Table of Contents
Start With a Map
The first thing you should do when designing your own garden is making a map of the space. You want to include all plants, containers, water features, and anything else that fits the area. This will be an invaluable resource when it comes time to design your garden, so don't skip this step!
It's not hard to draw a sketch of what you have in mind for your garden. For starters, the most intuitive way to begin planning out how to design your garden is with pen and paper. Be sure that everything is labeled clearly or that any symbols are defined in the legend at the bottom. This way, others can see exactly what each component of your plan means without involving guesswork.
After I drew up my map, I moved straight to the computer to design my garden. I already had a good idea of what I wanted and just needed to see it in front of me as an image rather than as lines on paper.
This is useful because you can move things around until everything looks just right! You can take into account that plants won't be the same size for each planting area and so forth. The picture-based approach also makes sure nothing gets forgotten or left out. Your plan should be checked and rechecked until there are no more questions and all aspects have been accounted for.
Consider What You Want
Before you start designing your own garden, think about what you want. Consider how many plants, trees, or water features you want to have in the area overall. Think about the size of the overall space and whether it needs to be divided up into smaller areas with fences or walls. Also, consider any features that should take priority over others, such as a small elevated deck or a fence around a pool. All this will help determine how everything is arranged in the final design.
You also need to decide which plants you want to use and whether they would work together well in a single planter bed or not. Be sure to pick plants with similar growing requirements, so they don't compete for resources like water and nutrients later on.
Once you know what you want in your garden, it's time to decide where each feature will go and how big it should be. Of course, the plants themselves will grow over time, but their current height will help determine how much space they need when they're first put in place. You don't want them to overcrowd an area and leave the rest of the garden with nothing!
I like using lots of bright colors in my planters and containers, so I went for a mix of reds and oranges, along with green foliage plants like ferns. It makes me feel cheerful just looking at that spot on sunny days!
Choose Your Budget
Even if you plan to DIY your own garden, you will need to have a budget in place for what is allowed and not allowed. This includes costs for labor, equipment rental, materials including soil, plants, and seeds (if applicable), and any additional features like lighting or irrigation systems that you want to be included.
It's important to plan for these things before starting because it will determine what you can do. If your budget doesn't allow for some of the materials or equipment, it's better to know that up-front instead of getting halfway through and backtracking on certain decisions or removing some features entirely.
Don't forget about ongoing maintenance costs, either! You can save money doing some of this yourself but hiring professionals to do certain tasks every year or two will eat into your overall budget over time. As much as possible, try to make sure everything fits within your pre-set spending limit as best as possible instead of splurging on certain features.
It'll be easier to work within a set range on this type of project, so account for anything outside of it!
Pick Your Garden Type
There are several categories of garden types that you can choose from. Some will work better with certain layouts and designs, so think about this first.
Here are some common garden layouts
Hardscape & Landscape Design with No Plants
These garden layouts include large fountains, rock gardens, or other features that make up the garden's look by themselves. This is a good option if you want to add an interesting focal point for visitors, such as a statue or water feature in the garden's center.
Renewable landscapes focus on native and sustainable plant species for maximum environmental impact and healthy growth. This layout is ideal for tiny yards since it usually utilizes vertical space rather than ground space that is mowed and watered like standard lawns. It also provides a habitat for birds and insects, which makes your yard even more attractive.
Traditional or Formal Layouts
Traditional or formal gardens are laid out in a symmetrical pattern with borders and clipped shrubs. This type of garden is more like an indoor space with defined borders, paths, and various sized planting beds. Generally, these aren't meant to be changed much overtime except for filling in new plants once old ones have stopped thriving.
A more creative approach to designing your yard is to choose an eclectic or naturalistic style. While these types of gardens do not appear to be as well-planned out as the conventional design, they will still include a barrier that is off-limits to the gardeners unless they want to destroy it all. With this layout, you can let your creativity run wild by arranging things however you like, as long as they appear decent. Remember to space the plants out so you can easily water them!
Some people like combining elements from different styles in their own designs. For example, I could add some curves and use taller plants than normal to create a more formal look closer to something you'd see in Europe. It's all up to you!
Choose Your Plants
Once you've picked the general design and layout of your garden, it's time to choose plants that will look and function best with your space. Plants are the main feature of your landscape design, so take some time to really think this through; there are several factors to consider here.
This is an important choice because it will dictate how much maintenance you'll need to do in the future. These can be especially expensive if they require special tools or fertilizers instead of common ones, since these may cost you more money than usual; think about what each plant needs before purchasing!
Here are three general categories of plants based on size:
Small Planting Beds & Containers
These gardens include potted plants or cuttings that usually grow no more than 1' in diameter. These do not require much space and can be placed anywhere on your property, so it's a great choice if you want to add some color without taking up too much room!
Orchids, bonsai trees, hanging plants, citrus trees, strawberry pots - the list goes on!
Medium Planting Beds & Containers
This landscape layout type includes slightly larger plants that will still fit into most yards but will need special attention once they become bigger. You may need to fence off the area surrounding these plants or turn part of the garden into stepping stones; otherwise, guests may accidentally ruin your hard work by accident!
Perennial shrubs like raspberries or blackberries, flowering perennials like tulips or daffodils - these are very common choices for medium-sized landscapes since they tend to do well over multiple seasons.
Large Planting Beds & Containers
These types of gardens are best used for either long-term landscaping or making large amounts of wood ornaments for cheap. This is a great way to make some extra money and make your garden even more beautiful!
These are usually best left to professionals, but if you want to start learning how to garden, it's an excellent way to start! The process of doing this is slow but very rewarding once you get the hang of it. Be sure to keep your larger plants well-fed, so they stay healthy over time!
Types of Plants
Now that you know what size plant to use, why not choose something that'll look good in your garden? Several factors will play into this decision. Just be sure that there is enough contrast between them all. Larger plants should have smaller plants surrounding them for support, but don't go overboard with using everything at once!
Here are some common types of plants used in gardens:
Shrubs & Bushes
These include small trees and flowering shrubs such as lilacs, ferns, or boxwood bushes. These all come in many shapes and sizes, so take advantage of this fact to get the most out of your garden.
One tree can make a huge difference; their roots can give shade while their branches provide shelter and privacy for you and your family. Plus, you won't need to use as many when designing your garden because they're larger than other plants. For example, one large oak tree could replace ten medium-sized lilac bushes! This is an excellent way to save time and money.
Annuals & Perennials
These are long-lived plants that you can plant once and then not have to worry about until next year. These include annual flowers like pansies, marigolds, or carnations; they're excellent for filling empty spaces between other plants. Once the first frost hits, though, you'll need to dig them up, so they don't die with the rest of your garden!
Once you have your list of plants ready, put them in order from most expensive to least expensive, so you know what areas are more important to design for. If this is a small garden project that involves just a few shrubs or perennials, then take the time to research your options thoroughly until you find something that strikes your fancy!
It's really easy to find out how much each plant costs online at places like My City Plants and UrbanStems. These websites display an interactive map and let you choose certain parameters, such as the type of plant or whether it's potted or not. You can also get an estimate on how much water and sunlight each plant requires to thrive.
Go Hard on The Detail
The more detailed your plans are, the better it'll look in the end. Be sure to include measurements of each border, where each plant will go, and all of the other things you want to add to personalize your garden. For example, if you plan on making a path using stepping stones or pavers instead of grass or mulch, be sure to indicate exactly how many stones you'll need. You can also show where any statuettes or large wood carvings will go, so they're accurate right from the start!
Once you've finished planting all the plants, go back over the master plan and check for accuracy. This way, you know what needs fixing once nature takes its course throughout the year. Remember, nothing is ever really done in a garden! There are always new plants to add and old ones to replace with larger specimens. Just take all of your previous work into consideration when you make these types of updates to ensure that the whole thing looks even better than it did before!
Stick To a Simple Scheme
According to gardening expert Robert Myers "Simplicity and elegance is key to a successful space."
The best thing you can do when designing your garden is to stick to a simple scheme. This is especially true if you're trying to make a naturalistic-looking garden because the one thing they don't need is an abundance of color. If you stick to using only one or two colors, it should look much better! For example, blues and greens will give off a cool feeling, while oranges are associated with warmth.
If you're making a formal garden, though, then go wild. These types of gardens work best when color and shape are abundant because this will draw the eye upwards towards the sky. Just remember to add in small amounts of green here and there, so it doesn't look like your whole garden was made with only yellows and reds!
The most important part of designing a garden is taking what you already have before you plant anything. If your yard is mostly shady, there's no sense in spending money on ten different types of plants that need at least 4 hours of sunlight each day. Get to know your yard first; then, you can take the next steps towards designing it exactly how you'd like!