Garden Planning and Design


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Planning a garden regardless of the size, shape or location of the garden, is an opportunity to let your imagination run wild. Few of us are totally content with our gardens. We often feel that something could be better and improving an existing garden or developing a bare plot of land for maximum impact can be an enjoyable challenge.

What will you include in your garden?

When designing a new garden from a bare plot of land or re-designing on exiting garden make a list of the elements and features you want to incorporate, or retain, in the garden before attempting to put your design onto paper.

Let your imagination flow with possibilities of what could be included.

  • Do you want to include lawn areas, flowerbeds, herbaceous borders, trees, shrubs, a rock garden, wildlife area, vegetable garden, fruit garden or maybe a herb garden?
  • What type of Water feature would you like to have? A swimming pool, spa pool, hot tub, waterfall, stream, pond or birdbath.
  • What structures or garden art do you like to see? A trellis, pergola, archway, gazebo, footbridge, summer house, fernery, conservatory, greenhouse, garden shed, potting shed, dedicated potting bench. Do you like sundials, sculptures and outdoor artwork?
  • What style and type of garden furniture will you include? Metal, wood, cane, concrete?
  • Do you need a play area for the children? What will you include? Sand pit, play equipment, play or tree house, dedicated children's garden where they can grow the plants they love.
  • What type of paving and pathways will you include? Paved, concrete, gravel, bark, flagstone, shell or other material?
  • Will you dry your clothes in a drier or outside using a retractable clothesline, fixed rotary line or removable clothesline that can be taken down when not in use?
  • Will you include a patio and BBQ area or maybe a complete outside kitchen area?
  • Where will be keep the trash can, recycle bin, compost bin or heap, worm farm?
  • What kind of Irrigation system or watering system do you want to include in your plan?

These and many more ideas are possible. Size however will often determine what can be included in the final design. Narrow your list to include the things that are important for you to have and add other elements from your list if space permits.

The next step is to make a rough sketch of your garden plot and transfer this sketch onto graph paper to provide a scaled diagram of the area/s you wish to develop.

On your plan include:

  • Your house, drive, walks, patios and other permanent features.
  • Buried pipes, cables, wires, plus any overhead wires that may interfere with any future work you will do.
  • Mark in any large tress and shrubs that are permanent fixtures taking note of their height.
  • Are there any distinct sunny and shady areas? Mark these on your plan.

Note: The soil and climate of your area determine what extra drainage may need to be installed before work begins and what steps need to be taken to improve soil quality (acid, alkaline, heavy clay) along with local climate conditions (hot or cool, wet or dry) all of which will impact on the eventual garden style and selection of plants.

With your basic outline in place it is now time to play with ideas from your wish list.

There are several ways to do accomplish this.

Use one of the many software programs available or, if you find them difficult to use try...

  • Drawing and cutting out scale features that you want to include in the design.
  • Transparency film and a pen. Use a pen like the ones used for overhead projection sheets that can easily be wiped off as you experiment with your ideas.
  • Use tracing paper overlays placed on top of your rough design.

Draw in elements that are easy to position using a compass this includes rectangular or circular flowers beds, garden shed or pond. When you are pleased with your design it is now time for the physical work to begin on turning your garden dreams into reality.

Follow your instincts and trust your own sense of style to create a garden that's uniquely your own filled with the things you love.

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