How to Make a Good Garden Design

How to Make a Good Garden Design

Garden design is a very personal thing and is often an expression of your personality. Some people like neat and tidy gardens where there are no surprises, others love the thrill of windy paths, lots of different plant material and not knowing what is around the corner. There are three main styles of gardens formal, semi formal and informal. Garden design can be intimately tidied to the style of your house as in example of the grand French chateaux where the geometric patterns of the garden mimic the geometric construction of the house or it can have no connection to your house at all.

To create a good design it is important you understand that design is about managing space and people moving around it. The core of good garden design centres round patterns and the space within these patterns. By using geometrical shapes, circles, triangles, rectangles etc. you can achieve a unified feel to your garden. So you need to think about ground patterns and movement around your garden. Ground patterns can be achieved with the use of bricks, paving and plant material such as cut grass etc.


Formal Garden
Formal Garden
Formal gardens are symmetrical and geometrical and are strict in terms of repeating patterns and plant materials on either side. It is very controlled, plants are clipped, shaped, manipulated regularly and today is often suitable for small gardens like court yards. Urns, balustrades, stone, gravel paths, parterres, formal pools and framed views are all part of the formal garden. Plant material is allowed to spill over the structural elements such as walls, steps and paths. Plant material is allowed to self-seed and wander around the garden. 

Informal garden design is softer, full of surprises thus you don't know what to expect.

Contemporary is a modern style that likes to reflect the surrounding but also use a wide range of plant material. Plants are used as focal points to highlight the architectural forms.

Hot colourful plants are used and lots of lush green foliage plants to create a cool atmosphere. Plants need to be drought tolerant. Evergreen plants are popular because they cast shade on hot days. Walls are white washed to reflect the sun, pergolas built to create shade and use terracotta pots. Japanese gardens encompass religion and Japan's cultural history. Japanese gardens are very symbolic often the symbols relate to nature. True Japanese gardens are contemplative a place of meditation and great calm.

Planning

If you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start when designing your garden, I suggest you break it up into areas called room’s thus dividing one big space into several smaller spaces. For example: there is the front garden, the side garden and the back garden. 

Front Garden
Front Garden


The Three Planning Stages

To create an interesting and exciting garden there are 3 sets of plans (may be four if you need an engineer's structural plans) you need to devise:- Site Analysis Plan, Concept Plan and Planting Plan, usually all drawn to scale.

The First Steps

To design a garden that works there are several things you need to do before buying plants and planting them. If you follow these steps you are more likely to have a successful garden.

Site Analysis

Levels - steep/flat
 
Aspect - North/south
 
Sun/shade
Sun Summer/Winter
 
Shadows
Existing trees and buildings
 
Wind
Views - good and bad
 
Soil conditions
Entrances - Front/back doors
 
Power lines
 
Underground cables and pipes
 
Clothes line
 
Fences
 
Sheds and garages
 
Paved and unpaved areas
 
Patio/BBQ
 
Lighting
 
Drainage - run off of storm watered

Start by measuring the area you are designing, draw it to scale i.e. 1:100 and put all the above points onto your drawn plan. No - one uses the paved path. So perhaps pave the desire line and make it the official path.

The third and final plan is the planting plan and it is preferable that it is drawn to scale as this allows you to know exactly how many plants you will need. It is the road map which will guide you to building your new garden.

Points to Consider

What plants will grow in these conditions? Sun conditions
Also think about the conditions the plants require. Are they full sun plants like roses or shade loving plants like azaleas?
Wind
Making the block feel narrow, casting shadows etc? Views
Views out your window or from your garden are very important. 




Principles of Garden Design

To create a well designed garden, it is important to put the right plant in the right position. This means considering the cultural requirements of the plant. The idea of good garden design is to follow this philosophy, using the placement of plants to create mystery, tension and surprise by using tricks of the eye, colours and textures.

Tension, mystery and surprise make a garden interesting. One way to create these is to use hedges, low walls, screens, paths, steps to make individual 'garden rooms' with tension points that captures your attention on the way. For example a narrow oblong garden can be made more interesting if you can't see the back fence - that there is a feature (plant or statue etc.) that obscures the fence. A winding path adds mystery to the garden if you can't see what is around the corner. Surprise comes when you go around the corner and discover a focal point.

Paving can also be used to reflect the ground plane of the house or other shapes in the garden.

Long narrow gardens have a strong directional emphasis that needs to be broken up. A circular design distracts the eye from the straight lines of the boundary fence. A long diagonal line will immediately create a feeling of space. The paving near the house could be done on an angle and high light the diagonal line of the entire garden.

Unified space is created by controlling the movement around the garden. It is the way areas are linked together by paths, bridges, pergolas, steps and terraces that determine whether a garden is successful. Careless placing can ruin the flow of the garden. Ground levels are very important when designing a garden. If a slope is too steep to walk down safely, steps may be needed and if the entire block is on a slope, the whole area may need to be terraced. Levels help to create interest and 'rooms' in a garden because you move from one place to another by steps/paths/etc. 

Choosing Plant Materials

There are 3 types of gardens:- the plants man, the garden designer and the gardener's (mix of the first two). The plants man gardens consist of lots of singular plantings, unconnected and often rare and difficult to source. The garden designer's garden consists of plants that are tried and tested - they use plants that they know and how they perform. The gardener's garden has learned that their favourite plants can be more effective if planted in a scheme.

When choosing plants you must consider what the conditions are of your garden. There is no point putting alkaline tolerant plants in acid soil or vise versa. It won't work! You need to think about what your plants you have chosen require moist soils, dry soils, shade, sun, well drained, boggy soils. If you do your research correctly and place your plants in the right position, you are well on the way to a successful garden.

Tall growing plants are placed at the back of the garden bed, graduating down to the low plants. Remember some plants send up flower spikes that may be much larger than the plant itself, so they need to be positioned according to their flower spike height. 

Colour

Another trick in the designing tool bag is using colour. The way colours inter-react with each other depends on their position in colour wheel. Manipulating colour is great fun and can create all sorts of illusions. Colours are divided into 2 groups primary red, yellow, blue and secondary green, violet, orange. You can make a space look cold or create distance by using pale and brown colours. If you want to make a space look closer to you, again use warm colours. White and grey also intensify blue and pale colours.

Our hot sun tends to fade our flowers colours and the glare at mid-day tends to wash the colour out.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about designing your garden, divide your space up and take it slowly, completing one section at a time. Remember gardens are ephemeral; it is a process that is forever evolving.

0 comments:

Thanks for your visit