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How to: Garden Design Basics:

Updated on May 22, 2011

the basics

There are two things that you need to remember when designing a garden. Pay attention to both and you will create a space that you and your family can enjoy.

The first one is simple: It’s your garden. You do not have to please anyone else with your plant choices but yourself.

The second one is what I call the right plant right place rule or RPRP. When you place a plant where the conditions give it what it needs (water, soil, light) that plant will do well and reward you with fruit and flower throughout the season.

For RPRP to work you need to know three things:

One: what are the conditions where you are planning to garden, for example how much sunlight and/or shade?

Two: Be sure the plant gets the water it needs. If you are in a dry area, use plants that can tolerate the dry conditions, if the site is wet, use plants that like it wet.

Three: will the plant grow in your garden hardiness zone.

More on zones in a future hub,

Talk with the staff at the local plant nursery, ideally seek out the manger or owner when you have specific questions.

Now that you have the bare essentials we will move on to the other design elements that will help you create a garden that everyone can enjoy.

Basic Garden Design Elements:

· Line is likely the most important design element and certainly is the one you will most often use in your design. For an informal look use a curved line for a more formal one use straight lines..

· Texture is defined in 3 categories. 1-Coarse includes plants, structures and hardscapes that are bold and large. 2-Medium texture takes in many plants and smaller structures. 3-Fine includes plants such as ferns and grasses and structures that are thin and delicate.

· Form is the shape and structure of your plants, hardscapes or garden structures.

· Colour is the visual POP in your design. Blues, Purples and Greens are calming and seem to move away from you. Whereas warm colors like red, orange and yellow seems to bring things closer to you.

· Scale or proportion in the landscape is simply the size of your plants or structures and how they relate to each other and the area you are landscaping.

You now have the basics. It does not matter whether or garden is large, small or somewhere in-between, if you follow RPRP and apply the five design principles you will enjoy the results. Happy gardening.

designing a pathway

colour in design


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Hans Dekker 10 years ago

    Great hub Bob. You are a pro. Come and visit our space when you got time. Critique or praise from people with profesional knowledge is highly appreciated

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 10 years ago from New Brunswick

    all the best RA

  • Research Analyst profile image

    Research Analyst 10 years ago

    This is great, I want to start a herb garden this year.

  • cgull8m profile image

    cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

    Thanks Bob, I will give it a try come spring.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 10 years ago from New Brunswick

    One way is to introduce them to the new spot for an hour a day for a week and then gardually increase the amount of time they get in the sun.

  • cgull8m profile image

    cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

    Bob, I have two Jasmine plants, it is almost three years old now. I put it in a wrong place, it is under the shade. How I can move it out towards the sun without hurting them? They seem to creep everywhere, I put some wire nets but is not helping much.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thaks gabriella05 let me know how it works out.

  • gabriella05 profile image

    gabriella05 10 years ago from Oldham

    Thank you Bob for this information, I think I went wrong on the lining and the colour in my garden, so I have copied this hub and I am going to re-try again

    Thank you very much to share