Designing Your Garden: First Steps

If you think designing a garden is too hard to do, think again. It's just inspiration plus organization.

Contemporary Garden with Brick Garden Pattern

Contemporary Garden with Brick Pattern

2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Garden Design View original photo.

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Patterns made of brick create a surprising effect in this contemporary backyard. Lush green foliage and a flower garden frame the uniquely designed yard.

Designing your garden is all about finding solutions. That may sound daunting, but if you can identify your goals and practical needs, your basic design will soon take shape.

Start by pulling all your inspirations and ideas into one place, like a notebook. These may include plants and landscapes you love, and furniture or art you admire. To help clarify your thoughts, draw a simple diagram with areas for different activities - dining, seating or a play area for the kids.

The paths, structures and areas of open spaces will impact the look and feel of a design, and need to be considered before you finalize your plan. For example, combining winding paths and organic shapes creates a relaxed and informal design, while straight paths and symmetrical layouts convey a formal look.

Every site has its own particular challenges, whether your garden is on a steep slope that needs terracing, or is tiny or an awkward shape. Whatever the problem, you can use lines, shapes, height and structure to your advantage to help you achieve your vision. You can also employ techniques to lead or direct the eye, creating an illusion of space in a small garden or focusing attention to your garden's best features.

Colors, patterns and textures have a powerful impact on atmosphere and mood. Color also affects perception of size and space in the garden - cool blues and whites make an area feel bigger; warm reds and yellows make spaces appear lively and more compact. Pale colors and white reflect light into gloomy areas. Texture can be used to create exciting contrasts, too, by combining rough with smooth, or shiny with matte.

There are no rights or wrongs in the world of garden design. The most important things are being willing to experiment, and just having fun!

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