GLDA 9 Designer 9 John Smyth

Designer Profile:

John Smyth
John Smyth MGLDA


Co Westmeath


086 229 2523

GLDA Member since:


Work Area:

Leinster, Connaught


Small Garden Design, Large Garden Design, Commercial/Public Landscape Design, Planting Design, Consultancy Advice, Landscape Contractor, Project Management, Public Speaking / Teaching

Specialist Design Themes:

Traditional, Contemporary, Formal, Informal, Mediterranean, Cottage

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John Smyth is a landscape designer, horticulturist, gardening teacher, and gardener based in the Midlands.

He has an impressionistic naturalistic planting style combined with strong flowing lines, and a light-handed approach to design. A deep and thorough understanding of gardening, maintenance, and horticulture makes his work unique.

John trained in horticulture at Elwood College Fife, Scotland, the RHS Gardens Wisley UK, ITB Blanchardstown, and the Botanical Gardens Dublin. He is a member of the Garden, Landscapers and Designers Association (GLDA), with extensive knowledge of landscape construction from his background in golf course construction and plant knowledge. John has also promoted House Castles & Gardens of Ireland regularly at the Chelsea Flower Show. Since 2009 he established and continues to manage the School of Horticulture at the 19th century Victorian Walled Gardens at Belvedere House & Gardens, Mullingar in County Westmeath.

John lectures on a vast range of horticulture subjects and specialises in remote garden design, planting, and concept design. With an emphasis on sustainable planting and materials with nature as its main focus. 











Design Qualifications

QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture Science ITB.
HNC Golf Course Construction & management Elmwood College.
Currently undertaking Masters of Horticulture, Royal Wisley, Surrey UK.



The Sunken Slate Garden

The site is situated at Empor, Co Westmeath. It is an elevated site with views of the surrounding rural landscape. The proposed garden cascades downwards from the house with three sets of limestone steps. It consists of three terraces of limestone paving with Donegal Slate walls capped in Irish limestone. The impressionist planting is tactile with purple and pink hues mixed with tactile grasses, creating a misty scheme, with Amelanchier multi-stem trees and Euphorbia creating a permanent structure.

The client was a busy professional family with 4 young children. They decided it was time to create a private space close to the house but had an issue visualising their requirements.

Due to the cold winds and elevation of the site, it is important to create some shielding to protect the garden, a warm area to sit which would create a microclimate. An area for the children to play football that is in view but not interfering with the planting.

Terraces which will allow for entertaining and reading, perhaps different seating areas. The planting is left to the designer as there is no plant knowledge. The planting will need to be hardy due to the wind and cold, so herbaceous perennials with deciduous specimen trees. Bulbs and flowers for the house were requested. Little maintenance with views of the parent’s farm must be maintained and views of the woodlands. Top-quality hard landscaping materials, preferably limestone with contrasting steps and risers, lighting, and irrigation.

High-quality lighting inset into walls and to upplight planting.


Primrose Cottage

The client family live in the beautiful limestone cottage in the rural setting of Westmeath, the views of a quaint 19th century church set amongst open farmlands. They have always dreamt of having a nice garden but never had the opportunity to fulfill that goal. In summer 2021 they decided the time was right. Their brief was as follows.

  • Entertainment area large enough to sit 6 people comfortably
  • Raised borders with screening
  • Pergolas for growing climbers and roses
  • A place to sit and read away from the sun
  • No maintenance screening to the left side of the garden
  • Lush perennials and bamboo with low maintenance
  • Steps to extend out to create an upper tier with paths
  • A lawn area
  • Some formal dwarf hedging
  • Luxurious hard-wearing paving
  • Spring bulbs to include snowdrops and tulips


John's vision and technical skills led to an engaging and exciting experience for the entire family. A true artist. John listened to our ideas and kept the pressure on, which was important to engage many contractors. As a result of the very challenging shape, dimensions, and aspect of our garden (south-facing), he designed a garden far beyond anything we could have imagined. The garden he produced, and project managed, is utterly beautiful, aesthetically flawless, and we adore it. Every spring bulb, plant and specimen was selected with care and expertise. Delight to work with.

Edmond Stephens

Our new family garden was designed by John. Right from the start John involved all our family with a process which was exciting and engaging. His technical skills are outstanding, and we love the way he made it fun. The garden has been transformed into an outdoor space that suits our needs. Beautiful plantings and materials create a sense of connection. We enjoyed his connection with the project, his commitment to see the job done, and we love how our garden turned out. We would recommend John to design any garden quite frankly anywhere. He keeps in contact offering advice, maintenance and tweaks and is always welcome.

Tony Keegan

John Smyth had done some work for us many years ago and we got him back last year to work on a circular paving project. John is great fun, very enthusiastic and has great vision. He gets very excited about every project he is on. Sometimes his excitement is bigger than ours. John did a fabulous job in helping us design a unique space and only recommends the best in the business to carry out the work. He will only stand over work which is implemented correctly by competent contractors. We were delighted with our finished product, again he is fun, and I would highly recommend him to anyone. He is very loyal and came back several times to make sure everything was going ok. Best of luck John.

Geraldine Langtry

John designed our garden, and we couldn’t be happier with the result. He provided us with a very detailed plan and overview of the works which gave us a clear vision of what the result would be. We decided to do some of the works ourselves and he was always available to advise on the next stage up to and after project completion. We are thrilled with our garden!

Grace Kelly

When we asked John to design our new build we were at the end of our tether. Our third and last planning application, relief, it only took 4 years (nightmare). Three different sites. John nailed the design. A sensitive landscape plan to blend the borrowed landscape and views. He fulfilled all the landscape planning requirements and got us our application. We are so relieved we came across him, fast, enthusiastic and knows his stuff, I can now focus on the zen I will feel from this new garden.

Robert Forbes

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