with The Helpful Gardener
Gardening tips: The Helpful Gardener brings the pleasure of gardening to your home. Our garden design articles are collected in one spot.
Basics of Landscape Design
While designing the landscape around your home can seem a daunting task to the uninitiated, it is simply a matter of taking things one step at a time, taking in to account the various factors that can affect our landscape in the long term. We’ll review the roadmap from planning to planted…
Consider who will enjoy your garden
Driveways and paths are only the first part of that equation; how the eye moves through the garden can influence how the body follows. Screening undesirable views is a good idea, but occasionally screening a nice garden area can be of even more value in encouraging viewers to see what lies just around that bend in the path (the Japanese call this “miegakure”, or hide and reveal). This can be a key tool in getting people to take those first steps off of the “main drag” and explore different sections of the garden (the not-so-new buzzword is “rooms”). Another trick along these lines is to expose a vista or other point of visual interest (hereafter referred to as POVI) that encourages them to journey out and take a look-see. Think about moving people through the garden and a logical sequence may provide a lot of great design ideas…
Designing a functional garden
Screening undesirable views or weather (usually wind, but the right screen can help screen salty breezes, dust or other environmental factors) is a high priority in the design process; I usually do my first walk through with an eye strictly to finding the design problems before I even give a thought to final themes or aesthetics. I view children and pets as part of this process and both can be a terror, especially to a new landscape and if sufficient spaces are not allotted both have a way of creating their own space (even if it is in the middle of that bed of prized plants). Don’t think simply of the animals and kids on the property; that basketball will tear up the perennial border no matter which side of the property line it came from, so take the neighbors into account too. Space for recreation should take the adults into account as well; even if that volleyball game is once a year at the family get together, will family stability be threatened if Uncle Bobby takes out a delphinium or three diving for that dig? I am no fan of lawn space for a number of reasons, but sometimes greensward is a necessary evil; don’t skimp where that’s the case…
Finally think about how you move through the garden when maintaining it; beds should make mowing easier (I like gentle curves), not harder, hoses should have hose guides at the appropriate corners, beds should have stepping stones or the like to move amongst the plants without compacting soil, etc. The every day mechanics of maintaining the garden are often overlooked by professionals let alone the amateur designer, yet these small points become larger as you use the garden day in and day out. A little forethought can make your life a LOT easier down the road, and that’s every time you work in the garden.
your garden with native plants