Whether you’re going to make a full scale drawing or just jot down a few notes, planning a garden should start with a few basic elements.
1. How plants will grow in the conditions of your garden.
2. How will the plant’s shape your gardens structure.
3. Qualities that add interest and excitement to the garden.
Whether you’re starting with a bare yard or improving an existing landscape, do a quick analysis of the area.
- Determine the sunny and shady locations, including the north, south, east and west sides of your house. Do you need more or less shade?
- Check natural slope and drainage patterns and find out where water will collect.
- Examine the soil and check its ability to retain or drain water.
- Think about pathways you will need.
- Study existing plants you might be able to utilize in a new or revitalized landscaping, either i their present location or by transplanting.
Consider the following when making your plan:
Plant Function – Where do you need windbreaks or privacy? If you need space for outdoor activities, will you need hedges for privacy or to define spaces?
Sun and Shade – Plan for solar penetration or protection. Deciduous trees provide summer shade and allow sun penetration during the winter. Evergreens provide consistent, year round shade.
Visual Impact – Plan for visual points of view – what will the garden look like through favorite windows or from an outdoor seating area.
Multipurpose Plants – To get the most from your garden, use plants that serve more than one purpose. For example, use a fruit or nut tree for a shade tree. Many perennial herbs can double as attractive borders or ground covers.
Low Maintenance – Plan the garden for the amount of time and effort you’ll have to maintain it. Lawns usually require the most maintenance unless you choose a type that is designed for low maintenance landscaping. To reduce pruning chores, select slow growing plants for clipped formal hedges or plant an informal hedge. Use narrow, upright shrubs or trees where space is limited. Use flowering ground covers, shrubs or perennials for color. Use annual flowers as colorful accent plants, not as the foundation of the garden. To reduce watering chores, select drought tolerate plants.
Plant Size – Fit plants to the space you have available. Consider the mature size of the plants when you are selecting them. Choose plants that complement the architectural style of your house. Use tall hedges to block unsightly views from the yard.
It’s easy to buy plants on impulse, but if you rely on impulse alone, you may end up with no more than a collection of interesting plants that neither grow well or look good in your garden.
Concentrate on the major elements first and keep the plan simple. Some of the most beautiful gardens are a simple combination of a few trees, one or two ground covers or a lawn and a hedge of a single type of evergreen shrub to make a private spot. After you’ve addressed the essentials, you can begin to elaborate with the special plants you enjoy – a fragrant jasmine, a border of flowers or herbs.