Make the most of your time, energy and money by producing a master plan before you start work on your garden.
This way you can keep to your plan, however long a period the project turns out to take, and avoid developing your garden in a haphazard fashion. The last thing you need is to carefully (and perhaps expensively) create one area of the garden to then discover you cannot design other essentials around it.
So draw up your overall design first, then set your priorities for action, and then (and only then) can you start thinking about details such as which plants to put where. Remember that there are plants and solutions for every garden situation (shade, sun, poor soil, wet areas) and requirement (play area, pets, flowers, food), so there’s no need to worry about these at too early a stage.
If you’re not sure what type of garden you’d like, then look at the variety of possible garden styles shown on Crocus’ website. If you like more than one, and if you have the space, you could always partition your garden and create a different style in each section.
Step 1 of a garden design master plan. An outline
- Concentrate on the basic outline of the plot. Avoid details at this stage.
- Include existing permanent features ie the house (and the position of doors and windows overlooking the garden), the garden boundaries, neighbouring buildings and trees when you draw your outline plan.
- Include any existing garden features that you decide to retain because they are attractive or impractical to remove (eg a mature tree).
- Note where north is, and any areas in permanent shade or sun.
- Add features that you want or need, such as a drive, path, patio and so on.
- Draw and re-draw these planned elements until you’re sure that everything that you want is included and in the right place.
For example, any clothes-drying area, fruit and vegetable plot, pond, rockery or greenhouse need a sunny spot. Dustbins need an accessible but unobtrusive site. Rabbit hutches and other outdoor pet quarters need to be convenient for you and comfortable for the pet – not in full sun or deep shade.
Step 2 of a garden design master plan. Fine-tuning
- Your outline plan should look pleasing to the eye on paper and should be checked on the ground before you implement any of it.
- Check it on the ground by roughly marking out the design using hosepipes and canes, and then study the result from all angles, including from upstairs and downstairs windows.
- Check that your eyes are led from one feature to another so that you can take in the scene in a relaxed way, rather like viewing a painting.
- Adjust, adjust. If you find it difficult to walk through your planned garden with your eyes, then some adjustments are in order. The problem may be that you have more than one focal point or that there’s no link between different parts of the garden. Often a path provides the necessary link, but any continuous line, such as the edge of the lawn, may do the trick. Lawn edges can be adjusted as you go along, but you need to get the hard landscaping in the right place the first time to avoid too much sweat, blood and tears.
- Need ideas? Read our articles on how to Design for easy gardening, Design garden paths and patios, Add a third dimension to your garden and Choose and use trellis, arbours and arches.
- Need more ideas, or instant solutions? See different garden styles, plant combinations and pre-designed border packages from Crocus
- Finally happy? Then draw up your action plan so you know what to do first. Some of our other articles should help you do this, such as Landscape a new site from scratch (much of this also applies to a garden you don’t like), Create a garden in a week or so, Create quick cheap boundaries, Create and care for lawns and Prepare the ground and plants for sowing and planting.