DIY Design

Design / DIY Design / Design Styles / Design Small Gardens / Low Maintenance / Designing a Kitchen Garden / Feng Shui Gardens / Healing Gardens

Garden design starts by- inspecting the site for its shape, topography and boundaries.
- When redesigning a garden, one needs to decide which existing features should stay and those that should go, aiming to keep as many mature trees as possible.
- Gardens should complement the style of your house and its surroundings.
- Establish your needs and preferences, in priority order, on paper. This list should guide you, but keep in mind the available space, the intent of balance and very importantly the cost of construction and maintenance.

Use the following information to aid you in your personal need list:
Taps and their location are of utmost importance.
Trees will be the first plants to consider in your design and planting scheme. They live for many years and you need to decide on their purpose, for instance to provide privacy, shade or focus.
Flowerbeds and shrub borders of formal or informal, colour, height and shapes. Shrubs and trees should create the frame of your garden and think in horizontal and vertical lines of triangular shapes.
Lawns should be the lush green carpets of your garden.
Ponds and water features for a touch of magic! Ponds need to be positioned where they will receive ample light, be child-safe and have protection from invasive roots from trees.
Swimming pools need to be child-safe and should ideally receive afternoon sun. It is advisable to fence the pool in and with a wide range of fencing it is possible to make this yet another feature.
Rock gardens needs to look as natural as possible and good drainage is essential. These gardens are at their best during spring, with an often-dull winter. Incorporate evergreens, winter-flowering bulbs and annuals for summer interest.
Built-in barbecues provide social times in the garden, for all to enjoy. The positioning should be free from close by overhanging trees. Alternatively use a portable barbecue for areas that are too small.
Patios or paved areas are ideal for tubbed trees and container plants. There should be enough space for furniture and easy movement.
Gravelled areas for interesting ground texture. In areas with high traffic consider building a low "wall" frame to keep the gravel together, or bond the gravel to a resin. They are also great for security, making any walking on audible.
Pergolas, trellises or arches provide a touch of rustic romance when displaying creepers and vines. Pergolas should be sited where one can enjoy the garden and its fragrances. Arches should look equally attractive from either side. If used in smaller gardens you may want the pergola or arch positioned at an angle. A trellis is best when extended beyond the wall's height.
Garden furniture and benches are of absolute necessity! The purpose of creating your dream garden is for you to eventually enjoy sitting in and admiring it. The furniture should enhance the spot it is in and merge with the overall theme. Choose your sitting area where there is sun for half the day, with rain- and wind-protection. A tree seat makes a lovely feature but is only effective around a wide trunk.
Wildlife is encouraged to the garden through sheltering trees, shrubs and ground covers. Baths and feeding trays will attract bird life within a couple of days.
Paths and steps should be practical as well as ornamental. A path tapering to the furthermost end gives the illusion of a longer site and by planting the end densely it creates the illusion of a larger garden. Step sizes should be wide enough to avoid slipping, based securely in firm settings.
Play areas for children are rewarding for both them and us! Choose the spot according to the sun, ensuring shade during the hottest parts of the day and position slides etc. well away from hard objects such as paving areas.
Greenhouses and sheds for those lucky enough to have the space. The requirements for greenhouses are ample sun and light, with no wind. Alternatively one can erect a trellis on a hidden and protected wall for hanging garden tools.
Herbs, vegetables and fruit which are home-grown are both rewarding and money saving. The site should be wind-protected with sun for most of the day. Certain apples can be pot-grown for those with limited space, and "Step-over" apples can be introduced in flowerbeds as edging.
Lights for nocturnal beauty and practicality. Lighting along pathways, barbecues and sitting areas enables you to entertain and enjoy the outdoors at night.
Compost heaps need be screened off and in open air.
Washing-lines are often something you can't do without, but hate the sight of. Consider some form of screening with maybe a trellis and climbers.
Dustbins. You don't have to settle for their drab appearance, so paint them too and let them become part of the colour scheme.

Start the drawing of plans by measuring the garden and features you're sure to keep, such as your garage and house. Sketch the garden and its existing features roughly on graph paper, writing measurements down around the edge of the paper. Draw an accurate version of this sketch to scale.

Next you can bring style and theme into the design. Choose between styles, the line use and whether you predominantly want foliage and greenery or colourful flowering. Garden styles are usually (a) a combination of formal and informal, (b) geometrical, (c) formal and symmetrical or (d) informal with flowing lines. While playing with ideas it is advisable to use tracing paper over your scale drawing. Sketch as many designs as possible, exploring your different preferences. Do not as yet go into plant- or material details. Once decided on a particular favourite, you can start filling in certain texture details, like paving or gravelled areas. Explore again until you have created your basic design.

The planting schemes.
Make a list of plants you would like to include, their flowering times and ultimate size and spread. Ensure the chosen plants will be happy in your climate. If new at this I would suggest you draw and cut little circular scale templates out, representing the different plants. You can colour them in different greens and other shades, for recognition, add the name and details too. Start with the placing of accent plants and features, like trees, and work around these. Play with their placing until a balance is reached both in aesthetic appeal and assuring greenery throughout the year. Thus spreading your evergreens evenly. Placing taller plants behind mid-high plants and end with the lowest growing plants in front to ensure a view of all and give the illusion of depth. When happy with the planting order you can sketch a more detailed version of your design.

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