Planning for Planting: First Steps

Planning your planting fuses practicality with artistic flair. But who says that function and inspiration can't be combined? Read on for tips on choosing high-performing beauties that fit your space.

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Visualize Plantings with Mock Set Up Using Objects DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

First Steps

Before planning your planting, draw up a site plan. Then, start thinking about the style of your garden, and how planting fits into the overall look. Sketch the shapes and sizes of proposed beds and borders, and take photographs of the garden - either from a window that overlooks the garden or from an area with good views of your future planting. These shots will help you judge the scale of planting you need.

Choosing the Right Plants

Consider starting with a list of your favorite plants to include in your design. Or, decide on the overall look you want first and then find plants to fit the heights and shapes required. In reality, a planting plan usually ends up being a combination of both.

Whichever approach you take, bear a couple of things in mind. Make sure the plants you choose will flourish in the site and soil conditions. Consider the heights, textures and shapes of plants in relation to each other. Think about flowering periods, and how your garden's look will change throughout the seasons. And remember to focus on foliage. In a small garden, a planting palette limited to a few different types of plants will have the greatest impact. For inspiration, experiment at a garden center: group some of your combinations together, in your cart or on a plant stand. Be willing to edit and revise your planting plan if it don't look as good in the flesh as it did on paper.

Plants With Design Functions

It is easy to fixate on flower and leaf color, but many plants offer other appeals. Scent, an obvious one, is a must near patios, doors and windows, while structure - for example, the domed shape of hebes and the sword-like leaves of New Zealand flax -can make a planting stand out visually. Many climbers can be trained over trellis to disguise an ugly view, and tough hedging plants, such as hornbeam or yew, can stop wind in its tracks.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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