Four tips to create a more interesting garden design

from Pith + Vigor and next on-line Garden Design Bootcamp
by Rochelle
February 23, 2020

Do you wish your garden was less boring and a lot more exciting? But you aren't really sure how to fix it?

Let's see if maybe I can get you un-stuck.

One of the biggest hurdles that everyone has with designing a garden is imagining the space differently than it currently is. It is, quite simply, very hard to imagine something else when reality is staring you right in the face.

Because of this, most people tend to build their designs off the shape of their plot. But this often does not get the best results because property lines were never intended to be the basis of great garden design.

Tip #1 - Don't obsess over the property lines - in fact - ignore them! All they are is the way that some civil engineer chose to break up the land that you live on so that houses could be built. Designing with them is giving them way too much power.?????? ?????????

When we are in our gardens, we crave the feeling of being in fully engrossed in nature. Which means we need to bring things in and define the outdoor areas that we want to live in, to our own scale and needs (not to the civil engineer's scale!). ????????? ????????

Tip #2 - The best way to start a garden plan is to first get out a piece of paper. Drawing a plan on paper (vs out in the yard) helps you detach a bit from the reality of the actual place and lets your mind start to open up to more creative ideas. Paper and pencil helps you explore more ideas.

Tip #3 - Ignore the edges of your drawing and start working with simple shapes in the middle. Find a pleasing combination and figure out how things flow and work together.

THEN - and only then, (after you have something that feels nice and flows well)... can you fill in the edges with plants.

The truth is, garden beds on the outer edges of your plot can be any shape and depth and once they are filled with beautiful plants, they can hide a million odd angles and property line quirks. ?

Working from the middle, out (rather than from the edges, in) - can give you the chance to create pleasing symmetry, it might help you to find a different balance and it frees you to create any layout you might want.

And my last Tip (#4) - If you're having problems coming up with a design - try placing a big circle in your plan.

Even if you don't want a big circle of turf or a circular path or some other circle shaped feature - starting with a circle will help you get unstuck and start to see the possibilities. After you play with it, you can always stretch it out to an oval, or you can square it off to be a rectangle.

Circles are good at getting you unstuck because they aren't what we expect to see.

I've never seen a property line that is a circle, have you? - Yeah, I thought not.

But we have all seen plenty of beautiful gardens with circular features, right?

See what happens when you play with a circle or two - and while you are at it, toss in a rectangle or a square. Make them bigger and smaller - play, and let your mind get creative.

Finding simple ways to effectively plan, define and break up space in your garden is one of many topics I teach in Garden Design Boot Camp. If you are struggling to figure out what to do with your garden, join us and get my personal help sorting out your garden (yes, I look at every single student's projects and answer any and all questions you have).

This is where you will find the info on the upcoming March class

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row