With everything going on in the world many people are discovering the solace that comes from gardening and adding greenery to their lives.
Experienced gardeners are diving deeper into their gardening activities and trying new things.
There is something so satisfying about tending to something and watching it thrive. Gardening activities are all about adding a bit of joy to your life, whether your garden is a windowsill or an acre of land.
Whether gardens are designed by a professional or an amateur, certain principles form the basis of effective garden design, resulting in the creation of gardens to meet the needs, goals and desires of the users or owners of the gardens.
We start the process by looking at the elements of a garden. Here are a few garden designs tips for you.
- Hard Landscape – the durable, long lasting make up that never changes, the hard components of the landscape such as the large pieces of hard material that make up the bulk of landscape materials such as the rock, stone and the masonry that create walls, paths and a sense of space that ties the rest of the outside world to the feel of your home. An essential and very important part of any garden design.
- Water Features – A water feature can be as simple as a small reflecting pool or as elaborate as a waterfall cascading into a fish pond with a fountain. With so many options to choose from it is helpful to recognize the four basic categories of water features, ponds, fountains, waterfalls and streams as well as the plants themselves.
- Horticultural Requirements – In your garden design you need to take into account the season to season appearance of the plants as they can sense changes in the seasons. Leaves change colour and some drop leaves each autumn. Certain flowers, like poinsettias, only bloom during the winter. In the spring, the winter buds on the trees break open, and the leaves start to grow. But how do plants detect time of year? Although we might detect seasonal changes by the change in temperature, this is not the way in which plants determine that the seasons are changing. Plants determine the time of year by the length of daylight, known as the photoperiod. Because of the tilt of the Earth during winter days, there are less hours of light than during summer days.
- Growth Habit – The size, speed of growth and combinations with other plants and landscape features. During design, consideration should also be given to the maintenance needs of the garden, including the time or funds available for regular maintenance which can affect the choice of plants in terms of speed of growth, spreading or self-seeding of the plants.
- Climate Zone – The United Kingdom lies in the Royal Horticultural Society Ratings 6 to 9 with some region variations across the seasons. The UK enjoys a temperate maritime climate characterised by cool winters and warm summers. Around the coasts February is usually the coldest month but inland there is not much change inland between January and February.
- Microclimates – Valleys and hills, wind, water, heat, soil type and even buildings can cause the creation of a microclimate, which is classed as a small area with a climate that is different to locations close by. For example the Hertfordshire town of Rickmansworth is known to sit in a frost pocket due to its steep valley which, during the winter months, can make it up to 10 degrees cooler than its surrounds. The Oxfordshire town of Benson is known to be foggier than most. If you’ve ever wondered why city centres tend to be hotter during summer than their surrounding countryside, it’s down to the fact that the density of the buildings and pavements which are made of heat-absorbing materials such as concrete and tarmac. These materials absorb and retain the sun’s heat during the day and only release it at night. To similar effect, glass buildings reflect heat back into the city. A lack of trees and green spaces which help absorb heat and evaporate water, heavy population and transport systems also contribute to an inner-city’s microclimate. This is also referred to as an urban heat island.
- Annual or Perennial Plants – Annual plants germinate, flower and die in a single growing season. They will grow in the spring and summer and then they will wilt and die by or during the first frost. These plants will spend most of their life as a seed to avoid dry spells and unfavourable conditions. The annual plant’s seed-to-seed lifecycle can span anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. A perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term is used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annuals and biennials. The term is also widely used to distinguish plants with little or no woody growth from trees and shrubs which are also technically perennials.
- Soil – The quality of a garden’s soil does have a significant influence on the design of a garden and hopefully its subsequent success. Soil influences the availability of water and nutrients, the activity of soil micro-organisms, and temperature within the root zone, and thus may have a determining effect on the types of plants which will grow successfully in the garden. Soils may be improved in order to make them more suitable. Traditionally we have improved garden soil by adding beneficial materials to the native subsoil and particularly the topsoil. The added materials would normally consist of compost, peat, sand, mineral dust or manure, amongst others, is mixed within the soil to the preferred depth.
- Boundaries – The design of a garden can be affected by the nature of its boundaries, both external and internal, and in turn the design can influence the boundaries, including creation of new ones. Planting can be used to modify an existing boundary line by softening or widening it. Introducing internal boundaries can help divide or break up a garden into smaller areas. The main types of boundary within a garden are hedges, walls and fences. A hedge may be evergreen or deciduous, formal or informal, short or tall, depending on the style of the garden and purpose of the boundary. Boundaries may be constructed for several reasons: to keep out livestock or intruders, to provide privacy or to create shelter from strong winds.
- Functionality – Entertaining outdoors always seems so much more relaxed, both for the hosts and the guests, but how many people do you need to accommodate? Just the two of you for an intimate lunch? A sit down for dinner? Or more for an informal BBQ?
Once you have gone through the initial garden design the next step is the planting plan where you decide which type plants that you will be using, and draw exactly where they will be sited in the garden. You should ideally draw them at close to the size they will become, not the size they are when planted. This allows you to give them all the space they need to grow naturally. It is so easy to plant gardens too densely and too close to paths and buildings.
So there you have it, our simple introduction on how to plan a garden design but hopefully it is very helpful for you.