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My garden is a mess. There are irises in the corner of the yard, lily of the valley by the front door, tulips along the walkway, and one daffodil that grows under the rose bush. There’s no form or function — it’s pure floral chaos. This year, I decided I was going to do something about my wayward garden.
After doing some research, I found three specific elements essential to the perfect garden design.
You Need a Focal Point
In design, focal points are areas of interest, emphasis, or difference within a composition that capture the viewer’s attention and lead their eyes through a work of art. Focal points in a garden design work much the same but have the added benefit of creating visual order and giving your garden character.
When planning your garden design, the first thing you should determine is your focal point. Once you have a focal point in position, you’ll be able to determine where to place the other major elements of your garden — paths, patios, water features, etc.
Hardscaping is Important
Hardscaping is what takes a garden design to the next level. Pathways are a great place to start as their material, shape, and width can all be used to create a mood. Wide, straight paths of concrete encourage leisurely strolls, while narrow, meandering gravel pathways flanked by tall flowers and shrubs have an almost secret feel to them. You can even use pebbles to create a mosaic that turns your path into a functional piece of art.
Other hardscaping elements include wooden decks and gazebos to gather friends and family; strategically placed benches to give lovers a spot to canoodle; and boulders, water features, and stone retaining walls to convey a feeling of being a touch closer to nature. Whatever you choose for hardscaping, be sure they are proportionate to the space available — otherwise, they’ll draw focus (and not the good kind).
Work With a Color Scheme
Gardens are all about color. That color can come from multiple places, including plants, pottery, furniture, fences, and even artwork.
Start with your neutral colors, as they can be used as a buffer or to tone down bright colors in a flower bed. In gardening, white, black, gray, silver, brown, and green are all considered neutrals. Now you can move on to the fun stuff — the color scheme. Using the color wheel and whichever technique you prefer for creating a color scheme, choose flowers, foliage, fruit, and bark that fit within your palette.
To keep things from getting too busy — and to keep the eye moving — plant large groups of each color and establish a pattern to repeat throughout the garden.
I never thought I’d be willing to put so much work into my garden design, but I’m truly excited to take my yard to the next level. I picked out my focal point, gathered materials for hardscaping, and have my color scheme planned — and I’m determined to have the nicest garden in the neighborhood.
If you’re thinking about sneaking some edibles into your landscaping, check out Gardening Like a Ninja: A Guide to Sneaking Delicious Edibles into Your Landscape.
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