Garden Design Hints & Tips

Designing your garden is the first step in turning your vision of a lush outdoor space into a reality. While the welcome fresh air and warm sun of spring can leave you itching to head to the nearest nursery and bring home a car full of plants, the best way to build an attractive garden is to spend some time on design and planning first. A few hints and tips and a little forethought can go a long way toward helping you create a satisfying garden.

Advanced Planning

The key to a well-designed garden is to plan well ahead for every element. Create a scale drawing of your yard and garden space and sketch out your plans for the space. This includes flower beds, trees, shrubs, fencing, sculptures, water features, patios, walkways, arbors and furniture. Zone various areas of the yard according to the amount of shade and sunlight available. Consider features such as an in-ground sprinkler system or drainage ditches, and note how these will affect various spots. Taking time to consider these elements will help you select plants that will thrive in each area of the landscape. Once you have completed your design, make a shopping list and price each item before you begin shopping. This way, if you need to cut back to fit within your budget, you can remove small items throughout the garden and avoid ending up with a bare corner when you run out of funds.

Size and Shape

When designing your garden, it's essential to think of it not only in terms of how it will look this year, but how it will look several years later. Consider the size and shape of each plant both at the time of purchase and at the time of maturity. Annuals have less time to grow, so you can count on these staying relatively contained. If you change your mind about the look of annual plants, you can also rest assured that this will be an easy element to change next year. Perennials, on the other hand, require more detailed planning. Provide plenty of room in your design for these plants to spread. The same is true of vines, ferns and ground covers. Keep in mind that a little can go a long way and you will be able to enjoy a neat and well-maintained garden rather than an overgrown mass of plants.


Carefully coordinating the colors both in and around your garden will help to create a cohesive look and feel throughout. Consider the kind of atmosphere you want to create in your outdoor space. You can make it bright and lively with bold shades of orange, red and yellow. For a romantic feel, try roses, ferns and small delicate flowers in shades of pink, white and lavender. Contrasting colors can make interesting pairings such as blue and orange or yellow and purple. You should also consider the color of your house, porch and outdoor furniture. A home with deep red siding would clash horribly with a display of nothing but pink flowers. Even the color and design of flower pots and other containers will come into play. When in doubt, opt for neutral colors such as brown and gray for these features, and let the flowers take center stage.

Keywords: garden design, landscape design, gardening styles

About this Author

Mandi Rogier is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a wide range of topics. As a previous employee of Walt Disney World, she enjoys writing travel articles that make use of her extensive knowledge of Orlando theme parks.