5 basic tips for designing your garden

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Designing or re-designing your plot can be really daunting if it is something you have never done before. It does not need to be taxing and should be really enjoyable.

Here are five tips that will help you on your way.

Plan –Survey the whole plot and draw in existing features that are definitely going to stay. Set the plan to scale on a large piece of paper (preferable on a surface like the kitchen table where you can access all of it and allow plenty of room. A cluttered drawing space is a cluttered mind and you will find expression, however naive, hard to come by.

‘’Being able to add flowering shrubs and graceful flowering trees is a great reason to make your flower beds wide enough to begin with’’

Elevation – Draw aside elevation. This will show your existing heights which in turn will determine where any steps will go. Take a bit of time over this and you will find the garden easier to plan. Clearly define your starting point – this is called the datum and must be a fixed point i.e. the back or front door step (I nearly always choose an access point) – The datum is where all other elevations are subtracted or added to. Now draw horizontal feint lines across you plan that would represent being 150mm apart. The 150mm is the equivalent to a rise on a step but you can change this to 200mm if you need a steeper rise but it pays to determine at the start and stick to it. Unequal steps are both dangerous and ugly.

                                   ‘’Don’t forget a focal point’’

The most appealing flower garden designs include accents that immediately catch your eye, a bench, an arbor, a gate, art or statuary can all be good focal points.

Larger gardens can accommodate more than one focal point. In a small garden, do something special to mark the entrance – a gate through or an arbor is a time-honored classic.


Aspect – Determine which way your plot faces. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, the positioning of one or more seating areas. Avoid locating a patio or bench where the sun would pitch between midday and 3pm on a summer’s day unless there is already sufficient shade. Secondly, your choice of plants is determined by the aspect in which they are to be positioned.

Budget – probably the most important single factor of the project to consider – the budget! There is nothing worse than having a grand plan that will cost the earth and never implemented. It will spoil your enjoyment and the effect. It is far better to spend the right amount of money and get the job done well than spread the budget to thinly and achieve a poor standard .

Facilities – If you require lighting then this will need some thought now. Map out the run that the wiring would take – it might pay to take advice here – you will need to bury cables at a depth of two feet so bear in mind, if you are not able to use a mini excavator then it will need to be done by hand. The above tip goes for any other facility that you might need like water and drainage too.

I suppose, the final part is enjoy doing it. It should be a labor of love and if you and the project fall out before it is done you will never love your garden and it will feel like a stone around your neck. Take on and complete a sensible amount of work in any one stint. This is especially true if you have to work weekends with the odd family function thrown in to cloud your schedule.


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