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Garden Design 101

Updated on May 25, 2009

Just as pets calm our minds, relieve our fears, and lower our blood pressure, gardens have been scientifically proven to be as equally effective. Stepping from your back doorstep into a wonderland of fresh, clean, pleasantly aromatic, well landscaped gardening can have the same calming, soothing effect as a chocolate lab bouncing down the drive to greet you as you arrive from the office after a long hard demanding day.

A cocker spaniel ‘silly all over herself’ to get to her favorite person in the world makes you feel like there is one being that totally, completely lives and breathes just to be near you. A garden has the same sort of effect when you have created it from just a heap of dirt in the backyard…a poorly fertilized heap of soil at that!

Gardens, in addition to adding years to your life can add dollars to the resell value of your home. And, we are not talking just a few dollars—we are talking big bucks! Homes all over the United States have reportedly sold for as much as $10,000 more with a garden costing only 10% of that. A unique, tidy, well thought out, well tended to garden that was obviously loved by someone creates the feeling that the entire home is loved by someone or better yet, by an entire family. Any family would want to move into a home that is honored instead of haunted, loved instead of just lived in and well tended because it is cared for so much.

Basic Garden Design ideas

  • Water gardens

    pools, ponds, live fish and plants or just a pile of pretty rocks with water flowing over them…regardless, moving water is soothing and appealing.
  • Country theme gardens

    1. English garden

    2. Japanese garden

    3. Irish garden

    4. Country garden

    5. Italian Garden

  • Kitchen/cutting gardens

    designed with the cook or chef in mind, filled with plenty of fresh cutting herbs, cherry tomatoes, a bit of garlic, perhaps even veggies for a super fresh salad.
  • Courtyard or small town garden

    Perhaps this may even include gardens designed in containers, buckets or raised cordoned off sectional gardening.
  • Remind-You-Of-Childhood garden

    Bulbs, flowers and aromatic plants can create a specific style garden reminiscent of mom’s favorite cutting garden.
  • Kiddy garden

    theme garden designed with the family’s children in mind. A sandbox in the middle of lots of plants designed, grown, watered and tended to by the family and the family’s children. The whole process of creating and tending to a kids’ garden can bring the entire family together.

Don't Underestimate Your Neighbors!

The neighbors can generally let you know where they got their soil tested and may even be able to share their results saving you the expense and time of testing it yourself. If you have soil issues, soil can be enhanced and changed via additives. If the neighbors aren’t a good resource for your particular situation, soil analysis can be done through the extension agent or through a local home garden store. They will inform you on how to prepare for the soil analysis.

Garden design resources

Professional garden designers can be contracted in any country, state and city. Check with your local county extension agent. The extension agent’s position is to provide local residents with information, tips and hints on how to go about with one’s gardening adventure. Another resource is the local landscape design center or local home improvement store with a garden section. Check on these suggestions for further information as well:

  • Local extension agents whose jobs are contingent upon providing the local resident with accurate, up to date, information to begin their research
  • Landscape design center / local home gardening center (similar to the nationally known Home Depot—most of which are open until midnight and many of which are open 24 hours).
  • The neighbors are a wonderful source of information on all sorts of issues such as problem plants and other problem issues in your particular zone, shading and sun exposure throughout the year, what plants work best in your zone, what additives are needed…the list goes on and on. Just remember that you need to double-check the information with another source just to confirm that what your neighbor is telling you is, in fact, accurate.

Planning Your Design

Some of the things you will want to consider and plan for are:

  • the actual planning of the garden before you even begin the planting process
  • understanding the soil and the soil’s contents for proper planting and fertilizing
  • choosing plants and grass to better enhance and protect the landscape and conserve water where ever possible
  • maintaining the landscape including mowing, trimming and feeding\fertilizing
  • hardscape including the trees and larger bushes—some water conservation may need to be built into the garden from the very beginning
  • watering systems including irrigation, drip watering and sprinkler systems
  • mulching and other less permanent water conservation techniques
  • cultural practices including traditional methods of garden care that can be a part of proper water conservation practices as well as making Mom happy!

There are as many ideas for garden designs as there are gardeners. Unique, personal and individual gardens made for the needs and pleasures of the gardener and his family are the heart of a man’s castle…his home.

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    • profile image

      Ben Lannoy 

      6 years ago

      A great resource for clients of mine to come to and know what they're getting into before we start to go into further discussion. A great guide for the basics of garden design!

    • profile image

      John C 

      7 years ago

      Wow, this is really a great guide.

      One thing these garden design have in common that is not basically part of it is an outdoor furniture setup. And this very helpful so that we can have a comfortable place to stay in the garden. More about furniture for a garden here -



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