About Tim

Tim has become one of Ireland’s best known garden and landscape designers through his public showgardens and media work and now with an impressive back catalogue of constructed gardens.

tim austen garden design

“People are often curious as to how I started out in garden design? I was very lucky having an inordinate amount of gardening and artistic influence around me growing up: my parents are skilled, obsessive gardeners and both sets of grandparents also gardened and took my family to visit special gardens in England on our summer vacations, such as Hidcote in the Cotswolds, a garden that I still admire greatly to this day. I just loved being outside, exploring the countryside near the Sugarloaf in Co. Wicklow, being amongst nature, making dens with my brothers and helping my parents garden and collect firewood. One summer, when I was about sixteen, I cleared and created pathways through some ferns down to a woodland stream, installed a weir as a visual centre piece and built a little viewing seat. I invited my parents down to enjoy the new space I had created little realising that this was my first foray into garden design.

From the age of about fifteen on, with a bit of a push from my parents and a desire to earn some reddies, I got a series of horticultural summer jobs in nearby private gardens. Firstly, in the wonderful Fern Hill Gardens in Stepaside, Co. Dublin developed by the late, great horticulturalist, Sally Walker and then the stately period home, Charleville House, Co. Wicklow (where I first met Helen Dillon, one of my all-time gardening heroes – she was setting out plants in the walled garden for her client and all the talk amongst the gardening staff was about the arrival of Ireland’s most famous gardening consultant). Later on, I took an interest in environmental conservation, working in the UK, which led to me completing a Masters degree in landscape management and design, before returning to Ireland to work as a landscape architect. I’d finally found my métier.

When I decided to set up my own landscape architecture business in 2007, I quickly realised that I had an innate passion and pent up desire to create gardens and so I decided to have a strongly garden design (plant) focused angle to my design work that would satisfy my desires and would hopefully result in the creation of both beautiful and functional gardens for willing clients.”

The result of Tim’s approach is expressed in many designed and constructed gardens, a flavour of which you can see in the Portfolio pages. The style of gardens is varied but the influence of Tim’s background is evident in the colours, textures and forms that he brings in to his designs, whether they incorporate bold contemporary architecture or are predominantly natural in style. As Tim says “I suppose I like to arrange and organise things up front but also leave a bit to nature in the surrounds.”

Testimonials

Tim Austen Garden Design Family Garden Malahide

“We could not be happier with Tim’s design for our garden and how it has turned out. My concern before we started this project was that it would still look just like every other garden. Tim spent quite a lot of time working with us to get a good sense of what we wanted to achieve before doing anything and was just as keen as we were to keep going back over the details and plan as necessary, until we were all absolutely satisfied that the design reflected what we personally wanted and that the garden would look exceptional. It was obvious that he really cared about the end result also. He also knew when to jump in and tell us what wouldn’t work, which was even more important. The finished product was even better than we had hoped for and is a real pleasure to look out at any time of the day, every day. There are some very well planned details playing on varying height and colour. Every two or three months it changes as new seasonal plants come through, which just adds to how good it looks. The structural landscaping also looks great. He was also regularly available at night and weekends to talk through any questions or changes we were considering as the work was taking place. We are so glad we used Tim and his team as the designers for this project. His design and ideas were well worth investing in to get it right and we would highly recommend him.”

Bryan and Maria, Malahide, Co. Dublin, 18th August 2016.
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“After an initial consultation with Tim, we commissioned him and his team to design the courtyard garden space that we had created as a result of adding an architectural extension to our house.  We had strong ideas about the look and feel that we wanted to create as the architect had designed views into the courtyard from all sides:  we wanted an outdoor dining and relaxation space, it needed to look smart, with clean lines using natural stone, and have flexibility in the design for slotting in bespoke seating.  The planting needed to soften the landscape design.  Tim had to deal with awkward level changes and to contend with below ground services in his design solution but his plans and details for a series of steps and raised planters creating patio spaces at different levels were able to be implemented easily by our builder.  As Tim and his crew arrived for planting the weather became literally a deluge and we were really worried about how well the planting would take as planting conditions were far from ideal.   However, we are delighted to say that, one year on, we are truly enjoying the space especially in the fine weather and it’s been exciting watching everything come into bloom!”

C. Gardiner, Galway, 10th June, 2016
Tim Austen Garden Design Courtyard-Garden-Terenure-1

“We are delighted with the way out garden has turned out; we have a sweet, neatly organised space in which we can enjoy al fresco dining whilst watching the seasons go by through the changes in the planting.  Tim’s design and build team were at all times professional and we felt they were keen to deliver a highly polished scheme; they did and we are very pleased with the end result!”

D and M Glennon, Terenure, Dublin, 28th July 2015.
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”We wanted a low maintenance family garden which complemented our renovated contemporary house but that retained the existing patio, paving and as many plants as possible. However it needed a little bit of magic to bring the whole thing together. This is where Tim came in…

Right from the outset, it was an absolute pleasure working with Tim. We found Tim professional and design centric yet practical at the same time. Tim met us and listened intently & interpreted exactly what we both wanted out of the garden. The design elements Tim came up with were simple yet inspired :-

  • The re-shaping of the lawn gives the garden an even bigger feel
  • The introduction of a couple of new paving areas pulls everything together making the patio connect with the old path & the new shed
  • The sweeps and swathes of a limited number of plant species gives a contemporary feel
  • The growing bed allows us to dabble with herb and veggie growing with our young children

Tim’s team who constructed the garden for us in a week were just as professional and pleasant to work with as Tim himself. We are exceptionally pleased with the end result. We never would have achieved this fabulous garden on our own – everything from the clever design elements to the gorgeous planting scheme. As a result we would have no hesitation in recommending Tim and his team to anyone.”

S. and G. Gogan, Churchtown, July 13, 2012
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“It is through Tim’s creativity, expertise and professionalism that we are now enjoying a beautifully designed front garden. We had very specific requirements. Tim took them all on board in his highly original and creative design for the garden. On approval of the design he delivered very professional guidelines for implementation. I would recommend Tim and his team to anyone who appreciates creativity combined with professionalism, be it for a (small) private garden or bigger developments.”

M de Boer, Wicklow town, September 7, 2010
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“We engaged Tim Austen to redesign our garden. In the course of a few consultations on site Tim established our requirements for the redesigned garden and the constraints of the site. The final plan was agreed and Tim assisted us to engage a landscape contractor to implement it. We have enormously enjoyed the redesigned garden. Tim’s design has been a resounding success. In the course of the project we formed a close and productive partnership with Tim, had fun in the design and planning stages and now have beautiful, practical garden to show for it.”

G. and M. Elliott, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, November 22, 2009

Talks

Tim is pleased to give talks on garden and landscape design to garden clubs and other interested groups and societies or as part of public events. In recent years, he has delivered talks to the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland (RHSI) annual seminar 2012, Enniskerry garden Club, Kenmare Garden Club and at local fundraisers in Wicklow. He has talked publically on garden design at the Northwest garden show, Donegal and at the Powerscourt Pavilion garden centre (as part of Bord Bia’s Autumn garden campaign 2012 ), as well as speaking at Bloom in the Park on the garden expert stage.

You can select from the following talks or tailor-make a talk to suit your group’s interests, level of expertise or for a particular occasion, event or time of the gardening year.

Talks of 45 mins up to one hour

  1. ‘Drawing on personal experience: to inspire garden design solutions.’

    This talk focuses on Tim’s personal approach to garden and landscape design, looking at his background, experiences and influences to see how these inspire his garden design style.  The talk includes lots of nice pictures of design plans and completed projects as well as Tim’s show gardens.

  2. ‘To boldly go’ – being brave with garden design; revamping an existing garden with a new design.’

    This talk looks at the garden design process and how you can apply the professional garden designer’s approach to your own garden.  Tim illustrates the talk using garden design projects in which he has revamped existing established gardens that require a new lease of life.

  3. ‘Designing and building an award winning show garden at Bloom in the Park.’

    Tim recounts the tale of how he built his first large show garden at Bloom.  His ‘Inspiration from Mount Usher garden’ won a gold medal and peoples’ favourite at the 2008 show.  It is, possibly, the garden that is most associated with Tim’s work.  A photo journey through all the stages of the project including behind the scenes information on how the main elements were built and how the design and construction challenges were met.

  4. “How to build your Garden Designs”.

    A practical talk including how to specify and quantify hard and soft landscape materials for your garden or landscape design project. Illustrated with examples from Tim’s own work and his experiences as a landscape architect working on major construction projects.

Shorter talks lasting around 30 mins

  • Why design your garden?
  • Designing from scratch
  • Revamping an overgrown garden
  • Paving and paths
  • Choosing plants

  • Laying out flower beds
  • Water in the garden
  • Containers and pots
  • Colour succession

  • The edible garden
  • The winter garden
  • Tree selection and care
  • Gardening with wild and native plants

Haven’t got a venue for your event? Why not come to Wicklow and hold your evening in the Austen design studio. It can accommodate up to 20 people. Refreshments can be brought in for the occasion.