Essential tips for designing your dream garden

If you’re always wanted to have a go at re-doing your garden but never had the confidence, then here are few quick tips to getting you thinking in the right direction. Just take a moment to plan it and maybe do a bit at a time. There are a few basic rules but really don’t be scared or overwhelmed, it is your garden, your space, you have it as you want it.

  • Think about what you want and what you like. Do you like contemporary or traditional gardens? To some extent this will depend on the type of house you have. A cottage garden may look out of place next to an ultra modern house.
  • Who will use the garden, children, pets etc? Do you want a big lawn for playing with the kids, a large patio for entertaining or somewhere to grow your own veggies?
  • Think about how much time you have to look after it and what your budget is to complete it.
  • Measure up the garden as accurately as possible, to scale if you can using graph paper. This helps you to get things in proportion and helps you organise what you have.
  • Play around with shapes and features on the paper. Maybe increasing the size of a flower bed, adding a new gravel path or a different shaped lawn. Generally, gardens are designed using a combination of rectangles and squares or circles and curves as a theme. If you already have a very angular house then a formal recti-linear design might work. If you have a house in a rural setting then informal curves might look better. Go with your gut instinct.
  • Use shapes to deceive the eye into thinking the garden is bigger then it actually is. Curves, zigzags or diagonal paths can make the garden appear longer or wider. Horizontal lines make a garden look wider, whilst vertical lines make a garden look longer. If for example you have a long narrow garden, then plan a curved or zigzag path, a straight path down the middle will make your garden look longer and narrower.
  • You will need to follow a few plant rules such as aspect (sun and shade) and soil type (light and free-draining or heavy clay) and pH. But other than that grow whatever you want to grow; it’s your garden so you have what you want
  • If you have a small garden, don’t include too many varieties of plants. It can look over fussy. Group a number of the same variety of plants together (this includes bulbs) and try to have the same colour scheme in a particular border. We try to plant in groups of 1,3,5,7 and 9. Single plants of mixed colours can confuse the eye. But don’t get too worked up about colours clashing in the garden, remember they don’t clash in nature.
  • When choosing your plants remember that red and oranges can make the garden look smaller whereas softer colours can lengthen the garden. You can create a false perspective by planting vibrant colours near to the house and muted tones at the end of the garden.
  • Give the garden different views and vistas with trees, benches or statues. This will give the impression that the garden is larger than it actually is and give you plenty of interest.
  • Don’t forget wildlife and ensure there is room for birds and butterflies as well as for you.
Photo by Pixabay on
  • Use reclaimed materials such as old bricks or paving they have more character and has a good feel. Try to use natural stone if you can and if your budget allows for it. It looks fabulous wet, which is most of the time in our British climate.
  • Keep your design simple. Over-designed complicated designs can look too fussy. Don’t get put off, everybody is capable of designing a garden, you just need passion and enthusiasm. The more you put into your garden the more it will suit you and the more soul it will have. A garden should be felt not just seen.
Photo by Marian Florinel Condruz on

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