How to design a garden

By: Laura Wallace Henderson

21 September, 2017

Successful gardening depends on some important factors. All seeds require certain conditions in order to survive and produce a healthy, mature specimen. Many varieties of garden plants grow from new seeds planted directly in the soil or from seeds started indoors before transplanting into the garden. Knowing when to plant seeds ensures a healthy start for garden plants. Using the correct planting techniques provides each seed with an optimum chance for survival.

Determine which climate zone you reside in. Climate zones provide information on individual growing seasons for different locations. Northern areas of the United States experience the coldest climate zones and the shortest growing seasons. Check your location by looking at the plant hardiness zone map provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

  • Successful gardening depends on some important factors.
  • Knowing when to plant seeds ensures a healthy start for garden plants.

Select plant seed varieties suitable for growing in your particular zone. Choose short-season annuals and hardy perennials for Northern sections of the United States, and select long-season and tender perennials for planting in the South. Purchase seeds that are freshly packaged and designated for the current year.

Provide a longer growing season by planting certain varieties of seeds indoors in the early spring. Begin planting four to 12 weeks before the last anticipated frost in your location. Choose seeds for indoor planting that have a long growing season and seeds that are too small to plant directly into the garden. Purchase seed flats or pots to start garden seeds indoors. Fill each pot with sterile potting soil to a level slightly below the rim. Press a few seeds into each pot according to package directions for depth of planting. Water your seeds after planting them. Place seed pots or seed flats in a warm, sunny location. Keep soil slightly moist while seedlings develop indoors. Help your plants acclimate before transplanting by setting them outside for a few hours every day for a period of seven to 10 days before placing in garden soil. Transplant into prepared garden soil after all chance of frost has passed.

  • Select plant seed varieties suitable for growing in your particular zone.
  • Press a few seeds into each pot according to package directions for depth of planting.

Plant large garden seeds and short-season varieties directly outdoors. The best time to plant cool-season vegetables is during the early spring. Cool-season vegetables, such as peas and carrots, tolerate light frosts. Wait to plant other seeds until all chance of frost has passed. Prepare the garden soil by removing all prior vegetation and raking the surface to form a smooth bed. Plant each seed according to package directions. Water well after planting and continue to keep soil moist through germination. Aggressive weeds pose a threat to baby seedlings. Pull all weeds as they appear in the garden soil.

Landscape Design Basics: A 6-Step Beginners Guide

Recent Articles

Everyone knows the benefits of spending time outside, enjoying the outdoors. As people get older, this simple pleasure can become more challenging. They lose strength, endurance and mobility.

If you want to create a really good design for your garden, it can be helpful to have a broader understanding of landscape design. I’ll walk you through my knowledge of Landscape Design Theory.

Despite their size, there are a number of landscaping ideas you can try to hide your propane tank in your garden. As long as you follow the design tips outlined at the end of this article, you can.

Above ground pools are becoming increasingly popular due to being a lot cheaper than in ground pools. Many people, however, struggle to make their above ground pool look nice in their yard. Let’s.

If you want to recycle materials in your garden, old tires are a great material to use.They are plentiful, often free or cheap, and upcycling them to something useful is better than letting them lie.

If you want to refine, position and shape different spaces in your garden design, there are 3 Principles you NEED to follow. In this video and article, we’ll explore each of the principles and use a.

About

I’m Matt (here with my wife Alison) and I love design. With a Masters degree and professional experience in Landscape Architecture, I want to teach everything I know – and explore everything I don’t – around landscape and garden design.

How to design a garden

Create Your Own Garden Designs with the Landscape Design 101 Guide!

8 Simple Steps to get you started on your garden design journey – for only $19.95 AUD!

OR… try the most comprehensive Landscape Garden Design Guide you will find on the Web!

How to design a garden

Learn How to Create Your Perfect Garden Design following the Garden Design Process – the most comprehensive, all-in-one guide you will find online!

300+ pages covering 10 steps from Finding Ideas through to Exploring Designs to Engaging Experts to the Tendering and Construction Process.

Everything you need to know to go from a Drab Garden to your Dream Garden – for only $119 $59 AUD!

How to design a garden

Last update: 23 July, 2021

When it comes to the design of your garden you have to let your imagination run wild. Let your ideas emerge! Mark the proportions between plants and solid elements and choose which materials and plants to include.

It’ll be very useful to follow standard design patterns since many ideas will arise from this, which you can adapt to your tastes and needs. As we know, designing a garden isn’t an easy task, so we’ll present you with some tips that’ll be very useful.

Your starting budget to design your garden

In most cases, not a lot of money is usually allocated to designing outdoor spaces since it’s often an afterthought and the last area of the home that’s completed.

The priority will be to invest in good quality soil since it’s the most important element to base a beautiful garden on. The second most important investment will be the trees and plants that you want to include.

Draw your garden design

Draw a preliminary sketch that allows you to visualize your garden. This will help you to make decisions regarding the space you want to allocate for each item. To make it easier for you, follow the instructions below:

  • Draw the dimensions of your garden.
  • Mark the areas where you want to plant shrubs and trees.
  • Include the four cardinal points to know the orientation.
  • Include the places you want to use for leisure and rest.

You can also watch programs that allow you to digitally plan your garden. Some programs let you upload an image of your house or patio to give you a more realistic idea of the space.

Control the space

Once you have the structure, you have to start assessing the distribution of the space you want to give in a way that is as functional as possible. For that, you must first consider the use you want to give it or how you’re going to move around the space.

For example, if you want to include a small flowering area, place it where you have the most hours of sunshine. If you want an area for relaxation, locate this in a pleasant place where it doesn’t get too much sun or excessive shade. If you decide to place a pool in your garden, locate it where it fits in comfortably with the rest of the environment.

Check the plan and double-check it to make sure you’re totally comfortable with it before you begin work on your garden design.

Look for references

Look online, research decorating catalogs, DIY magazines, and visit gardens that inspire you. You can even sign up for a course or guided tour of the most beautiful gardens in your city.

Find the balance

The important point for any garden design is to search out and find a balance. If you have a garden that’s symmetrical, without any contrast, it can cause visual fatigue.

In the same way, a space full of too many contrasts and movements can create stress or eye strain. The idea is to make it as balanced a space as possible.

Color, texture and shape will be key in this process. Knowing how to combine it well will add variety to your garden. It’ll bring movement to the design and generate visual contrasts.

Decorate with plants

First of all, educate yourself on the maintenance and needs of the plants you choose. Depending on how they’re maintained and the types you choose, you’ll achieve a flowering space all year round.

If you want a flower garden all year round, you should choose perennial shrubs. However, the plants that bloom with colorful schemes are determined by the different periods and seasons of the year.

The use of colors in your garden design

It’s essential to keep in mind the colors that your home and garden are surrounded by. You have to take into account the wall colors of the house, the ceilings, and the neighboring buildings. The color point will be set by the flowers and accessories that you want to include.

If your starting point is unity, different ranges of one color can be used to create a monochrome garden. To achieve contrast, it’s best to choose opposite tones.

The garden design process must be very creative. However, it’s also a process in which everything may not turn out as you want. You must be patient and correct any mistakes you make as soon as possible. Hence the importance of reviewing everything on paper and having everything under control.

One of the biggest criticisms of native plants is that they often look too wild, unkempt and messy. Grasses dominate while wildflowers struggle to provide the visual impact desired in a landscape. Wild is as wild does.

So how do we tame the wildness of the prairie? How do we design a native plant garden that doesn’t look so wild? Is it even possible? I believe it can be done. You can have the beauty of the prairie and all the benefits of a native ecosystem with a properly designed native garden.

Consider these fundamentals as you design your native plant garden:

How to design a garden

Butterfly weed and ornamental native grass display

Match plants to your site. Look at your landscape. Is it sunny or in the shade? Is the soil clay or sand? Evaluate these elements and choose plants that will thrive in the microclimate of your yard. Sun-loving native plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to grow happily. Otherwise look at more shade-loving natives. A carefree landscape begins with matching plants with climate. Choose plants that occur in the same or similar climate for a maintenance free garden. It has been my experience that this is the most important element in developing a successful native garden. Anytime you stray too far off, the plants don’t flourish and they require more effort. Planting a swamp milkweed on a dry hill or a primrose in a bog will never work.

How to design a garden

Design for succession of bloom. There are no Wave Petunias in the prairie or plants that bloom all season, so choose plants that will bloom in spring, summer and fall. If you go to the prairie throughout the year, you will observe wildflowers coming into or out of bloom. The prairie is constantly changing. Design with those changes in mind. Discover how native plants appear at different times of the year and highlight interesting elements such as seedheads for winter interest. Grasses can be included for structure, winter texture and movement. Little bluestem in fall accentuates the seedheads of the Missouri Black-eyed Susan beautifully.

How to design a garden

Summer Prairie Garden

Group similar plants together. Fifteen blazing stars blooming in the summer create a focal point in the landscape. Place them next to a spring blooming wildflower and a fall blooming wildflower and you have organized the display for year round interest. Use grasses sparingly to frame the garden or as a backdrop for some of your wildflowers. This makes it easier to maintain, because you know what is planted in each area. When weeding, you know everything else has to be removed because wildflowers will reseed.

How to design a garden

Kansas gayfeather and gray-headed coneflower

Keep your plants in scale. Choose plants that don’t grow taller than half the bed width. So if your display bed is six feet wide choose plants that are no more than three feet tall. A compass plant would be way too tall.

Define the space. A well-designed native garden can be enhanced with a border. It can be edged with limestone, brick or some other natural material. This element alone makes your native garden look clean, attractive, and intentional. Even a clean-cut edge can really help define the garden’s borders.

Control Perennial Weeds. You will save yourself many headaches by eradicating problem weeds like bindweed and Bermuda grass before you plant. It is better to wait until these weeds are eliminated before you establish your new garden, trust me.

It sounds so easy, but we all know that landscapes, no matter how well-designed, will take some input on our part. Beautiful gardens don’t just happen. They are the result of planning, development, time and a little bit of effort.

I am still learning too. My epiphany came several years ago after trying to grow dry, sun loving plants in a wet, sunny garden. It took me three tries to realize the futility of my efforts. Hopefully, you can learn from these basic principles and find success in your landscape. If you need information about native plants, visit our plant library, landscape designs or give us a call.

How to design a garden

In the Backyard Home + Edible Garden of Forks Over Knives Founders

HOW TO DESIGN A BEAUTIFUL EDIBLE GARDEN

WHERE SHOULD I MAKE AN EDIBLE GARDEN?

Although we tend to think of our home’s outdoor spaces mostly as a place to lounge, eat and retreat, look at it as an opportunity to maximize your backyard, patio, courtyard, or even your front yard.

WHY SHOULD WE MAKE AN EDIBLE GARDEN?

By now, even urban dwellers are growing their own lettuce, tomatoes, and peas in pots on rooftops, in sun-filled spaces, and in front yards. If you’re an organic produce eater like us, you know it is the freshest, most nutritious food you will ever eat. And if you need a little more convincing, check out our Top 3 Reasons to Consider Going Plant-Based .

Plus, the time you spend gardening gets you outside, which means you’re not using your home’s utilities. The big bonus for the environment is that the food you grow doesn’t cause any pollution in transportation. We also hope that someone who is going to eat their own produce may be a bit less liberal with the toxic chemicals on it.

Design the perfect perennial garden with basic planning tips from DIY experts.

  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Related To:

How to design a garden

Perennials come back to your garden year after year, bringing reliable color and form to your landscape. Here are some basic tips for laying out a perennial garden you’ll love for years to come.

Make a plan. Before you buy a single plant, put your ideas on paper (or in garden-planning software). Measure your plot. Draw in permanent structures like fences, porches or pools. Draw in plants at their mature size. Look at how it fits together – or doesn’t. Remember, don’t improvise your perennial garden. If you do, you’ll be correcting your mistakes with a shovel for years to come.

Match your garden style with your architectural style. Wavy-edged beds and an informal mix of perennial garden plants work best with a one-level cottage, a ranch house or a bungalow. A larger home, or one with strong design elements (like a mid-century modern or Italianate style house) will need straighter lines, and a more formal perennial garden design.

Watch the scale. Make sure your perennial garden is in proportion to your house or the structure that’s nearest to it. If your house is large, put in taller plants and wider beds. If your house is smaller, plant shorter plants in smaller beds.

Choose plants with an eye to bloom times. The best perennial gardens have color for as much of the year as possible. Choose plants that bloom in spring, summer and fall. Add some evergreens for winter color.

Think about color. There are no right and wrong colors in a garden. Plant what you find pleasing. Get a color wheel, a basic artist’s tool, to figure out what you like. Some color schemes to consider for perennial gardens: monochromatic, which combines shades of a single color (like pale pink to hot pink); analogous, which combines adjacent colors on the wheel (like red, yellow and orange) and complimentary, which combines colors opposite one another on the color wheel (like purple and yellow or red and green.)

Think about the future. Your plants will start small and get larger. Much larger, sometimes. When choosing plants, keep in mind their mature size and make sure your perennial garden design gives them the room they’ll need.

Height matters. Place plants in your garden just as you would people in a group photo: put the short garden perennials in the front and the tall ones in the back. Not sure how tall that little plant will be when it grows up? Check the tags to see what its mature size will be.

Put the right plant in the right place. Know the amount of light your garden will get each day and pick garden perennials accordingly. Put the sun-worshiping plants where they’ll get six to eight hours of sun a day, and put the shade-loving ones in a spot that gets less light. You’ll save yourself the expense and frustration of replacing those scorched hostas and black-eyed Susans that never bloom.

How to design a garden

In the Backyard Home + Edible Garden of Forks Over Knives Founders

HOW TO DESIGN A BEAUTIFUL EDIBLE GARDEN

WHERE SHOULD I MAKE AN EDIBLE GARDEN?

Although we tend to think of our home’s outdoor spaces mostly as a place to lounge, eat and retreat, look at it as an opportunity to maximize your backyard, patio, courtyard, or even your front yard.

WHY SHOULD WE MAKE AN EDIBLE GARDEN?

By now, even urban dwellers are growing their own lettuce, tomatoes, and peas in pots on rooftops, in sun-filled spaces, and in front yards. If you’re an organic produce eater like us, you know it is the freshest, most nutritious food you will ever eat. And if you need a little more convincing, check out our Top 3 Reasons to Consider Going Plant-Based .

Plus, the time you spend gardening gets you outside, which means you’re not using your home’s utilities. The big bonus for the environment is that the food you grow doesn’t cause any pollution in transportation. We also hope that someone who is going to eat their own produce may be a bit less liberal with the toxic chemicals on it.

How to design a garden

In the Backyard Home + Edible Garden of Forks Over Knives Founders

HOW TO DESIGN A BEAUTIFUL EDIBLE GARDEN

WHERE SHOULD I MAKE AN EDIBLE GARDEN?

Although we tend to think of our home’s outdoor spaces mostly as a place to lounge, eat and retreat, look at it as an opportunity to maximize your backyard, patio, courtyard, or even your front yard.

WHY SHOULD WE MAKE AN EDIBLE GARDEN?

By now, even urban dwellers are growing their own lettuce, tomatoes, and peas in pots on rooftops, in sun-filled spaces, and in front yards. If you’re an organic produce eater like us, you know it is the freshest, most nutritious food you will ever eat. And if you need a little more convincing, check out our Top 3 Reasons to Consider Going Plant-Based .

Plus, the time you spend gardening gets you outside, which means you’re not using your home’s utilities. The big bonus for the environment is that the food you grow doesn’t cause any pollution in transportation. We also hope that someone who is going to eat their own produce may be a bit less liberal with the toxic chemicals on it.