Designing An Islamic Garden In Britain
You need to have clearly in mind some aspects of Islamic gardens for which you feel enthusiasm and which you would like for your garden.
For inspiration, look at photos and at web-sites which supply photos, video films or virtual tours of Islamic gardens.
You also need to think about the people who will be using this garden and what it will offer them. Will it be a very peaceful place for solitary repose? Or will it have a social function, like tea gardens in the Islamic world where there are nice places to sit, drink tea, eat food or play chess or backgammon?
Choosing a site for the garden
You need to marry up as best as possible your ideas with one of the options for a site.
Also, there are a few key rules for Islamic gardens, mentioned earlier, though these still give you much freedom for design. Your garden site needs to fit these rules.
You must have a water feature of some sort.
- For fountains or waterfalls or simply to keep a pool from stagnating, you need an electric pump. At design stage, you need to keep an eye on whether your site needs or has access to mains electricity.
- For a powerful pump, you need mains electricity.
- Another option is solar-powered pumps or battery-powered pumps. These are much less powerful and you may need a number of them. But solar-powered pumps are convenient because you can safely move them around and try them in different places. There are some solar-powered pumps where sunlight charges a battery and you can run the fountain on cloudy days or at night.
Rectangular enclosure / garden boundaries
Your garden needs rectangular boundaries which separate it from the nearby environment and provide some sense of privacy. You need to think how this could be achieved.
- Existing walled courtyards can be ideal. The Islamic garden idea can suit small courtyards or paved yards. Much Islamic garden design has developed around the courtyards of houses.
- If you need to create garden boundaries, wooden trelliswork may be one option. Another might be rows of regularly planted conifers or coniferous bushes.
Your site should allow you to make a symmetrical garden. There shouldn’t be any immovable features which will get in the way of this.
‘Chahar Bagh’ and ‘iwans’
While they are not absolutely necessary, consider whether you will include:
- Some sort of ‘Chahar Bagh’ shape. It isn’t difficult. It can be done just with paths or even more simply.
- Some sort of shelter on the lines of ‘iwans’ and pavilions. In the British climate you might be thinking more of a sun-seeking ‘iwan’ than a north-facing one for shade. Or maybe options for both sun and shade.
Consider whether a site would make these possible.
Sunlight and soil matter
For any garden, you need to assess possible sites for how much sunlight they get and the type and depth of soil.