Outdoor Landscaping

Professional tips for garden planning.

At the beginning of every garden planning there are many ideas and dreams. In order for them to become reality, good planning is important before the first cut of the spade. In just four steps you will succeed in creating beautiful designs. We will give you an introduction to garden planning and explain the correct procedure using an example garden.

he planning of your first own garden is a dream come true for hobby gardeners. And many of them make their way to the garden centre immediately after a short inspection of the new property in order to buy the plants. But stop! Before you turn the first sod, you should draw up a detailed plan of your future paradise. Only in this way will you be able to create a harmonious whole out of the many possibilities without gardening experience, where one fits the other.

Measure and plan

Basically, garden planning is not a witchcraft. Anyone can make a meaningful sketch if they are patient and enjoy experimenting. Seldom is the first sketch successful – but with every further sketch you come one step closer to your dream garden. First, an inventory is made. To do this, you go into the garden with a measuring tape (at least 20 metres long) and measure the most important distances, i.e. the length of the plot and house and the distance from the corners of the house to the garden boundary. If available, you can take the measurements also from the floor plan of your property.

The plot boundaries and building floor plans are then transferred to scale on a millimetre or box paper. If the garden is already ingrown, all plants and garden elements that should be preserved should be added. Tip: Do not separate from old trees too quickly. They are valuable scaffolding for the garden, which one would have to wait decades for a new planting. However, if the trees are too large or at risk of breakage, there is usually no way around felling.

Create wish list

After the first, rather sober planning phase, the most beautiful part comes now: the wish list. First put your inventory plan aside and write down everything that should not be missing in your later dream garden. Usually this list is much too long to be able to realize everything – but it saves you from saying goodbye to your dreams too quickly. Even with small gardens, for example, you should initially pursue the desire for a garden pond, even if later only a mini version or a wall fountain is built. The same applies to luxury elements such as pergolas or pavilions. Only if one considers the necessary place from the outset, one can supplement them later effortlessly. If, on the other hand, they are not included in the planning, elaborate redesigning or clearing may be necessary later.

Placing garden elements

If the list is complete, the individual items are numbered according to their importance. Now begin to place the various garden elements on the inventory plan – the most important first, the less important last. The best way to do this is to place transparent sketch paper over the inventory plan or make copies of it in order to be able to record several variants. Try to take the approximate size and location into account when placing the plan. For example, vegetable gardens need a lot of sun, but a second seat should be shaded when the terrace is in full sun.

Plan details

If one of the drafts appeals to you, it goes to the detailed planning. In this phase, the first ideas are critically questioned and concretized. Now is the time to decide on a garden style. For a romantic country house garden many rose and shrub beds should be planned, for a formal garden straight paths and cut hedges are characteristic. Check whether all generations really get their money’s worth in a family garden or whether there are not too many beds and shrubs for an easy-care garden.

But not only the style is decisive. A garden should also be practical, for example in terms of the layout of the paths or the location of the tool shed. If the original garden plan does not meet these criteria, you should simply take a step back and create a new design. Also determine the exact location and size of the garden elements. The question of materials, from the paving stones to the garden fence, should also be decided now.

Plant selection

The most complex part of the detailed planning is the plant selection. Before you start planning your bed, you should analyse the lighting conditions as accurately as possible. Check which areas of the garden are exposed to the sun all day, which are partially shaded by trees and where the poorest places in the garden are. There is a large selection of suitable plants for every location – even in your favourite colours. Also try to combine flowering times and foliage colours so that the garden is green and blooms at any time of the year – with evergreens and winter flowers even in the cold season.

Find design motto

As a freshly baked garden owner, the choice of plants is difficult, because the assortment of garden centres is gigantic. If you put the plants together without a concept, the result is usually unsatisfactory and the garden looks restless. It becomes more harmonious if you make a striking plant, for example the rose, the design motto of a bed or the whole garden. First, compile a list of your favourite roses. Then select the accompanying plants that match the colour and growth habit, such as larkspur, catnip and lady’s mantle.

Typical plant combinations can also be put together for special garden styles such as the country house garden or the natural garden, which also determine the character of the garden. By the way: the motto “Better well imitated than badly designed” also applies to bed planning. Refined beds can be found at garden shows and in botanical gardens. But also the gardens in the neighbourhood or the show garden of the garden centre on site are often good sources of inspiration.

Determine colour concept

The coordination of the flower colours plays an important role, because not all colours harmonise with each other. A bed quickly appears colourful if it contains too many colours. In contrast, beds with two contrasting colours, which are available in different colours from light to dark and pale to vibrant, appear particularly elegant. Colour gradients from yellow to orange to carmine red or from light blue to dark violet are also attractive. These colour tones lie next to each other in the colour circle. Those who combine tones that lie opposite each other in the colour circle, for example orange with blue or violet with yellow, receive very high-contrast garden pictures. This is referred to as complementary colours.

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