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The Basics of Designing Gardens

Jun 11, 2008
Just like the ad says "Just Do It,"; this is exactly the perspective one needs in getting good at garden designs. You can always move plants around your gardens and as your ideas and taste change, your gardens can grow with you. There are some simple elements of garden design. Think of designing your garden with living art in mind being creative and free to try whatever suits your taste. There are no limitations to the creativity that is within, no comparison or fear of failure. Although gardening successfully requires learning certain skills, when all is said and done a garden's beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Just go for it and let your gardens be the expression of you.

Garden design and its principles used may be called by different names. There are three basic concepts when combined together will bring about good garden design. Ultimately your gardens' design is up to you and should reflect your own personality and flare.

Order, balance and proportion are the basic structure of the garden. Order is symmetrical through repeating plants or colors. Bold or bright additions bring balance as well as adding some texture. Texture is an important ingredient. Gardens come to life with different textured plants much like the human race. All different but flowing together and being brought together through unity and harmony creating comfort and peace. When all of the parts of the garden are flowing together it is captivating and ones' spirit is caught up in the beauty.

Using a limited color pattern, repetition of plants and a clear focal point creates this environment. Theme gardens are very soothing: all one color, butterfly gardens or cross gardens keep you flowing in like unity. You'll also hear a lot of talk about starting your garden with good bones. That basically means creating an outlining foundation, with trees, structures, paths, etc. for the rest of the garden to build off of. Evergreen is a favorite of the good bones.

Having a focal point is a big benefit for every garden. With no focal point the eye starts to wander here and there without every getting a grasp of a main feature. This is not creating the harmony you desire for your gardens or creating any curb appeal.

Beginning gardeners seem to pick the same flowers or foliage over and over again which has no visual interest. Planting an architectural, bold leafed plant, can restore this visual interest instead of the monotony of likeness.

Last, but not least, is adding color to your gardens. Experimenting with your favorite colors is a good way to see what works best for you. The best advice to heed though is to start out with 2-3 colors to keep the artist palette limited. You can always add new colors to your gardens by eyeballing it along the way. This way you keep the living painting flowing in the harmony you wish to relate. You will then have a peaceful retreat that you have created and enable others to share that intimate part of you.
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