Planning a Garden: Style and Design

Plan before you plant

The secret of a successful garden lies in the planning stage. Careful planning ensures that the end result looks good and suits your lifestyle. First assess the site and local conditions, and consider what the garden will be used for.

Planning a garden is rather like designing a room in a house. Both practical and visual elements have to be combined to give an appropriate result.

You may choose a purely decorative scheme, creating a garden filled with flowers and shrubs to give pleasure all year round.

Alternatively, you may require a garden with a more active theme, per­haps one which combines a child’s play area with a patio for outdoor dining and space to grow vegeta­bles and fruit, plus some decorative planting.

Careful planting gives a riot of colour even in a small area. Raised beds and wall plants provide a series of levels.How much time you can give to maintaining the garden is also important.

Choosing a style

The style you choose partly depends on the size and shape of the plot and where it is located. A large garden open to the elements needs a different approach from a long, nar­row basement garden. A garden in the country can be a refuge for wildlife. A town or city garden will probably act more as an extra room. In the suburbs you may wish to plant care­fully to give privacy from neighbours.



When beginning to plan your garden, do not concentrate on individual plants or surface materials. First, decide on the shape and size of large areas and elements. When you are happy with the pattern you have created, begin to be more specific about materials and start choosing plants.

What kind of garden?

The ideal is a garden that faces south-west so plants gain full benefit from long summer days. A north-facing garden or one shaded by buildings or tall trees is in shade for a lot of the day and so needs a dif­ferent planting scheme.

Choosing your plants

Climate and soil type are important when it comes to choosing plants.

One good way to find out which plants grow well in a particular area is to look at the type of plants growing in neighbouring gardens and in the wild. For example, heaths, heathers and rhododen­drons thrive on acid soils.


You may decide to restrict your scheme to one or two colours, or aim for a riot of colour at certain times of year. By choosing shrubs and herbaceous plants carefully, you can ensure something of interest throughout the year, whether it is flowers, berries or changing foliage colours. Spring bulbs and summer annuals add highlights of temporary colour to decorative planting schemes.

Break up the length of a long, thin garden with room-like areas of paving, lawn and beds.Shape and texture

You can mould the space in your garden by the position and growth of trees, shrubs and herba­ceous plants. You can plant them in a formal way, so that masses of foliage are balanced, or arrange them asymmetrically to lead the eye around the garden.

When mixing ever­green and deciduous plants, take into account the pattern of bare branch­es during winter and early spring and how this will contrast with evergreen foliage. Check the eventual height of any trees you choose. Fences, hedges and raised beds also mould the garden as they give changes of height and turn an open space into an enclosed one.


There are practical elements to consider. Decide whether to have grass linking the planted areas, or to lay paving stones or bricks, gravel or pea shingle. Plan out paths so you can reach all areas for weeding.

Think about boundaries — hedges look attractive but many hedging varieties need a lot of attention, so you may prefer to use fencing.

Group plants in pots for points of interest. They are movable and you can plant them to suit the season.

Step by Step Guide to Drawing Up a Plan for the Garden

1. Using plain or graph paper and pencils, mark in the house, outbuild­ings and plants you want to keep. Measure accu­rately and draw up the measurements to a working scale of 1/100 (1/50 for a small garden).

Drawing up a plan - Position trees, shrubs  and permanent plants.

2. Here the vegetable plot is placed behind an outbuilding and is par­tially concealed from the house. Add new paths and beds at this stage.

3. Take into account the height and spread of each variety when it is mature. Add hedges or boundary fences.

4. Water is vital for a veg­etable garden and an outdoor tap saves time and trouble. A small pond can be an attractive addition. Lighting makes a feature of planting schemes and allows you to use areas of the gar­den at night.

22. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Garden Management, Planning and Design | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Planning a Garden: Style and Design


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