Garden design: exploring your options

When starting out on a garden project, it's important to measure your dreamy ideas against what's feasible within the realm of your existing plot. There's no point designing a complicated herbaceous border or knot garden if you don't have the time to maintain it.

Garden design: exploring your options

Garden design: exploring your plot's options

Every garden is different. Your garden could be a wild jungle neglected by a previous owner or an untouched piece of grass in a new home. Before getting out your spade, you need to decide what you want from your open space. Is your garden a children's playground, a cat's territory or an entertaining area? Think carefully about how you're likely to use your outdoor space and this will help you determine the type of garden design you should work on creating.

Work with what exists
It might be tempting to raze everything to the ground and start afresh, but try to adapt what's already in your garden and enjoy the process of transformation - unloved shrubs might prove more attractive once they've been properly pruned. Be realistic about what you can manage though. If you're a busy person with work or family commitments, choose low-maintenance plants and features so your hard work won't go to waste if you don't have much time for gardening. Find out more information about low-maintenance gardening.

Getting the look right
Do you want your garden to be medley of colours and scents or would you prefer something contemporary and minimal? Establishing your style will help you choose suitable features for your garden. For a tropical garden you'll have to think carefully about plants that look exotic but can survive the wet British weather. For a contemporary garden you might think about slate and stone features. Read our article on how to assess your garden.

Protecting your privacy
Your garden is usually a place you go to escape from the world so you'll want it to be private. High fences keep out nosey neighbours, but can cut down on natural light. Shrubs are a good option for creating a softer boundary but if they're not evergreen, they won't be nearly so bushy in the winter months. Check out our step-by-step guides on how to erect a trellis, and how to build a garden fence for more ideas.

Be yourself
What you need to remember is that it's your garden and needs your own personal touch. Of course there's nothing stopping you from visiting public gardens, stealing ideas from family and friends or hanging out at the local garden centre. Soak up the inspiration wherever you find it.

More garden design ideas
If you're not sure what to do with your garden, check out the following articles for inspiration:

  • How to design your garden
  • Creating a child-friendly garden
  • How to transform a neglected garden