How to Design a Simple Garden


You've got the gardening bug and have made the decision to add a garden to your home. Starting with a simple garden design allows you considerable flexibility to add more plants in the future. As you'll discover, gardens are as fluid as Mother Nature. They change, spread, die off and rejuvenate in wonderful ways every year. Let's look at how to design a simple garden.

Step 1

Choose the location for your simple garden. Visit this spot on your property and bring the garden hose, notepad and measuring tape with you. Arrange the garden hose into whatever shape flatters the location. Round, square or rectangular gardens offer a very simple design form for a basic, balanced garden. Free-form-shaped gardens blend very well with existing surroundings. Fiddle with the garden hose until you decide on the garden outline.

Step 2

Measure the general length and width of the garden and include these measurements in your notepad. Knowing the general volume of the garden will help you design a more complete garden in addition to aiding decision about soil additive and mulch quantities. Sketch the permanent features of your home onto the graph paper and add the garden onto the drawing using a scale.

Step 3

Observe and note the movement of the sun and shade through the proposed garden area. This research will prove essential in choosing plants for your simple garden. Document this information in your notepad.

Step 4

Visit your local garden center (with the notepad) and look for plants that appeal to you. Evaluate whether these choices will work in your garden based on sunlight availability. Remember that native plants require less maintenance.

Step 5

Decide on the garden color scheme, taking into account those colors that will blend with the house and existing landscape features. Simple garden design should relax the viewer and give the impression of peace and simplicity. Use color based on your preference for establishing a mood to the garden. Vibrant colors such as reds and oranges grab attention. Cooler colors such as green, blue and light purple offer a more restful impression of the garden.

Step 6

Choose foliage plants as the focal points for the garden. These types of plants include ornamental grasses (large and small) and others with limited blooms but interesting leaves. Select one or two focal point plants maximum for a simple design.

Step 7

Place plants on your design based on the garden shape. Add a tall focal point to the center of a round garden or include taller plants in the read of rectangular gardens. Work outward or forward for these gardens with plants in descending order in height to complement your focal point plantings. Pick a location in your free-form garden for a focal point plant and build outward with more random spacing of plants.

Step 8

Consider balance in the garden to create a sense of simplicity. Choose similar plants at equal intervals from the focal point. Limit the type of plants and repeat these plants throughout the garden to tie it together.

Step 9

Transfer your preferences to your drawing and get ready to plant your simple garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Graph paper
  • Notepad
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape


  • University of Vermont Extension
  • University of Florida
Keywords: design simple garden, simple garden design, garden design

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.