HomeGardening Tips And AdviceHow To Design A Garden

How To Design A Garden

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Garden design is a very personal experience that frequently reflects your personality. You may not like what I like, and vice versa. Some individuals prefer neat and tidy gardens with no surprises, while others enjoy the excitement of winding paths, a wide variety of plant material, and the unknown.

Gardens are divided into three categories: formal, semi-formal, and informal. They can then be separated into a variety of garden types, depending on your preferences. Garden design might be closely related to the style of your home, as in the case of magnificent French chateaux, where the geometric patterns of the garden mirror the geometric building of the home, or it can be completely unrelated to your home.

Some people are fortunate enough to be born with the ability to create spaces in such a way that they are enjoyable to be in. Others lack this gene and have a tough time visualising how the area will function. It is critical to recognise that design is about controlling space and people moving around it in order to achieve a good design.

Patterns and the space inside these patterns are at the heart of successful garden design. You may generate a uniform look in your garden by employing geometrical shapes such as circles, triangles, and rectangles.

As a result, consider ground patterns and movement in your garden. What would you prefer visitors to do if they came to your house? Bricks, pavement, and plant material such as cut grass, among other things, can be used to create ground designs.

Formal gardens are symmetrical and geometrical, with tight rules about recurring patterns and plant materials on both sides. It is tightly controlled; plants are clipped, shaped, and handled on a regular basis, and it is now frequently used in small gardens such as court yards. The formal garden has urns, balustrades, stone, gravel walkways, parterres, formal pools, and framed views. There are no surprises because you are aware of what to expect.

Informal designs are uneven and less structured than formal designs. Plants are allowed to spill over structural elements like walls, staircases, and paths. Plants are permitted to self-seed and roam freely in the garden. Informal garden design is softer and full of unexpected twists and turns, so you never know what to expect.

The term “semi-formal” refers to a mix of the two. The formal element is usually manmade structures like retaining walls, walkways, and steps, while the informal element is plant material that is permitted to pour over them, relaxing their rigid edges.

There are many various styles of gardens to choose from within these three groups, including contemporary, Japanese, Mediterranean, cottage, courtyard, kitchen garden, and secret garden.

Contemporary is a modern style that wants to reflect the environment while also incorporating a variety of plant materials. The shape and texture of the foliage are just as essential as the flowers themselves. Hard landscaping is weaved into geometrically structured buildings, which all blend into the surrounding landscape. Plants serve as focal points, drawing attention to the architectural forms.

Cottage was a late-nineteenth-century fad to return to the country’s humble dwellings. Hardy bulbs, flowers, fruit bushes, herbs, and vegetables were planted. They were geometric, the colours were harmonised, and the plants flourished well due to the fact that they were heavily manured on a regular basis.

Mediterranean climates are not limited to a single region, but are characterised by scorching summers and minimal rainfall. They include spaces for entertaining, shade, scenic views, and dramatic shadows. To create a cool ambiance, hot colourful plants and lots of lush green foliage plants are used. Drought-tolerant plants are required. The popularity of evergreen plants stems from the fact that they provide shade on hot days. To reflect the sun, the walls are white washed, pergolas are created to provide shade, and terracotta pots are used. A water feature is frequently present, and water gives a cooling effect.

Religion and Japan’s cultural past are both represented in Japanese gardens. The symbols in Japanese gardens are frequently related to nature. Plants are tamed, and evergreen trees and shrubs are prioritised. They are frequently minimalist and very controlled. True Japanese gardens are introspective, meditative havens of peace.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating your garden, I recommend breaking it down into rooms, which divide one large space into multiple smaller places. There’s a front garden, a side garden, and a back garden, for example. You may then divide each of those regions up again once you’ve selected where they start and end. The recreational space, the grass/area, children’s the utilities area (which includes the compost heap and shed), the pool area, and the vegetable/orchard area, for example, could all be found in the back garden. Once you’ve established the areas/rooms, you can work on them one at a time, breaking down a large job into smaller chunks.

The Three Stages of Planning

There are three sets of blueprints you must construct to make an engaging and entertaining garden (four if you need an engineer’s structural plans):

  • A site analysis plan, a concept plan, and a planting plan, all of which are usually scaled.

The Initial Steps

Before buying plants and planting them, there are a few things you need do to design a garden that works. You are more likely to have a successful garden if you follow these guidelines.

Analyze the Situation

It’s critical to take inventory of the space you’re working on. Include the following:

Steep/flat levels

North/South Aspect


Summer/Winter Sun


Existing trees and structures


Views, both positive and negative

Conditions of the soil

Front and back doors are examples of entrances.

Lines of power

Cables and pipes buried underground

Washing Line


Garages and sheds

Are there are both paved and unpaved places?




It’s time to draw up the space now that you’ve taken note of the aforementioned. You can sketch it in rough (not to scale), but you’ll have to draw it to scale eventually. Begin by measuring the space to be designed, drawing it to scale (i.e. 1:100), and transferring all of the aforementioned information to your created plan.

All of these effects must be sketched out on paper in order to detect any tendencies. There may be a paved route leading from the back door to the garage, but everyone takes a short cut across the lawn, forming a want line. The paved route is used by everyone. So maybe you might pave the desire line and declare it the official route.

The concept plan is the following step, and this is where you write down your ideas. You may make it as wild and daring as you like. Forget about the money and focus on your creativity. This is the stage where you write down your aspirations for the future. Later on, your hip pocket will decide whether or not you are allowed to have them. Everything is possible, so don’t be afraid to dream big. You can draw this in any way you want, whether it’s rough or to scale.

The planting plan is the third and final plan, and it’s best if it’s drawn to scale so you can figure out exactly how many plants you’ll need. It integrates all of your ideas and depicts how the finished garden will seem. It’s the map that will lead you to your new garden’s construction.

If your site is steep or you’re having large elements erected, you could need an engineer’s help.

Consider the following:

Consider the nature of your soil: is it thick clay or light and sandy? In these conditions, what plants will thrive? Is it true that some locations are constantly wet and others are always dry?

Weather conditions in the sun

During the spring and summer, the sun is higher in the sky, and shadows are shorter. The sun is lower in the sky in the winter and throws longer shadows. In the summer, a plant may be in full sun, but in the winter, it may be completely shaded. Is it capable of withstanding this? Consider the circumstances that the plants demand. Are they full sun plants, such as roses, or shade plants, such as azaleas?


You should also consider the direction of the wind. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? Screens and hedges are one approach to deal with the issue, but what problems will they cause? Making the block appear smaller, creating shadows, and so on? It’s crucial to know because some plants dislike wind, and it’s pointless to locate the BBQ/entertainment area in an inconvenient location.


Views from your window or from your garden are really valuable. Some are bothersome, while others are welcome. If you want to keep flats/neighbors out, you’ll probably need a higher fence or some form of hedge screen. Alternatively, you might wish to plan your garden to take advantage of the surrounding scenery, such as a mountain or the ocean.

Lines of Service and Utilities

You should also be aware of the location of your services and utilities, such as clotheslines and overhead power lines. You are responsible for the repair of any gas, telephone, or power lines that you damage.

Garden Design Principles

It’s critical to place the proper plant in the right place to make a well-designed garden. This entails taking into account the plant’s cultural requirements. Putting a full-sun plant, such as a rose, in a dark location, for example, will not work since the rose will not receive enough sunlight to thrive. The goal of effective garden design is to adhere to this principle, using plant placement to generate mystery, tension, and surprise through the use of optical illusions, colours, and textures.

Tension, mystery, and surprise add appeal to a garden. Hedges, low barriers, screens, walks, and steps can all be used to create discrete ‘garden rooms’ with tension points that draw your attention along the route. A narrow oblong garden, for example, can be made more fascinating if you can’t see the rear fence because of an item (plant, statue, etc.) that obscures it. If the path is tight and then opens up into another chamber, it becomes much more exciting. If you can’t see what’s around the corner, a meandering path adds suspense to the garden. When you turn the corner and find a focal point, you’ll be surprised.

A focal point is something that draws your sight immediately to it, such as a bench, statue, or water feature. For instance, consider a pergola with a statue at the end. The feature is the statue, and it’s why you’re looking/walking to view it. A route heading through an open door that provides a view of the surrounding countryside is another example of a focus point.

The success of the focal point may be determined by how well the ground patterns guide you to it. Because you have gotten curious, you are more inclined to follow the path to see what is there if the pavement invites you along it, creating tension and mystery. Narrow routes urge you to walk fast and not linger along the way, whereas wide paths invite you to saunter, take your time, and enjoy the scenery.

A mild curve can be negotiated quickly, but a tight curve cannot, thus people slow down to avoid risk. Paving is utilised as a directing aid, indicating that you should walk this way rather than that route. Edging bricks indicate that this is a border and should not be crossed. Paving can also be utilised to reflect the house’s ground plane or other landscape shapes.

Long, narrow gardens need to be split up since they have a strong directional emphasis. Square plots are always the same. To remedy these issues, the geometry of the area must be altered. The round pattern draws the eye away from the boundary fence’s straight lines. You may also make a design out of a succession of rectangles with the boundaries included.

Another option is to create a 45-degree angle in the garden. A lengthy diagonal line will instantly provide the impression of space. The paving near the home might be done on an angle to highlight the entire garden’s diagonal line.

Gardens with a dog-leg can take use of the bend by employing suspense, mystery, and surprise to guide you around the corner to a focal point.

Controlling movement around the garden creates a unified space. The way walks, bridges, pergolas, steps, and terraces connect sections determines whether or not a garden is successful. Careless placement can disrupt the garden’s flow. If you want to draw someone’s attention to a specific place, there must be a compelling justification for pursuing this path in the design.

When planning a garden, ground levels are crucial. Steps may be required if a slope is too steep to walk down safely, and if the entire block is on a slope, the entire area may need to be terraced. It’s also crucial to choose the type of material you’ll utilise. Slippery materials should not be used for steps, and gravel may wash away. The surfaces must be flat; otherwise, they may be unsafe, and people may not want to walk along them, resulting in desire lines.

Because you move from one area to another by steps/paths/etc., levels help to generate interest and ‘rooms’ in a garden. Keep your levels simple and allow them to smoothly flow into one another. Don’t go overboard with the decorations. A slope leading up to the house appears foreshortened, whereas a slope leading down to the home appears broader.

Plant Selection

The plantsman, the garden designer, and the gardener’s are the three types of gardens (mix of the first two). The plants in man gardens are made up of a variety of unrelated plantings that are typically rare and difficult to come by. The garden designer’s garden is made up of tried-and-true plants that they are familiar with and how they function. The gardener’s garden has discovered that planting their favourite plants in a design makes them more effective.

You must examine the circumstances of your garden when selecting plants. It’s pointless to plant alkaline-tolerant plants in acidic soil or vice versa. It’s not going to work! Consider whether your chosen plants demand moist soils, dry soils, shade, sun, well-drained soils, or marshy soils. You’ll be well on your way to a successful garden if you do your study and set your plants in the proper locations.

Your plants’ height and spread must also be taken into account. Tall plants are placed in the back of the garden bed, and low plants are placed at the front. Remember that some plants have flower spikes that are much larger than the plant itself, thus they must be placed according to the height of their flower spikes. Because certain plants are bushy, make sure you give enough space for them to spread. To keep them in check, they may need to be pruned once a year.


Color is another tool in the designer’s toolbox. The experience of illumination, which is light, is referred to as colour. The way colours react to one other is determined by their position on the colour wheel. Color manipulation is a lot of fun and may produce a variety of illusions. The basic colours are red, yellow, and blue, and the secondary colours are green, violet, and orange. Secondary colours are created by combining two main colours, such example blue and yellow to make green.

Using light and brown colours can make a space appear cold or create distance. Warm colours like oranges, reds, and yellows can also make a space appear larger than it actually is. Warm colours can also be used to make a space appear closer to you. Because reds, oranges, and yellow are eye-catching colours, it’s a good idea to add white flowers or grey foliage plants to break up the visual chaos. Blue and pastel colours are also enhanced by white and grey.

One thing to keep in mind about the Australian sun is that the greatest time to view our gardens is in the late afternoon when the sun is less intense. Our bright sun fades the colours of our flowers, and the glare at midday washes out the colour.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of creating your garden, break it into sections and work on one at a time. Don’t start another portion until you’ve finished the one you’re working on, and you’ll have a lovely garden in no time. Gardening is ephemeral; it is a process that is constantly changing. You never truly complete a task.

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