Garden Rescue's Lee Burkhill shares his secret planting hack for a truly modern garden

Trying to create a modern garden? Try this easy planting technique from the star of BBC One’s Garden Rescue, Lee Burkhill

Garden Rescue's Lee Burkhill poses in a verdant green outdoor setting
(Image credit: BBC/Spun Gold TV)

When it comes to gardening advice, we're big fans of Garden Rescue's Lee Burkhill. 

The 'garden ninja', who joined the BBC One series back in 2021, has dazzled us over the years with his seemingly never-ending supply of brilliant garden ideas – especially when it comes to his transformative and oh-so-modern garden ideas.

Naturally, then, we tend to sit up and pay attention when he shares any wisdom on how to plan a garden. And when it's an incredibly easy-to-follow plating technique? Even more so.

Garden Rescue's Lee Burkhill's easy planting technique

Garden Rescue's Lee Burkhill poses in a verdant green outdoor setting

(Image credit: BBC/Spun Gold TV)

I have, over the years, searched high and wide for the sort of garden border ideas that will instantly make my outdoor space feel effortlessly polished and... well, and less like I've planted flowers and shrubs at random.

Thankfully, Garden Rescue's Lee Burkhill has now shared his secret to success: planting the same plant in multiples.

A modern garden, featuring stone walls, wild flowers and a seating area (Lizzie Orme)

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Insisting this is what modern garden designers do in all of their award-winning show gardens, he explains via the BBC: 'If you really like a plant, use at least 3 of them in your garden. 

'Either group them into one area or drift them through the garden to draw your eye like punctuation marks.'

Why this tip works so well in a modern garden

The 3,5,7 planting rule is one favoured by award-winning garden designer Matthew Childs, as it helps to create a modern garden that has a purpose.

'I always keep to a consistent planting style that suits the theme or location of your garden,' he explains, 'and for a really modern look, I limit the number of varieties of plants, planting in groups or drifts, and repeating through the garden.'

Headshot of Matthew Childs
Matthew Childs

Matthew is an award-winning garden designer and has designed a diverse range of exciting landscapes both in the UK and internationally. His approach to garden design is to tailor gardens to each client and produce very human outdoor spaces which have a strong narrative, are a reflection of the people who use them and the surroundings in which they sit. 

Alliums in a modern garden, photographed by Colin Poole

(Image credit: Future)

For anyone unsure about the sort of plants to 'drift' through their modern garden, Matthew suggests you 'try using ornamental grasses such as Hakonechloa macra or Calamagrostis brachytricha dotted throughout perennials'.  

'I also love using large-leaved foliage plants such as Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ for dramatic effect and a touch of the exotic.'

Noting that you should only ever plant singularly when it comes to specimen trees or shrubs, he adds: 'Use structural evergreens such as Yew, Pittosporum or Ilex crenata to provide a backbone to the planting.'

Suddenly, it all makes so much more sense. And on that note, I'm off to inspect my garden borders... 

You can watch Garden Rescue every day at 3.45pm on BBC One or on BBC iPlayer.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.