Garden Design Series #2 – The Design Style

Garden Design Series #2 – The Design Style

Practical garden hints for designing your garden

Continuing on from last week, I am focusing on helpful hints for ways of designing your garden.  Last week I tried to work out what the “Needs” of the garden were.  This week I am looking at the landscape design style of the garden.  This is another question I ask my clients in the first consultation, what style of garden do they like.

This can be a tricky question to answer, I know I struggle myself to answer this. To be honest I don’t think you have to be a purest when it comes to gardens, your preferred style may not fit just into one particular category.  There are no rules you have to stick to you can have a mixture of different styles however they have to be able to flow and work together.  I always look at the existing house and will aim to design a garden that will fit in with the architecture of the house.  The particular architectural style of the house will guide me in working out the overall layout and feel of the garden. I will discuss how the house influences the overall design of the garden in the design principles section of this garden design series, in coming weeks.

If a client is really unsure about what type of style they like, I normally suggest to go through garden magazines, garden books or even do a deep dive into pinterest.  This is so they can pull together a collection of images that they find inspiring and will give them something to work towards.  It will also give me a feel of their design aesthetic.  These images might just show an overall view of an outdoor area, it might just be a corner of a garden, it may be an entertaining space.  It could even just show a collection of colours that they like.  These images can be used to create a design colour palette.  If you are really unsure of what you would like to create in your garden using books, magazines or websites is a really great place to start.  It will also allow you to decide on what you don’t like which is sometimes more important than what you do like.

If you are working with a designer you need to be able to communicate your design style to them.  By Having these images it will illustrate to them what appeals to your taste and can make their work a lot easier. It will narrow down their ideas and will often give them a really clear picture of what they need to design for the space.

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very true.

Please remember if you are working with a designer you are paying them for their opinion and recommendations so be prepared, they may make an assessment that some of your ideas won’t work in the space.

I think, referring back to your design palette or inspiration boards can help you focus on what you want – you also do need to know when to hold back – you don’t want one of everything in your garden.  If you have one of everything in your garden it will end up looking like a big mess.  It is good to brainstorm all of your ideas and then you need to edit out some to form your space.

Please remember you do not need to be a design purist but I do think you need to keep garden design layouts simple.  Try to create good structure in the garden.  The structure or the bones of the garden are what you will see throughout the four seasons of the year, so you need to ensure they work well.  The other plants are the decorations, some may be annuals, some may only flower at certain times, some may die back at different times.  The plantscape of the garden will directly impact the overall garden design style. For example if you select to plant out in a garden bed with a tropical style gingers next to a group of daisies, I feel these will work against each other in trying to create a design style.  More on plant selection in coming weeks. When you think about the hardscape of your garden no matter what design style you use they all need to relate to each other.  The structures and materials used in the garden should be similar to form a cohesive design. For example I would not put a white marble Italianate style water feature next to a terracotta Buddha.  They both work against each other. 

If you would like to look at a range of design styles then start looking in garden books or magazines or you can start using pinterest or the google search engine to see what is online.  If you are looking on line some key styles to google would be at Cottage Gardens, Informal Gardens, Formal Garden, Modern Gardens, Contemporary Gardens, Naturalistic or Meadow Garden Style or Mediterranean Gardens.

Next week I will go into a more detailed description of all of these garden styles. They each have their own individual characteristics.

Glenice Buck