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Tips and Ideas for Garden Design

Analyze the difference between Western and Eastern design cultures and traditions.

“The history of landscape design is clear and simple,” wrote the Garrett Eckbo (an influential 20th-century American landscape architect) in his book ”Landscape for Living”. “It has two main streams, the formal axial tradition of Europe and western Asia, and the stylized nature-symbolism of eastern Asia.”

Do you want the layout of the garden design to be based on western style— with rectangles, straight lines, and symmetry—or based on the eastern design of curves, irregular shapes, and materials like rocks, water, and gravel to depict the natural world?  Once you are familiar with the principles, you will have the confidence to bend the rules and mix elements from both.

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Know the purpose of your garden

Historically, all gardens were designed with one of three main goals in mind, to write landscape architect Eckbo: to create living space, to raise food, or to get visual satisfaction.

You must know, what purpose do you want the garden to achieve? Getting a place where electric car for kids can run or having the area where all family members can sit together? When you get the answer, you can design a place that does double duty, mixing edibles and ornamentals in a single planting bed, for instance. Visually define the boundaries of the garden.

Architect Ben Pentreath applies gates and fences made of natural materials—including woven willow panels and wood—to create distinct boundaries in his garden. When you select the boundaries of space, you give the eye to focus on something special—a fence or a hedge in the distance—clarifying where the perimeters generate a sense of order.

Know the specialties of your property.

Every land-piece has its own unique set of characteristics: shade, sunny areas, changes in elevation, existing trees, windy spots, soil conditions, and mature shrubs that may not match the neighbor’s.

Get to know the property’s topography and microclimates. Check the soil to detect if it is acidic and get an in-depth study of its composition: is it loose and sandy or clayish and heavy? The more you understand the personality of the property, the better advantage you can take of its best traits.

Take advantage of borrowed views.

Don’t be shy about capitalizing on the loveliness that surrounds your land. Does your neighbor have a magnificent tree that turns bright red in autumn? Incorporate borrowed beauty into your landscape to make your garden feel more expansive for the one who is deep reviewer; don’t block the view with a high fence.

Choose foundation plantings that anchor the house.

Tie the house (and other buildings, like a garden shed or a freestanding garage) to the land by shrub-planting at the foundation-base. You can also train vines to grow on walls. Both the garden and house will benefit if it is clear they belong to each other.

Select the suitable dimensions for a path or walkway.

You can layout a path that’s as narrow as 18 inches at a steady pace. But the more extensive the path, the more spacious the garden will feel. A 48-inch-wide way (if you have space) will enable two people to run or walk side by side. You can also experiment: layout a path that widens and narrows or add a curve to develop visual interest.

Select plants that will thrive in the micro-climate

What plants will be happiest in the garden? Native plants are a perfect choice. Also, plants that you observe are happy in the neighbors’ yards. Remember that your garden has microclimates of sun and shade, and site plants accordingly.

Plant for a tree’s future

While planting a tree, consider the shape and size it will be at maturity. The worst thing in a garden is a tree with branches hacked off because it got too big for its location.

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