DIY Garden Design: Creating Garden Rooms | Volunteer Gardener

DIY Garden Design: Creating Garden Rooms | Volunteer Gardener

July 30, 2019 3 By Kailee Schamberger



– Well, Mark Sandler
has a gorgeous lot. (water gushing) Now, it didn't start this
way, but he's had 17 years, an interest in interior design, and he has created the
most beautiful garden rooms that we're gonna look at today. Well, I understand the whole
interior design concept and garden rooms, but how
really does that mesh together, I guess, and how
is it different? – Well, I look upon plants as the furniture
that's in the room. Of course, there is hardscaping
and actual furniture, but the boxwoods sort
of anchor the area. Flowers and the
perennials, to me, are sort of like the accessories
that are in the room. To really tackle this project, I sort of felt like I had to
divide it into certain rooms, and with each room having a
different sort of feeling, and what is the room, the
area going to be used for. So when we moved
here 17 years ago, there were only three
mature trees in the lot. Everything else we've added. This area here used
to be a driveway that was taken out
before we moved in, but the dirt just was not good. I tried growing grass here,
and it just wouldn't grow, so I put down the pea gravel because I think it
stays neat all the time. And from this central
area we added the pond, and most of the yard is shade, so I added a lot of the
shade plants that you see. Hostas, of course,
grow well, hydrangeas. The fieldstone was
the first pond. We've had to redo it
about three times. It's a work in progress. There's always, you
make mistakes, and
then you figure out what you have to do to fix them. – Well let's go
take a look at some of the other rooms
going through here. – Certainly.
– One thing that I notice is you have lots and
lots of boxwoods. – I like boxwoods. I like just the, to me,
they're very architectural, and they have a
long history in use in garden design in
framing certain areas, and it helps sort
of lead the eye and create hallways
through the space. – Well, as we come through here, and I love the way you
have a gate leading us into a completely different room with a completely
different feel. This looks like an
outdoor party to me. – [Mark] Actually, we
had a wedding shower for my assistant here
on Saturday night, and it was the perfect space. It was shaded and
cool, and we were able to sort of set it
up for entertaining. – [Julie] Well, I love
the way that you've used all this pea gravel,
but I wonder, is there maintenance
involved with pea gravel? You've got birds, you've
got seeds dropping. – No, not really, and
that's why I put it down, because of it being
very easy to maintain, and then I felt like I
needed sort of a focal, so I created this rug over here
using some reclaimed bricks. There was a patio on the
other side of this tree, and as needed, I
would dig up portions of the patio and use them. I had this design in a
English garden magazine and dog-eared the page until
I finally got to this space. – Well, that is just a great
example of stealing a good idea and making it your own. Well, Mark, you
have a lot of things that were really
going for you here once you recognized them,
like this amazing tree. It's just really a great
foundation, I guess, for this little room
that you have here. Now, speaking of
working with things that just sort of
happen naturally, you have this wonderful table. I love the way it's
got moss on it. – That was totally
unintentional. I bought it at a gardening
store and put it here to sort of use as
a seating area, and it just happened to moss up, and I don't really even have
to water it or maintain it. There must be enough
moisture in the soil that maybe wicks through and lets it stay green. – Well, I love that
idea of happy accidents – Yeah (laughing).
– that work for you. Now you also, of
course, have fences here because your backyards
are sort of narrow next to each other,
and one of the things that you've done here
is solve a problem I think a lot of
us have, which is, how do you make a
fence interesting? – [Mark] Well, there's
a lot of fencing here, and I sort of needed a
focal point for this area to balance the other side, so
this is a gate that I built to give the illusion
that you could go into another
section of the yard. There's actually a chain-link
fence on the other side of that if you open the door. But I use it as a spring
and summer garden tool shed. – I love that idea. I think I might steal it. Love your hallways. I really like the stepping
stones coming through them and all the plant interest. So, what I want to know,
Mark, is what is your secret for keeping all
of this weed-free? – Hand weeding, lots
of hand weeding. I usually do it every
morning before I go to work when it's still cool out, and I try to tackle
a section at a time. If you maintain it
and don't let it get away from you,
it's pretty manageable. – [Julie] Okay,
well, oh my gosh! It looks like we've entered
the formal dining room. – [Mark] This is a
much more formal area. This is a parterre
garden that I put in. Again, I used some reclaimed
bricks to border it and the boxwoods, and
to keep it less formal, I put more casual plants, lilies and peonies,
and in the spring there are tulips in this area. – [Julie] Well, Mark, I
have always wanted to have some sort of formal boxwood
garden, but it's just a dream because the
maintenance scares me. – [Mark] It's not that
difficult to maintain. It flushes out spring growth,
and I trim it in the spring, and then there's another
smaller flush in the fall, and I use my hedge trimmers,
and I trim it in the fall. – Well, it's always nice
to have a piece of home in your own garden, especially
when home is far away, like Connecticut with you. So I know you made a
trip there recently. What kind of things
did you bring back? – Well, I grew up in
rural Connecticut, and where my parents live
and where I grew up there it's completely
surrounded by woods that used to be the
pasture land many years ago for the town of
Windham where I'm from. And there are just stone walls
that will just go on and on, so I brought back some
of the fieldstones that are nicely
mossed up with lichen. I also brought
some native ferns. There are three varieties. Mixed them with some hostas
and Jack-in-the-pulpit, which I absolutely love. I included those as well. Well, I added, so I
put in the dry creek 'cause I sorta wanted
a separation from
a more formal area into a more casual
area and built a bridge and created this sort of
woodland gardens setting, which has a nice
daybed for relaxing and a mixture of sculpture. – [Julie] Well, it's
very peaceful back here. Now, you just have
so much going on, and you've done all of
this yourself, right? – [Mark] That is true,
yes, a little at a time. That's why I try to
tackle a section. This area wasn't here up
until about the spring. So I add a little bit at a time. – [Julie] So do you have
any words of wisdom, any advice that people are
maybe just starting out, try to envision this
type of project? – [Mark] I definitely had, I
didn't draft or draw this out, but I have in my head,
I had a game plan, so I sort of knew
the different areas and knew the type
of space I wanted and the type of plants
to put in the spaces. Not to say that I
haven't made mistakes, and you put the wrong
plant in the wrong place, and it'll let you know
if it's not happy, and usually then in the fall, I'll dig it up and
move it somewhere else. – [Julie] So take
some tips from Mark. (upbeat music) Take a long-term look
at what you're doing, and tackle it one
piece at a time. Thank you, Mark. – [Mark] Thank you, Julie. Thanks for coming. – [Announcer] For inspiring
garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects,
visit our website at volunteergardener.org
or on YouTube at the VolunteerGardener
channel, and like us on Facebook.