How to design your garden:

5 top tips from award winning garden designer

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How to design your garden is an art that allows you to create a tranquil sanctuary or a stunning outdoor room right in your backyard. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a green thumb novice, transforming your outdoor space into a breathtaking haven is a gratifying and rewarding endeavour. In this blog, we will explore 5 tips to design your garden that will help you design a stunning garden that brings beauty, joy, and relaxation to your life.

Tip 1: Identify your vision and purpose.

Before getting your hands dirty, take some time to think hard about what you want your garden to be. Consider the primary purpose of your garden – is it a place for relaxation and unwinding, a daytime plant lovers’ space or an evening party garden (or both!). Do you want a stunning vista from your house windows, or perhaps a vibrant space to attract wildlife and pollinators? Understanding your garden’s purpose will guide your design choices and ensure that every element contributes to your overall vision.

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Additionally, think about your garden’s style and theme. Do you prefer a traditional English garden, a modern minimalist layout, or a rustic natural setting? Defining your style will give you a direction to work towards, making the design process more focused and enjoyable. This first part of the process can be the hardest to get going and if you feel a bit stuck or would like one of our expert designers to help share “the art of the possible” we can definitely help.

Do call our design team to arrange a consultation if you would like to start this process! Get in touch.

Tip 2: Focus on the practicalities first

An aesthetically pleasing garden is essential, but practicality and functionality should not be overlooked and are probably best considered at the start- adding them as an afterthought could ruin your carefully chosen design! Consider how you will use the space and ensure that it accommodates your lifestyle and needs. If you have children or pets, allocate a play area or designate paths to prevent trampling on delicate plants. Integrate seating areas strategically, providing spots for relaxation and social gatherings and particularly thinking about where the sun hits the garden at different times of day.

If you need a shed or compost bins, they probably will not be best situated slap bang in your main view from the house, so identify how big these need to be and see where else they might go. Putting a shed against the house is often a much better solution than the rear corner of the plot!

A well-planned garden will require less maintenance and deliver more enjoyment in the long run.

Tip 3: Use framing, focal points and key axes

These drive the shapes and views you want in your garden. We write more about these in our recent blog (SEE HERE), but in essence remember to use the whole garden not just the edges, and work the space around your key viewpoints, seating areas and features.

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Vicki Davis, RHS Gold Medal-Winning Garden Designer, shared her advice on common issues when addressing the practical needs of clients..

“Many people assume they can only place things around the edge of their plot, assuming the centre must be lawn, or work around existing planting beds and features- but it is best to start by working out where things might be best placed across the whole plot, identifying your walkways and sightlines independently from what is there now. You might well have to shift from these ideals to work around a tree or feature that you want to keep, but everything else should be considered ‘up for grabs’ at the start.”

Tip 4: Create layers of colour and texture with planting

When it comes to planting many people feel a bit defeated and anxious that they will not be able to keep things alive! There are plenty of well-tempered reliable flowering shrubs and perennials that will give you lots of colour and year-round interest if chosen well. Start by selecting the trees and shrubs you want to keep from your current garden, and then plot those that will add the key features and divisions in the new design. Consider the growth rates and soil/aspect preferences carefully as anything in the ‘wrong’ place will always be harder work to keep alive!

When it comes to adding the smaller planting, start with the style and palette you want before diving into the individual plant choices. Once you know you want (for example) “A lush subtropical low maintenance garden with purple flowers” it will be pretty easy to fill in the specifics with a bit of research or a skilled designer to assist.

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Ruth Marshall, CGLA director and RHS Gold-Medal winning designer comments “getting the mood boards right is the main part of the battle- if you have images of what you like and do not like a good designer should be able to help you achieve something close to it. Just be aware that your choices may require higher maintenance than you want so you need to consider this, and planting changes through the year so you will have a different effect by season that also needs to be considered.”

Contact our highly talented and experienced planting team to start creating your Green Dream. Get inspired with us at CGLA  and we can help get your garden humming!

Tip 5: Choose Hard landscaping materials and features with care.

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Aesthetically- choose a limited palette of materials that you use across the garden so that it all feels harmonious. Ideally only use one material of each unit size (i.e., one paving material, one gravel, one type of wood, one brick that matches the house etc). Ensure they are fit for purpose as well as looking great- gravels need careful thought- are they going to track into the house, will cars/prams/bikes get bogged down, will it slide down the hill or wash onto my lawn or patio?

Paving materials need to be the right thickness, slip resistance and unit sizes to achieve the practical and aesthetic demands of your design.

Features such as pots, sculptures and pergolas need to fit the space. Do you need to move them or get a mower past? Are they made of a material that will stain your patio? Can you get water to them?

Designing your garden is an enriching journey that allows you to create an outdoor space that reflects your personality and meets your desires. By following these five tips you can design a garden that becomes your personal haven, nurturing your body, mind, and soul every time you step into it. Let your creativity flow and watch your garden blossom into a captivating oasis that you can enjoy for years to come. Happy gardening!

If you would like the help of the fabulous creative team at CGLA, or simply want to share your experiences, do get in touch.