Garden design for Co Galway self-build

Have a look at this stunning Galway garden design on three quarters of an acre of agricultural land.

In this article we cover:

  • Description of the project and self-builders’ wish list for the garden
  • Garden design solution including setting out the paths and flow
  • Details of native Irish planting and wildflower meadow
  • Tree planting scheme and block planting details
  • Formal planting area details with raised bed
  • Hard landscaping details with pergola and bench
  • Project plans with compass

This Galway garden design project is one many self-builders will relate to. A young couple just built a beautiful home in a gorgeous location that ticks all the boxes – family space, room to work, and just as importantly, room to play. Read all about the build here.  

Three quarters of an acre of garden sits outside. Lots of lawn, a paved patio and a driveway, but that’s about it. The demands of the house build, work and young family combined have taken up all their available headspace for the last few years.   

There are lovely views of the surrounding countryside, and in the distance, a pretty country town, but somehow they just never feel invited to spend time outside using all this space.  

Something’s missing but they weren’t quite sure what it was. And so they called in the garden designer to draw up a plan. 

Galway Garden Design wish list 

Galway garden design
Geranium and Crocosmia

When I met this couple they clearly loved their new home and were very happy with its location, appreciating the stunning rural setting, the benefits of having family nearby, and the land’s links with previous generations of the family.   

The task for me as garden designer was to figure out how best to use the generous outdoor space to create an inviting garden which could become a link between the home itself and its location.   

The house was contemporary and striking, so the landscaping needed to reflect this aspect of the owners’ style.   

At the same time, they wanted to introduce a slightly wild, relaxed style  in parts of the garden while keeping the planting closer to the house looking smart all year round.   

Some trees were badly needed to bring height and interest to the space, with native Irish trees being preferred, and the main entrance needed to be enhanced with an interesting feature added to elevate this area. 

The solution 

The key to approaching a garden like this is to consider the proportions – an imposing house on a generous scale needs its outside space to reflect the scope of the owners’ and architect’s vision for the home.   

     So areas of hard and soft landscaping need to be generously proportioned and balanced with each other to produce a pleasing whole.  Hard landscaping generally refers to paved areas, which could include paths, patios and driveways, while soft landscaping would include planted areas including lawns. 

     For this garden design, the existing patio is made more inviting by a raised bed with colourful planting, which wraps around two sides, giving a sense of enclosure.   

     Rendered and painted to complement the house façade, the bed’s inner edge is capped with a strip of stone paving wide enough to act as extra seating.  Beyond this, planting at ground level brings a second tier of interest.   

Garden Plans

     Block planting is included, where each square features one species, including evergreens and grasses that will look good all year round with almost no maintenance.   

     The block planting contrasts with mixed species, which will include evergreens and grasses too, but also perennials which appear anew each spring and flower during summer before fading away again until the following year. 


Paving at the front door area was widened to make this area more inviting, with room for an eye catching sculpture surrounded by waving evergreen grasses. 

     A contemporary pergola flanked by mixed planting leads from the patio to the garden beyond, while a curve of stepping stones brings you on a journey around the space to a vantage point from where a swing seat looks out over the best part of the view. 

     Beyond the informal path, an area of wildflower meadow slopes down to a hawthorn hedge of our native Crataegus monogyna.   

     This super native plant is not only lovely to look at and brilliant for wildlife, but thrives on windy slopes and anchors the garden in its County Galway setting.   

     Again with proportions in mind, groups of trees are introduced to fit the scale of the garden – a trio of native silver birch, a row of dainty rowans along the driveway, and as the showstopper, a majestic native oak in splendid isolation, to balance the composition. 

     The layout plan for the garden is a carefully balanced blend of paved and built elements, softened and brought to life with colourful planting suitable for the local conditions.  

     As the trees grow and mature along with the owners’ young children, the family will enjoy their as-yet-built garden for many years to come, as the setting that their lovely home deserves.

Top Tip: A contemporary pergola can be left bare for a striking statement, or have climbing plants trained to grown on the uprights for a softer look.

Share and Enjoy !


Anne Byrne

Written by Anne Byrne

Anne is a garden designer and columnist, and her mission is to help you make the most of your outside space – while making the process easy and enjoyable. Anne believe very strongly that you can benefit hugely from having a garden in your life, and – many people don’t realise this – you don’t have to be a ‘gardener’ to enjoy everything a garden has to offer.

As the proud holder of qualifications in garden design and horticulture from the world-renowned Royal Horticultural Society, Anne has been privileged to work on garden designs for all sorts of clients, from private home owners to corporate clients and from hotels to nursing homes.

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