Planning for a garden wedding

Sheena Marsh of Oxford Garden Design reveals how you can spruce up your lawn for a celebration to remember

The only thing more satisfying than having your own wonderful garden is sharing it with friends and family. You don’t need a stately home with rolling acres to host a garden wedding, but preparing well ahead is the key to a successful, stress-free day of enjoyment.

If you plan on holding any kind of big family function in the garden this year, you’ll need to take some steps well in advance to ensure things go smoothly.

Firstly, take a good look at your lawn. This is going to be the shining centrepiece and will have to be strong enough to deal with being trampled on, having children running around, and possibly also tables, chairs and marquees on it.

Ideally, you will want it to look green and lush on the big day, as opposed to balding and yellow. To achieve this, start preparing as far in advance as you can. Several months is ideal but even a couple of weeks is better than nothing.

The most important job is to feed the grass to help it green up and improve its strength and resilience. If the wedding is soon, use a high-nitrogen spring/summer feed, which you can apply in granular form providing the grass isn’t too dry and is growing well. This speeds up the rate of growth and helps it cope with the extra wear and tear.

If your event isn’t until later in the year, use a slow-release feed in spring, then two weeks before the big day treat the grass to a single dose of liquid feed using a dilutor that fits on the end of a hose pipe. Spring is also the best time to treat weeds and moss so it has time to thicken up and re-grow. Mow the grass frequently to encourage strong growth and trim round every time you mow for a neat, sharp edge.

Next, consider your flower beds and borders. If they need sprucing up, you can buy seasonal flowering plants from your local garden centre. Choose things that will be in flower close on the date, and, if possible, that will match the wedding colour theme.

Last year, we helped with the planning for a spectacular September wedding. 

This border with its rich autumnal hues of reds, orange and purple was created completely from scratch to give instant impact. The combination of Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple,' Euonymous alatus compactus, Hebe 'Mrs Winder' and Nandina Domestica created a sensational eye-catching display for the special day - one which will be enjoyed for years to come.

Make sure all the borders are tidy and weed-free, well in advance of the big day. You will need to go through your current border plants and remove any dead flowers and leaves ensuring the beds and borders look at their best.

Usual jobs include putting plant supports in place, staking plants such as delphiniums and tying in climbers. It’s also a good idea to spruce up the garden furniture (or buy new) and get rid of any unsightly junk. If need be, screen off compost heaps or neighbours’ eyesores by using fencing, trellis or planting.

For an instant effect, fill pots, placed in prominent positions with vibrant summer bedding. Geraniums and trailing Petunia Surfinia are perfect for sunny gardens, whereas Begonias and Busy Lizzies will add a splash of colour in a shadier spot.

For a real wow-factor, add a statement plant in a large pot, for example, an elegant Japanese Maple tree or the bold, architectural Cordyline australis Red Star. To fill your garden with delicious scent all through the day and long into the evening, the tobacco plant, Nicotiana Appleblossom makes a perfect addition.

If you have time, and are feeling particularity green-fingered, start sowing sweet peas in spring into special long thin pots filled with growing compost, once germinated, plant into your garden, with a support to climb so that by summer the air will be filled with their delicious fragrance. Save a little money on florist fees by cutting the sweet peas as decorative little table vases.

Growing your own herbs in small pots as table decorations is a nice touch. Traditionally representing luck and devotion, gorgeous, scented Lavender is a great plant for this purpose. Alternatives include the herb of remembrance – Rosemary, Sage, for a long life or Thyme for courage (should any be required!).

Create a checklist for yourself of anything that you will need to do in the run up to the big event. Last minute jobs include, sweeping and pressure washing paving, weeding between slabs, clipping hedges, clearing away rubbish, checking outdoor lights and wiping down garden furniture.

Getting your garden ready for a wedding might seem a bit daunting so it might be worth getting a gardener to help you with some of the bigger jobs. Providing you start planning well in advance - as soon as you know the garden is going to be required - then you are guaranteed that your garden will be looking great in time for the big day.

Sheena Marsh is the founder and a director of Oxford Garden Design. For over fifteen years she has worked closely with hundreds of individual garden owners to produce practical landscape plans that result in gorgeous gardens.

For more information on the gardens that Sheena and her team have designed in and around the Cotswolds - and to get in touch - simply visit