Sunday, February 10, 2008


Many people shy away from 'designing' their gardens because they believe things must be drawn precisely to scale and in great detail. Actually, a fairly simple sketch can be quite helpful in planning a bed, border or an entire garden. Your design must take into account your individual site and conditions and of course, preferences for specific plants. Keep in mind the following design principles and apply them to your plan.

1. Unity – The various parts or rooms in your garden should be tied together as a cohesive whole. Repeating color themes or plant combinations helps to achieve this goal.
2. Proportion and scale – Very small plants in a large bed or large trees in a tiny yard won't be in proportion. Keep things in scale within beds and overall in your garden.
3. Texture and form – Contrast pays off here. Broad leaves next to finely cut foliage provide an attractive contrast. Different forms - vertical, rounded and trailing, should be combined within a planting.
4. Color – Use your favorite colors as a guide. Or provide contrast by using colors that are opposite on the color wheel - like purple and yellow. Green as a garden neutral fits in with any color scheme.
5. Focal points – Your eye will instinctively search for a focus. Use an impressive specimen plant, a vine trained on a trellis or an architectural element - a bench, fountain or bird bath.
6. Flow – This is a tough one for many people because it asks you to limit the number of varieties you plant. Choose a few varieties and plant in multiples (odd numbers are best). This will create a flowing design that is pleasing to the eye.
7. Style – Formal designs are symmetrical and use straight lines and geometric shapes. Informal designs are less symmetrical, use curved lines and a mixed color palette.