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Garden Design Tips

Garden Design DrawingA selection of tips and advice to help you design a better garden

Simple Plantings for Small Gardens

Especially with small gardens, don't be tempted to use too many different plants. Concentrate on a small group of plants that will have real impact. A clump of lilies or irises will be more dramatic.

Making a Garden Appear Larger

If your garden is short you can create an optical illusion of it being larger with a path that narrows in width as it goes into the distance. To further enhance the effect you can plant bushes or trees that reduce in height as they go into the distance as well

Avoid Hard Straight Lines

Formal straight lines and beds with hard edges tend to work best in larger gardens. In smaller gardens you need to add more interest with winding paths and points of interest along them. Curves can add more interest to planting beds.

Avoid Curves Being Too Tight

Curves add interest and help define different areas of a garden but if they are too tight they can look contrived and they will be difficult to look after. A good way to get a feel for how a curve will look is to lay out a hosepipe in the proposed shape.

Allow for Soil Subsidence

When back-filling or creating raised beds and areas, allow for soil subsidence. Soil that has been moved to a new area will gradually sink down. It’s height will be reduced by about a fifth.

Allow for Plant Growth

When planting initially your garden will look thinly planted. If you put plants in so that the bed looks full in the first year, by the second and third year it will be overcrowded and shaded. Most nurseries and plant sellers will tell you how tall and wide a plant will usually grow.

Account for Soil Condition

When choosing plants do take into account your soil condition. If you have an area that tends to be wet then consider bog plants and for a dry area plants that like dry conditions.

Allow for Plant Height

When planting beds don't forget to allow for the height your plants will grow and ensure the taller ones are placed behind the shorter plants. Obvious but easy to forget until things have grown.

Ponds and Water Features

Even in the smallest garden a pond or water feature will add interest and attract beneficial wildlife to the garden. If you can get an electrical supply to the pond then a fountain will add the pleasant sound of running water to summer days. Even if you can't get mains electricity to your water feature you can get solar powered features.

Garden Lighting

On summer evenings when you can sit out on the patio lighting the garden can add an air of wonder. Coloured lighting can look particularly attractive. Solar powered lights are available that do not require wiring, you just place them where you want.

Stick to the Plan

It's always a temptation to add more plants in the first year to fill out the gaps. Resist or use annual bedding plants for this or you will end up with an overcrowded bed that looks a mess.


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