they can construct the new garden too.

The key thing to understand is although a builder is highly skilled in their specific craft when it comes to gardens you need a landscaper to undertake the construction.

Let me explain a bit more landscapers are incredibly skilled people well versed in exterior hard landscaping and critical they understand plants and how to prepare and protect the soil during construction so they can thrive. They can also make sure the garden can withstand the elements. Landscapers know how to correctly install drainage and prevent land movement. Landscapers also know how to prepare the planting beds to ensure plants and trees thrive, if prepared incorrectly all the soft landscaping could suffer or die as a result. It is also far better to use the right team with the correct skills for the project rater than using the wrong one to make it more efficient.

However, there is one exception as there are building companies who have a building team and a separate landscaping team. This landscaping team will be experienced in planting, drainage and the intricacies that building gardens involve. If you have one of these companies lined up then please go ahead!

If you are undertaking building work for example adding an extension or building a entire new home sometimes builders will price to include a bit of hard landscaping by new doors so you have something to step out onto. Our advice wild be don’t allow them to do it. Usually the paving will not be constructed correctly and break within a few years. Little care is also taken to the areas around the property and you may be discovering rubble and other discarded construction materials under your lawn and flowerbeds for many years to come. To avoid working through this mess use a landscaper and the work will last for a long time rather than just a few years.

If the reasoning behind getting the builder to construct some hard landscaping as it will save you money. This is rarely true as said above you may be getting someone in to redo the work in a few years time when it has broken due to poor contraction. Waiting and doing it once is always better than doing the job cheaply and then having to re-do it a few years down the line.

If once you have done your bidding work you can’t afford to do the landscaping imminently it is worth working with a designer to come up with a plan you can execute later with a landscaper. This way you can maximise the opportunity of making the garden as good as the home you have created.

It is therefore vials important that when doing landscaping you get a landscaper to do the work rater than you’re builder.

We work with fantastic landscapers to bring our designs to reality. If you are just looking for a landscaper and not a designer then check out BALI or APL who have lists of repeatable landscapers in your area.

When should you start planning your new garden?

There is no set time of year that we can say is a good time to start just when you are ready. Larger gardens are often more time consuming to design and also to build so will take much longer than a small urban garden.

If the garden is part of an entire house renovation then it is wise to speak to a garden designer about putting a design together once you have received planning for the works to the house. Once the design has been completed you can choose to progress with it at the same time as the renovations or wait a few years until you are ready to progress with the garden.

There are a number of benefits of working in this way. The main one being that sometimes builders will include some hard landscaping around the house or new extension as part of the build cost. There is then a rush to decide how bit it can be or where it should be without considering the rest of the garden. This then leads to compromises when designing the garden. These compromises could include material choice or a missed design opportunity.

When is the best time to build your new garden?

There is never a bad time of year to build the garden as works can take place all year round. The best time to plant is October – April. However, you can plant thought the summer (plants will need lots of watering) and winter.

Planting can often be in phases. For example Perennials, trees, shrubs may be planted in April and then bulbs to provide spring could could then be planted after. Best time to do bulbs is October – December.

If you want your garden completed by next summer when should you start planning it?

As a result of the disruption caused by BREXIT and the increase in demand for gardens brought about by the pandemic there is long lead times for certain materials, plants and contractors.

This has made future planning essential when planning your new garden. In short if you want your garden completed by next summer then you need to start giving it some thought now! From initial meeting the production of a design can take 6-7 weeks particularly if a land survey is required. However, if you may be keen to get going and we appreciate that. It is still important not to rush things though as a good design and details takes time and thought to evolve.

Pro Landscaper 30 Under 30 Update

In 2019 our Director Oliver was selected as one of the Pro Landscaper 30 under 30. In the April issues of the Pro Landscaper magazine Oliver is interviewed about his time at the world famous garden, Great Dixter in Sussex and building up our practice in the pandemic.

Read the full article below:

The discussion around the use of peat in our gardens has been going on for a while. In this post we aim to create a short summary to explain the peat problem and also offer some solutions and alternative products to try and combat it.

The peat issue

When you are faced with the many different compost options at the garden centre you will notice lots of them contain peat as a component in the mixes. Peat is a natural material that can be found in peat bogs. Peat bogs are intentionally rare habitats that support a wide range of wildlife. When it rains the peat bogs can soak up all the rainfall and release it slowly helping to mitigate flooding. Peat bogs also help to store a lot of carbon, for example the peat bogs in the UK store tree billion toons of carbon. This is more carbon that the carbon that is stored in the forests in Germany, France and the UK put together. In order to extract peat from the peat bogs to use in compost it needs to be dug up. the process of digging up peat flows oxygen to get in it and therefore allows the carbon that was stored in the bog to enter the atmosphere. This then will go onto harm the environment.

What to do

The solution is simple, when you are in the garden centre buy compost that says peat free. Most big garden centres will have a peat free option somewhere. A good brand to look for is Dalefoot Compost a British company based in the Lake District that just sells peat free!

However, some people may feel that they want to be even more environmentally conscious and make their own. This is incredibly easy to do just put all your grass cuttings, plant cuttings, hedge cuttings, food waste on a heap leave it to root down and then you get fantastic compost for free!

By stopping buying peat composts you are helping the environment and biodiverse wildlife habitats. What could be a better thing to do for our planet!

As part of our climate series over on our instagram we addressed the issue of plastic pots. This blog post is a summary of the discussion that can also be read on our instagram!

Plastic pots what’s the issue?

What if we told you every year 500 million plastic pots are in circulation in the horticulture industry every year in the UK!

This issue is when we or you go to a nursery of garden centre and buy our pants they all come in plastic pots most of witch are black. Once we have planted the plant in the ground the plastic pot becomes redundant. The natural path is for you to put it in the bin. However, if you bin a black pot the recycling technology will not pick it up so it will go to landfill. Great use of plastic! This ultimately means lots of plastic pots unfortunately end up in landfill taking decades to break down and making more needing to be produced.

I was on a good friend Marc O’neill’s instagram and I saw on his story that he found a plastic pot wash up on a Kent beach. The thought our plastic posts are ending up in the ocean is horrifying so we need to do something to sort this issue out!

The Solution!

We had an incredible response on Instagram with solutions and it was great to find so many people are thinking about the issue and making small changes to their businesses to help play a small role in solving the problem.

  • Architectural Plants in West Sussex offer you vouchers to spend in the nursery when you return your plastic pot for them to reuse
  • Great Dixter Nursery will dispatch there plants in newspaper if you order them by post allowing them to reuse the posts. They are also open to people returning there pots once they have planted there Dixter plants!
  • Steve Edney (Head Gardener at the Salutation in Sandwich) uses Viposts. These are made out of natural materials so are biodegradable. You can use them a few times to grow plants in before they break down so are not a single use item.
  • You can also use other things to grow platens in e.g. old tin cans or plastic food pots. This helps to prolong there life instead of just going straight in the bin!
  • Howard Nurseries also suggested that maybe field grown perennials could be the answer to supply in winter to reduce posts. I know Christopher Lloyd used to grow in terracotta post and then wrap the plant in newspaper for costumers to take home so he could re use the terracotta pot.
  • The Hairy Pot company apparently grow in a pot made from waste coir fibres bound with natural latex. You can plant them straight in the ground in the pot and the pot breaks down in the soil.

What are we doing to help?

When we plant gardens we can use 100s of plants each coming individually in plastic pots. Our policy is that we only buy from nursery who we are able to return the pots to as then we do not waste plastic. Also when we buy trees and shrubs we try to get them grown in air pots. This not only helps with there establishment in your new garden but also helps to reduce plastic as the nursery will reuse the air post onsite.