How to Plan and Design a Garden

Design a garden that will inspire you for years to come. Learn how to make a garden that works for you.

A Bit of Garden Folly

A Bit of Garden Folly

Originally designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, the gardens at Hestercombe, England worked were designed a stone alcove and steps leading to the sunken garden, and is just one example of the symmetry, balance and proportion.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Dig into designing a garden that will enhance your property value and fill your at-home time with beauty and inspiration. Learning how to make a garden really starts with asking yourself questions and checking out other gardens. By exploring what you want and need a garden to do, as well as how others have achieved their goals, you’ll be ready to plan a garden for yourself.

Gardens vary from formal French garden designs to cheery cottage garden plans. You might be intrigued by the concept of a rain garden design as both a green landscape and a way to waive municipal stormwater runoff fees. Or maybe your inner chef wants to explore herb garden designs for the front yard and a serious vegetable garden plan for the back.

For family gatherings, you may consider an outdoor dining area tucked into an edible garden design with a cozy fire pit. Or maybe a stressful job has you seeking a Zen rock garden design that fosters relaxation and meditation. There truly is a garden design to suit every design style and level of gardening experience. 

Sift through the possibilities by determining goals for your garden. Then, before you start to design a garden, look for inspiration. Browse photo galleries online to discover the myriad options before you. Take advantage of local garden tours to see actual gardens and yards that might approximate yours in terms of size and house style. Head to the library and flip through garden design books. Every garden you see becomes a part of your process in designing a garden. 

Garden planner software can take the guesswork out of how to plan a garden, giving you three-dimensional options and walk-throughs that help you determine placement of different areas. In-depth plant encyclopedias can help you make plant choices quickly, and you can also explore different hardscape options with the click of a button. 

Check local garden centers to see if they offer workshops on how to make a garden. Many times these types of workshops equip you to tackle designing and installing a garden. In this type of setting, you can often get your toughest questions answered by an expert for a minimal fee. This is a great option when you have the confidence to plan a garden but have a few key challenges to address.

When you learn how to plan a garden in a garden center-sponsored workshop, you’ll probably also get a discount on any plants you purchase. Take advantage of these opportunities to save money and trim your plant budget. You can always apply funds saved to another aspect of your garden.

If you’re dealing with terracing or grading issues, it’s worth the effort to consult with a garden designer. Their professional training and contacts can help you navigate potential problems with ease. You might also want to visit with a garden designer to review a garden plan you have developed, especially if you have any doubts about your design or your ability to install it. A garden designer can refine your vision and confirm—or allay—your fears.

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