Oliver Rutman Garden Design

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.

With International travel for leisure limited and 80% of people planning to do a staycation in the UK this year we thought it would be useful to create a list of gardens that you may consider visiting.


  • Kew Gardens
  • Chelsea Physic Garden
  • The Garden Museum
  • Barbican
  • Olympic Park


  • The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle
  • Sissinghurst
  • Great Comp Garden
  • Prospect Cottage
  • Scotney Castle

Surrey and Sussex

  • Great Dixter
  • Gravetye Manor
  • Charleston
  • Nymans
  • RHS Wisley


  • Bramdean House
  • West Green Gardens
  • Mottisfont Abbey Gardens
  • Hillier Gardens and Arboretum
  • Gilbert White’s House and Garden

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

  • Rousham
  • Stowe
  • Cliveden
  • Asthall Manor
  • Waterperry Gardens

Bedfordshire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire

  • Chatsworth
  • Coton Manor
  • Cottesbrooke Hall
  • Thenford Gardens and Arboretum
  • Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens

Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex

  • Beth Chatto gardens
  • RHS Hyde Hall
  • Hatfield House
  • Silverstone Farm
  • Houghton Hall

Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

  • Hidcote Manor
  • Kiftsgate gardens
  • Stourhead
  • Iford Manour
  • The Garden House

Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset

  • The Garden House
  • Wildside
  • Ston Easton Park
  • Athelhampton House and Gardens
  • Hauser and Wirth

The Midlands

  • David Austin Nursery and Garden
  • Wollerton Old Hall
  • Arley Hall
  • Maitreya
  • Morville Hall

Northumberland, Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire

  • Levens Hall
  • Scampston
  • Lowther Castle
  • Alnwick Garden
  • Gresgarth Hall

As part of being in the 30 under 30 Oliver was asked to be part of the Little Interview. This is a series of quick fire questions to gain inside into people in the industry.

See article below:

Why garden rooms?

Since the end of the first lockdown we have seen an increase in clients wanting to include garden rooms to use as home offices, gyms or spaces to relax in. Lots of the garden room companies have become inundated with orders and lead times have been long.

However, we are lucky to have a part time architect in our team who can detail garden rooms and other garden structures. This means a garden room designed by us can be included in a wider garden design and built by the landscape contractor. This enables garden room, paving around it and planting can all be designed at the same time. This prevents you getting caught up in lengthy garden room company lead times delaying the build of your room.

How much do garden rooms cost?

A good well built garden room with bifold doors, electrics, water etc can start from between £25,000 – £30,000. Particularly with so many people working from home and looking to work from home in future it is now seen as an essential investment and will look good for prospective buyers when you sell too!

Before and after garden room transformation in our Cambridge garden (Construction starts March 2021)

As part of the RHS Young Designer press coverage we got featured in a selection of online articles. Click on the logos to read further:

RHS Young Designer 2020

We are very exited to announce we will be taking part in the final of the RHS Young Designer Competition held at Tatton Park in July.

Our garden Coastal Escape is an intimate retreat. It combines plants associated with the UK coastal landscape with more unusual and Mediterranean plants. This exciting combination would not occur naturally but these plants would thrive together in a coastal setting.

The planting palette focuses on foliage, while flowers of varying colours, shapes and textures inject further interest. Structural, rounded plants are offset by those of looser shape to evoke an informal feeling. Groynes, rocks and boardwalk deck elements place the garden in a coastal location. A tranquil seating area is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the space.

We are very exited to announce that we will be creating a show garden for Macmillan Cancer Support at the rebound Harrogate Spring Show in April. Macmillan wanted to raise awareness that you can give a legacy gift in your will to them and this is a vital source of there charities income.

The design is a tranquil contemplative woodland garden where people can reflect on their legacy and the work of Macmillan.

The garden features a grid of silver birch trees providing a canopy of foliage through which dappled light illuminates the woodland planting. An atmosphere of calm is generated by the soft palette of ferns and spring flowering woodland perennials. A granite path is partly paved and partly unfinished to reflect the future support Macmillan hopes to provide. The water bowls, reminiscent of woodland puddles, provide a point for reflection and indicate that Macmillan welcomes donations of any size.

We have created a quick guide as to how we are operating during the pandemic.

This page was created in February 2020 and is frequently updated and renewed.

We are fortunate to be able to be able to conduct lots of our work from home so are less impacted than other industries.

We do however, have to go to site meeting and view potential sites. This is happening in person if you would like it to or alternately over video meeting software such as zoom.

If you would like us to come and see you in person we are asking that you fill out our Covid-19 form this can be found below:

As people have been spending a lot of time at home during the pandemic there gardens have risen in priority. This has created a great deal of enquires for us and the industry. In order to speed up our enquiry process we have created a short questionnaire for you to fill out so we can gather some key details about your project. You can find this questionnaire below and on our contact page.

We continue to monitor the situation and change our practices as and when required.

Pro Landscaper 30 Under 30

The industry magazine Pro Landscaper selects 30 individuals under 30 every year from the landscape sector. This includes sectors such as horticulture, garden design, landscape architecture, landscaping, arboriculture, soil science and many more.

In 2019 our director Oliver was selected as one of the winners of this prestigious award. As part of the award every winner gets a feature article in the November issue of Pro Landscaper. Read Oliver’s feature below: