Ideas for Garden Design

Making the decision to cultivate a garden is merely the first in a long sequence of choices a gardener must make if success is to be achieved. Along with location and plant selections, design plays an integral part. Included in each design is the overall garden shape, the placement of the plants and materials. Consider what kind of garden you want to grow and incorporate all of those elements to ensure its specific function is realized.

English Garden

You can try growing an English garden full of movement and color. English gardens are ostensibly about appearance, but incorporate other showy plants in them, such as pole beans and carrots with lacy tops, for food and interest. Select three or four main colors and create symmetry with plant groupings of three or five. Build natural, curving borders that blend in with your home's exterior and that enhance walkways and porches. Include a bit of whimsy in the design with a bench, small fountain or trellis with a flowering vine.

Perennial Garden

According to the University of Illinois Extension, perennial gardens date back to 1890, when George Nicholson, a curator for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, suggested one. Nicholson's aim was to move away from the more formal, rigid gardening styles of the time. Today, perennial gardens save money with plants that return year after year. Group them with shrubs and trees for variety, and include a few annuals. Plant the tallest flowers, such as delphinium, in the back of the garden; plant ground covers in the front. Coordinate plant selections so that your garden has blooms throughout the growing season. Follow your own tastes when it comes to design and keep in mind that this type of garden constantly evolves and can take years to achieve the desired effect. Move some perennials around each year to change the look.

Rain Garden

Rain gardens rely on rainwater and stormwater runoff to grow. They are usually small and "designed to withstand the extremes of moisture and concentrations of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, that are found in stormwater runoff," according to the Low Impact Development Center. Their main purpose is to filter stormwater via under-drained and self-contained soil systems and plants. Place a rain garden uphill of a depressed area or in a depressed area, amend the soil to make it more porous and plant woody plants that can withstand wet and drought extremes.

Vegetable Garden

Grow your own vegetables to enhance your meals and save money. Cultivate vegetables on a plot that has well-drained soil and that receives full sun. Grow cool-season vegetables, such as leaf lettuce and radishes, in the spring and fall, and warm-season vegetables during frost-free days. Include stepping stones or paths for easier plant care and harvests. Plant the taller vegetables, such as tomatoes, to the north of shorter plants, such as carrots, so that they do not block the sun. To maximize your space, grow vertical-growing plants, such as pole beans, with stakes or an obelisk. Plant the vegetables in rows.

Keywords: garden designs, garden design basics, garden design ideas

About this Author

Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.