Whether you’re designing a small courtyard or a large garden, there’s a huge choice of plants that can help you create the perfect outdoor space. However, you also need to consider the other components of your garden, such as fences and paths, as well as any seating areas or other structures. Read on for our top tips to inspire you with ideas for garden design whatever sort of space you have to work with.
The first thing to do is decide what you want your garden to be for. Whether it’s a place to grow your own vegetables or simply somewhere to sit and enjoy the view, you need to think about what you will be using your garden for, as this will influence your plant choices.
A good way to do this is by writing a list of all the functions you want your garden to have. This can help you plan where to position different types of planting and how to make sure your garden is designed with all these purposes in mind.
Your climate should inform some of your garden ideas too. For example, if you live in a dry area you might choose to replace your lawn with grasses that are low-maintenance and require little irrigation, such as fescue or meadow grass. Another option is to embrace xeriscaping, which not only reduces water usage but also helps to prevent soil compaction and promotes water retention in your garden.
Once you know what sorts of planting you’re going to have, you need to decide on a garden design theme. This could be a particular type of style, such as cottage garden or Japanese garden ideas, or it might be a colour palette, like shades of blue or grey. Choosing a specific theme will help you to create an overall scheme and ensure that your planting looks harmonious.
Finally, you should draw up a rough sketch of your garden to help you visualise what you’re aiming for. On graph paper, you can lay out the different planting zones, and then add in details such as paving, walls, fences and any other structures that you might be planning to include. You can then start to experiment with different combinations of plants to see what you like best.
Many of the gardens we admire in magazines and books are framed by something that stands out – whether it’s a boldly-coloured flowerbed, an exuberant hedge or a majestic tree. Even a simple recirculating wall fountain can make an impact. The trick is to find a feature that will act as the ‘backbone’ of your garden, adding height and structure and pulling everything together. For the ultimate impact, frame your feature with a combination of perennials and shrubs that will provide year-round interest. Evergreen shrubs such as box balls or pleached hornbeam trees are great options for this. Alternatively, opt for a climbing ivy or rambling roses. This will instantly enhance the look of your garden and hide any unsightly patches of bare ground.