4 Tips to Design Your Garden

design your garden with a view
Framing a view

Have you decided THIS is the year to design your garden?  You’re probably inundated with all the new gardening catalogs filled with luscious new plants and colorful flowers.  There are lots of ideas.  Images of big juicy berries lead to dreams of a warm summer evening, reading a book and fragrances of ripening fruit.  But then the daydreams stop and you think garden design is too hard.  It isn’t hard, but it does take some time and planning.

Its still early spring.  Its a terrific time to plan the garden of your dreams. Let’s start with the planning and that blank palette.

Most yards are square, but that doesn’t mean your garden has to be square-shaped.  Its more appealing if it isn’t.  Think of what views you want to create and how you want to wander through your garden.  Even if your yard is tiny, you can create sitting areas out in the yard, away from the house.  It gives you a totally different feeling!  Wander out there and try it.  What would you want to see from that view point? What do you want to smell?  What do you want to experience?  This is how you begin to design your garden.

Tip #1: Create Views

While you’re creating views, do you have any you want to frame?  My friend has a beautiful mountain she adores.  We framed that view with an arched trellis and a climbing rose.  Another friend can see the all lights of the city at night.  The goal was to lead the eye without blocking the view.  I wanted a pond with a waterfall near my bedroom so I can open the windows and hear the water splashing and the frogs croaking on summer nights.  The pond faces my window, not the yard.

Tip #2:  Create Movement

I like to design a garden that has lots of flowing movement around and through it.  Think of flowing water.  Water never moves in a straight line.

It meanders, it swirls sometimes creating

garden design with small berms near a pathway
Small berms create a meandering path

little eddys and islands of space.  These islands can be berms you’ve created.  If your yard is a big flat space, berms will create more interest.  If your yard is small, berms will give you more planting area, or sitting areas.  Berms can block something you’re not fond of, or raise you up high enough to enjoy a view.  Berms also create little valleys.

Tip #3:  Enhance What Is Natural

I once came home in pouring rain to find a small river racing through my backyard.  Water was collecting in natural swales from all the rain, but it didn’t have anywhere to go.  I put on a drysuit and boots and moved soil out of the way with a pick to release the water at the edge of the yard.  It turned out to be a terrific design element and is now a mostly dry stream bed filled with river rock.  But this past winter, it was full of water again from all the flooding of rain and melting snow.  Small berms and boulders on either side make it look more natural.

Tip #4:  Use Sun and Shade

In designing your garden have you noticed where the sun is?  Can you take advantage of it for planting fruiting shrubs and trees?   You’ll want the sunniest area of your garden for planting vegetables and herbs.  I have friends who dream of formal rose gardens, but I prefer my roses scattered among my vegetables and herbs, along with other sun-loving perennials.

Do you need to shade your house to cool the temperatures?  Do you need shade for the fish in your pond?  Do you want shade to cool the areas where you like to sit in the afternoon?  You can use small trees or shrubs strategically placed to provide that shade.

These ideas are the ones to think about first in designing your garden.  The color is what creates the pizzazz, but the design creates the overall feel of the best gardens.  See how easy it is?  Let yourself be creative, you CAN have it all.

In sync with nature,

Tova Roseman
Earth Diva