Top gardening tips for 2014 with Surrey designer Nic Howard

PUBLISHED: 16:11 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:11 28 January 2014

Striking contemporary design with softened infill

Striking contemporary design with softened infill


Surrey-based garden designer Nic Howard is one of the rising stars of the garden design world. Leigh Clapp pays him a visit to find out what’s going to be big news for 2014

January is the month for looking forward and a great time to plan any changes in your garden. Maybe you are thinking of revamping an area, refreshing planting or having a totally new design created this year? Calling in a local garden designer may be just what you need to clarify your thoughts and to get the most out of the garden, with their honed ability to create a cohesive whole.

Based in Outwood, near Smallfield, 37-year-old Nic Howard is an award-winning garden designer and plantsman at the leading edge of landscape and garden design in the UK. His dynamic design solutions work for both modern and traditional settings and he has a real passion for the Surrey architecture with its wealth of elegant Arts and Crafts houses where a sense of tradition from Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens continues to permeate the scene.

“I would say from a design point of view my style is classic contemporary, and most of my gardens are location led,” he explains. “My passion is equally the design and the plants; getting the balance right. My work has evolved, starting more with grasses and prairie planting to being more experimental, incorporating an intensity of colour as well as a wider palette that is modern and naturalistic.”

Design solutions
What also sets Nic apart is his effervescent enthusiasm for creating gardens to be enjoyed and lived in, building a close working relationship with clients. “I am dedicated to providing a fun, professional service and relevant, innovative design solutions for everyone,” he adds.

Not afraid to use colour, in structural elements and the planting palette, there may be a rendered wall or bench in bright pink against a blend of burgundy and purple in a tapestry of perennial planting. “Our design solutions are breathtaking and always evoke passionate reactions; we put the ‘wow’ in ‘wow factor’, and we don’t do nice,” says Nic. “We are proud to be remembered for daring to do something different.”


Top tips for 2014

Nic Howard shares his predictions for this year

• Technology will play a bigger part in our gardens with features such as an outdoor kitchen, music speakers and all-weather furniture

• We’ll see a move towards slick, contemporary design with soft, naturalised planting

• There will also be eclectic, braver colours – and peacock blue will be particularly dominant this year


Need to know:

Nic Howard Garden Design, Little Orchards, Outwood RH1 5QU

Tel: 01883 744020 /


Get the look:

Here, Nic Howard reveals the secrets of his success in garden design...

• Clients are surprised to learn that a well-planned massed perennial planting actually takes less work than maintaining a lawn

• Ground-covering herbaceous perennials smother the soil, inhibiting weeds and reducing water loss

• Designs should incorporate colour, vitality and year-round interest

• Use combinations of longer-blooming and self-supporting plants

• Repeated planting creates harmony

• Use traditional plants in a contemporary way with drifts and exciting schemes

Latest from the Surrey