Garden design 10 point checklist: 10 garden designer steps to a great garden
Do you love your garden? Does it make you smile every time you look at it from the kitchen or living room window? Are you happy to invite friends and family over to spend time in it?
If the answer to these questions is "no", then it is probably time to start to think about a re-design. Like most things in life, making improvements to a garden usually starts with asking ourselves a few questions and being really honest with the answers.
As a professional garden designer, I regularly use a simple 10 point garden design checklist when I visit a new customer's garden. It is a list of the key things to focus on when analysing a garden and it helps me to quickly establish how we can improve things.
But, you don't need to be a qualified and experienced garden designer to follow a checklist, so if you're thinking of redesigning your garden this year here's the Tythorne Garden Design’s 10 point checklist for planning to enjoy your garden more:
1. Are we really gardeners?
It's vital that we are really honest about how much time we are realistically prepared to spend maintaining our planting and lawn. There is very little point creating a new garden that is going to take up more of our precious time than we are willing to devote to it- it will quickly begin to feel like a chore and we will soon start to resent it. A simple layout will generally take less maintenance, but think carefully about the maintenance when it comes to lawns, planting and choice for hard-landscaping materials.
2. Take a seat: designing the perfect seating area
I think that gardens should always be about relaxing, so it is always important to think carefully about where we are going to position our main seating and entertaining area. Will it get the sun when we want it to? Is it convenient to get to and from the house? For many people this will be the most 'visited' part of the garden, so it's worth taking the time to get it right. Think about additional 'occasional' seating areas as well. It is lovey to have a bench or two in other parts of the garden, partly as alternative places to sit and enjoy the garden from a different perspective but also to serve as focal points.
3. Garden design to emphasise the garden's good points
It may sound obvious, but we should always try to make the most of the positive elements of our garden. I don't think I have ever been asked to look at a garden that hasn't got at least a few things going for it. Is there a great view? Is it very private? Does it get plenty of direct sunshine? Let's take the chance to design our new garden around its best attributes.
4. Garden design to distract from the garden's bad bits
As with the above, it’s so important that we try to minimise the impact of any perceived negative points about our garden. If our neighbour’s house is a little closer than we’d like, we need to try to find a way to lead the eye away from it so that it’s not the first thing we see. Don't like the sloping lawn because it's difficult to mow? Let's consider terracing it to make it more manageable. Good garden design builds on strengths and finds solutions for issues.
5. Lovely lawns: using good garden design to create an attractive and low-maintenance lawn
Our lawn is often the biggest single part of our garden, so it’s worth giving it a lot of thought. Is it too big? Is it too small? Could it be a better shape to give the garden more of a sense of direction and purpose? Could we design our lawn so that it is easier and quicker to maintain? Get the design of our lawn right and we are a big step closer to a successful garden.
6. Is there room in the garden for a tree?
Almost every garden should have a tree. They provide height and interest and are brilliant for attracting wildlife. There are lots of different species of trees available to us at garden centres, plant nurseries and online plant retailers, but it is important to pick one that will be suitable for the space we have got. A little research now will save a lot of problems later on.
7. Structurally sound?
Most successful gardens are built around a carefully considered structure of horizontals (e.g. hard-landscaping and lawns) and verticals (e.g. hedges, walls and trellis screens). Without a balanced structure a garden can quickly feel disjointed or weak. Get the structure right and the rest will usually follow.
8. It's all about the plants: great planting design makes a garden
However good a garden's structure may be, it is usually the plants the provide the most colour and seasonal interest. Design the planting areas with care to maximise their potential, and plant in groups for greater impact. Never be afraid of repetition when it comes to planting, particularly in larger spaces- it helps a garden feel unified and balanced.
9. Garden design 'must haves': be consistent and unified
Just as successful planting is often based on clusters and repetition, we usually find that a small selection of complementary materials works better than having too much variety. At the very least, try to have one material (perhaps a brick edging?) that appears regularly throughout the garden- it will help to tie the different spaces together and will create a great sense of cohesion.
10. De-clutter: keep garden design simple
Less is usually more in the garden. A much-loved sculpture, statue or oversized pot can serve as a fantastic focal point, but too many different objects will quickly over-power and distract. Better to pick one thing you absolutely love than have five things you are ambivalent about.
So, there you are. It's a pretty simple checklist, but designing a successful garden really does begin with being clear about what it is we are trying to achieve. Find out how Tythorne Garden Design can help you to enjoy your garden more.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.