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Garden design? How do I start?

Updated on January 29, 2014

Start your design with a vision and I would strongly suggest starting out small. Once you get the hang of staying focused on one area you can start a new one while it is establishing itself. Ask yourself what your goal is for this area. Do I want one constant color running ram-pit in my garden? Do I want to hide an eye sore? Do I want miniature plants? Do I want low maintenance?

Go look shopping. Look for conifers and perennials first.You can incorporate splashes of color throughout the seasons with those lovely annual flowers you just have to have. Quietly meditate through the nursery, reading the tags and spending time with the experts while making sure the plants you admire are hardy to your area, your zone.

Think back to your vision and stay focused on it. Incorporate shades of color. Conifers and perennials come in all colors and sizes. Look for textures, unique shades and shapes. By doing this you allow your garden to sing to you all year long. Snow takes on a totally new light sprinkled on shades of green.

If you are not sure of the rate of growth and the maintenance behind each plant that you admire, ask anyone until you are confident enough to make the plunge and purchase your new prize. You don't want to plant an invasive plant next to your entrance of your house. Too high maintenance. Think low maintenance, slow rate of growth.

Before designing this garden I asked myself a multitude of questions. As you can see, the homes are very close together.

Before installing the patio/walkway combo I asked and answered a few questions to get started in the right direction. The questions that would ultimately satisfy my need. What material do I want to use? Do I have anything in stock? What kind of appearance am I looking for, country, modern, etc?

What am I going to do with the dirt during construction? Instant garden anyone? Do I want privacy? Of course. Do I want low maintenance? Very much so. Do I want height? Love climbers, love nooks and crannies. Do I want drama in the beginning, the end, both? I want drama everywhere.

Just Missed the Blues


Here is a perfect example of a decision I made by asking myself a few very important question. Do I really want a perennial (comes back every year) that likes to walk? (invasive) Above I planted Forget Me Nots knowing they would pop up everywhere. I knew this before I planted them. I wanted a carpet of sky blue blanketing this section of my garden. I chose to ignore the fact that I will have to pull them from areas I did not want them. I chose to take the risk of strangling existing plants surrounding them. But, I saw the sky blue carpet of Forget Me Nots once in another garden and just had to have it going on in mine. For a good three weeks I can look out my bathroom window saturating myself with what I call my happy blues.

Caught the Blues/check out the Climatis Behind This Scene Not yet in Bloom

FORGET ME NOT in blue, Brennera, verigated, Jededoha hemlock in back, Nelly Moser, Climatis not yet in bloom
FORGET ME NOT in blue, Brennera, verigated, Jededoha hemlock in back, Nelly Moser, Climatis not yet in bloom

Notice the tree growing out of a hole in the ground. The well so to speak was constructed because the cherry tree was growing before the blue stone patio was installed The decision to raise the garden beds was two fold. This was the easiest way to get rid of the fill from excavation and raising the garden beds provided definition. In my opinion, changing elevation always makes a garden.

Question: What am I going to do with all this fill. Answer: Raise the garden beds. In order not to kill the cherry tree I decided to build a well around it with the extra blue stone left over from the patio. I enjoyed it for many years, but dispute my efforts, unfortunately I had to cut it down because it grew too tall for the space and interfered with the electric lines that crossed above. Ultimately, The Black Lace took the spot light. Question: If I plant this here will it interfere with anything if it grows tall?

So now that the cherry tree is history what do I do with the hole in the ground? Should I fill it in? Well in the interim of contemplating what to do with the space I decided to fill the opening with bulbs that were given to me from a very generous friend. I needed to get them in the ground in a hurry and decided what better place to lay them down. A little fill was all I needed to bed them in before the snow hit.

The Climatis Takes Front Stage After Forget Me Not Stops Blooming


The House Next Door Is Softly Camouflaged with the Deciduous Black Lace


Privacy Is What I Planned and Wanted - a Climbing Hydrangia Along Side Eyonomous


Raised Beds Give Definition and Allow the Eye to Look Beyond

My Garden Is Changing Every Day


Tell Yourself What You Want Before Digging In

I want flowers blooming everywhere with no weeds.

I want a grand entrance to welcome my guests.

I want to hide an eye sore and create a more gentle approach.

I want to be drawn into a space so great that it speaks to me, calms me.

I want a place to relax in.

I just want a place to admire.

I want a home for my fairies.

I want an elegant, low maintenance garden with some color and winter pleasure.

I want to use my garden like a library of color, making it easily accessible for sharing.

A patio would be nice with a fire pit built in the middle and with flowers surrounding it.

A quaint place to get lost in.

If I turn this blistering hot area into a cool retreat I could rest from the scorch of the day.

I want more sun.

The Questions Dance Around with the Angels and Your Need Gets Recognized

What do I want to accomplish here?

What elevations can I get away with?

Where will I need to retain the earth?

Do I have water runoff issues?

How will I boarder my garden?

Do I want a grand entrance or a soft approach?

Roses Continually Bloom in Your Garden


It's Ok to Mix and Match


Once you find your reason for wanting a change, your creativity will lead you. Your answers to your need will create more questions. Take it slow, relax, meditate through each thought. That is what gardening is all about. A meditative state even while you are just thinking about the outcome.


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    • More Than Words profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Bogwald 

      6 years ago from Oak Ridge, NJ

      Thanks for stopping in HomeDIY. I would highly recommend using rare miniature conifers. Give each one at least two to three feet in between. They grow very slowly, are very low maintenance and some have brilliant color in the winter and early spring. Start collecting the rarest you can find. They leave a clean appearance and spark conversation. Start small, get hooked and it won't hurt your wallet all at once. It is so much fun finding a plant and incorporating it in your garden, especially if you have room. Join the American Conifer Society and learn the plants or research the plant on the internet before you buy it. Some miniatures grow very large, somewhat fast. The plants you want to focus on should be derived from cuttings, grafted. Grafted plants are a bit pricy but worth it in the long run. You can enjoy them for years without doing a thing once they are established. When they do start growing just selectively pinch off the new growth, called candling. I wouldn't suggest planting any flowers unless you know if they are invasive. Rule of thumb, if someone is giving plants away they are more than likely invasive. Have seeds will travel. They will need more attention. You can avoid reseeding by carefully deadheading/taking off the dead flowers after they bloom, before they go to seed. You can find plants that require little time that make a big impact, but you will have to do your research. Some flowering plant suggestions would be miniature Azaleas, Heather, Bulbs, Sedums, Hens and Chicks. Also, look up my other hub on Trough Gardens and Garden Tours. These hubs are packed with delightful information to help you make the right decisions. Work together on your decisions and ask yourselves the questions that will walk you to your new garden.

    • HomeDIY profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the great article. Been working on the garden and I want a jungle but my significant other wants order. Any suggestions for compromise?


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