Garden Design Ideas

Garden Design Ideas

The options: ‘bolt on’ garden design ideas and areas

There are many different garden areas that can replace or be added on to existing ones. You can predominate and take over, like the ubiquitous lawn surrounded by borders, but it could equally well be made over as vegetable plot or orchard. You do not have to have conventional front and back gardens – it’s your choice, you can have your garden anyway you like with vegetables in the front and flowers at the back with an enormous fruit cage. Anything goes and the choice is yours.

Herb bed

Herbs are health-giving, useful, tough and attractive and do not need very much space or work, see here for Growing Herbs – please refer there for their uses, requirements and how to situate them in your garden.

Patio area (scented!)

Garden Design Ideas The most essential area is somewhere to sit and relax outside – after all, this is one of the most important aspects of gardening. There are also plenty of chores, such as shelling peas, that need a seat and table for comfort. Hard standing, slabs or even gravel make this area available more days a year than grass and take far less upkeep.

A patio must be easily accessible from the house, ideally extending out from a conservatory or kitchen, or it will rarely be used. Patios in sunny positions act as storage heaters and help ripen crops of fruit planted around them – especially grapes, which can be wound round posts or over wires. Creeping thymes and chamomile will grow happily in -holes or between slabs and give exquisite scent when walked on. The patio is best surrounded with more scented plants and aromatic herbs to add sweet smells and help discourage flies and mosquitoes. Bird boxes fixed to the wall and under the eaves can give extra interest and pest control; a bird-table and bath will bring more bird life in for our pleasure.

Water features

From bird baths to pools and ponds, water is a pleasure to see and to listen to, it adds tremendously to the atmosphere -even a tiny pool with a wee fountain is a comfort to us. It is also a powerful attractant to birds, insects and wild animals. These all need water and will come to your garden if you supply it; once there they help with pest control and fertility. Birds who have ready access to water will eat fewer seedlings and fruit. A birdbath can be squeezed in every garden – position it where it can be seen from a window and is safe from cats. A fountain or cascade, however humble, is always a delight and can be combined with a pool or pond (though waterlilies like still water). Pools do not have to be very large to attract wildlife provided they never dry up.

All water needs a sloping edge to let creatures in and out and fencing if young children are around. With larger gardens several pools can be provided in different parts and a pond stocked with ducks will help immensely with pest control, as will the frogs, toads and newts encouraged if you do not have too many ducks and fish. Large ponds create micro-climates that can shelter tender plants nearby and throw up sunlight on to surrounding plants as well as providing an emergency source of water.

When making alined pool protect it with newspaper and old carpet first to prevent the liner being punctured by stones. Similarly, hang old carpet upside down over the edges to protect the liner from light and wear. Butyl rubber is the best as it outlasts all alternatives; however, as these are so much cheaper they will be used, so take special care to protect them and install them really well. Fill the pool and let it stand for a week to warm and to lose chlorine before stocking it. Take a bucket to a ‘natural’ pond and scoop up some mud and water for an instant ecosystem.

Salad bed

After fresh herbs, salad vegetables are the most valuable crop. Every garden should be able to find space for a small intensive bed for salads, and with larger gardens this becomes part of the vegetable plot.

Fruitcage and trained fruit

As soon as any space is available, especially on walls, fill it with fruit trees, bushes and vines. Fruit can be trained alongside paths and drives and fitted into every garden, giving fresh food for years for little effort. In the smaller garden, have a fruitcage rather than growing vegetables – the rewards are much better. Well designed, it can be a much more pleasant vista than a vegetable plot for more of the year. Even in a larger garden a big fruitcage is better value than a vegetable plot as it takes less maintenance.


A small one can be part of almost any sized garden if you plant trees grown on dwarf rootstocks. In a larger garden the orchard is the most productive area in terms of both time and money, taking little maintenance for enormous returns. Orchards can be easily combined with lawns, livestock, wild flower meadows or play areas.


Grapes are amazingly prolific and very attractive so some should be planted wherever possible. A vineyard is obviously more feasible in a larger garden but as well-tended grapevines do well in a town you may decide to make the whole garden into your own chateau! Vines can easily be trained up posts and over wires to combine them into almost any garden area; they can also be grown on most walls, but for serious production really need to be netted or in a cage. A vineyard is thus really a specialised fruitcage.

Vegetable plot

When talking about organic gardening, most people probably think first of the vegetable plot, and it is certainly very important in gardens of all sizes. But those with little time may be better advised to grow fewer vegetables and more fruits.

The ‘front’ garden

Though most effort is often put into the front garden, this may be more for the benefit of passing pedestrians if you look out over your garden to the rear the most frequently. Do pay attention to make your entrance both safe and welcoming — or not, according to your taste.

Bog garden

Although many attractive plants thrive in a natural boggy area and it is a wonderful source of predators, it is undesirable as it indicates low-lying, frost-prone and badly drained ground unsuitable for productive gardening. However, an artificial bog garden made over plastic next to a pond or pool will be very beneficial, encouraging many forms of life as well as adding to the beauty.

Rock garden

These have been out of fashion for a while, but are a very good way of providing a better micro-climate for certain plants. A well-made rockery with lots of big rocks with cracks and fissures and a stony, free-draining soil in pockets recreates the conditions beloved by the compact and pretty little plants native to such conditions. However, as has often been noted, many rockeries are more a way of disposing of some spoil with lumps of rock dotted on top of them.

Wildflower lawn or meadow, with bulbs

This can be any size and can even replace the front lawn, but be prepared for a lack of understanding from the neighbours! Most grassed areas are too fertile to make good wildflower areas and, if just sown and let go, the grasses overwhelm. Reduce the fertility by removing the turf (stack it to make loam for potting or use it elsewhere) and then plant out pot-grown wildflowers.

Naturalistic planting design

Image via Wikipedia

Keep the grasses and weeds down by hoeing until the flowers have established and set seed for a year or two, then allow the grass back in. Cut the grass after mid-summer once wildflowers have dropped their seed. For late-flowering wildflowers, have one piece that is cut in early winter instead. Bulbs are less demanding and can be planted under turf as they can usually out-compete grass.

They look best if thrown into the area and planted where they fall, but are neater out of season if they are concentrated at the base of trees and hedges. The grass must not be cut until after the bulb leaves have started to wither. Areas treated like this can be under trees, in an orchard or coppice, and make great play areas for children as well as a habitat for wildlife.


If with great good fortune you can acquire a modest piece of land, a woodland is a beautiful extension of the garden, providing many habitats which can also be highly productive in fuel and free-range livestock.


With more ground available, many people plan a paddock for a pet horse. This is exchanging a little grass cutting for a lot of horse care, but the by-product is great stuff for fertilising the rest of the garden.

Play area

Something I have noticed missing from most gardening books is any reference to children. I know many of us welcome them to our plots as we might a rabid dog — after all, they can do untold damage. But they are a cheap source of labour and rather necessary to the propagation of our species. The main problem is much as with other livestock —mostly one of confinement. As children are ingenious, unelectrified fencing is not enough; it is more effective to lure them to safer spots than to try to exclude them altogether. Swings and ropes, large trees, mud and water in any form will concentrate their attention on a suitable grassed or safe area.

Building in the least effort – ways of running your garden

A moment’s thought can save a great deal of work, so try to plan ahead, not only on the large scale but also in the day-to-day tasks. Put compost heaps at the bottom of slopes, not on top of a rise, as more loads go towards it than come back. Put your tool shed near your crops, not half a garden away. Move heavy things only once, rather than putting them somewhere temporary and then lifting them again to move them on to their final spot.

A little maintenance goes a long way; if they are frequently used any doors and gates that are hard to open and close waste more time in a year than you might imagine! Make all your frequently used paths easy to walk in all seasons, and easy to maintain, and without corners to cut. If a path corner is often walked across, move the path. Pay attention to the tasks you find you’re doing most often, especially grass cutting and watering, as time and effort saved with these adds up to so much in a whole year. And most important of all, as it’s needed so often, make sure water is always available, quickly and easily.

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04. January 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Organics | Tags: , , , , , | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Pingback: flower garden layout tips


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