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Aussie Green Thumb – Top Gardening Tips For Everyday People

Design Series – Garden Design 101

Here at Aussie green thumb we’re always trying to help you get the most out of your garden. We want you to have the best possible backyard you can, really!

One of the most fundamental ways you can get the most out of your backyard garden is to have a sensible and effective garden design. You don’t need to be a qualified landscape architect, but knowing some basics will definitely set you on the right path. Over the next few weeks we’ll be releasing a design series taking you through the basics of garden design all with the intention to make your outdoors area that much better.  Be sure to also check out our 5 Backyard Landscaping Secrets for some more tips.

To start the series, we’ll be looking at the very basics in our Garden Design 101.

What is garden design?

To put it simply, garden design is the style and way the ‘pieces’ in your garden are laid out and presented to a viewer. The ‘pieces’ obviously include your plants, but they can also be things like pots, or feature points like a water fountain. Following a certain garden design style or theme will influence  the way these pieces are set out, but also influence the type of pieces you might want to use.

A cottage garden design theme like this uses plants with lots of colours and flowers so that there is always something happening in it. Using a plant that doesn't match that style would just look out of place

A cottage garden design theme like this uses plants with lots of colours and flowers so that there is always something happening in it. Using a plant that doesn’t match that style would just look out of place. Colours that work together – Michael Coghlan. 

Certain plants lend themselves to certain garden design themes, as do a lot of feature points commonly used. Sticking to a certain theme doesn’t necessarily mean that all other plants wont work, but it does mean you might need to refine a planting list if you’re chasing a specific look. For example, imagine a cottage garden in your head…now, can you picture a 6 foot tall cactus matching? Probably not…

There are a lot of different design themes and concepts out there, and it’s not a one size fits all direction you’re following. You want what is right for you, and your garden design should fit your style and maintenance preferences, and also match your gardening skill level as well as allow you to get what you want out of your garden.

 

 

Garden design or Landscape design?

This might sound like a confusing question, but it is important that we clarify the difference here.

Firstly, think about the term ‘Garden’ and what it means. A plot of land worked and planted with flowers, herbs or fruit and veg? A garden indicates a gardeners involvement and continued work to keep it in a certain style.
Now, lets think about the word ‘Landscape’. A landscape is an area as a whole, and encompasses everything within it’s boundaries, including gardens.

So then garden design involves the individual garden aspects, whereas landscape design involves the aspects and components of an entire area, including gardens!

The landscape design here includes the rolling hills and lake to draw the viewers eyes down towards the focal point of the bridge. The wooded garden area on the right provides a slight break so the eyes movement is more gentle. A bright ellaborate garden here would have clashed with the theme of the landscape.

The landscape design here includes the rolling hills, meandering track, and the lake to draw the viewers eyes down towards the focal point of the bridge. The wooded garden area on the right provides a slight break so the eyes movement is more gentle, as well as acting as a ‘halfway’ destination for a visitor on the track. A bright elaborate garden here would have clashed with the theme and taken away from the landscape as a whole. Prior Park Landscape Gardens – Spencer Means. 

Why point out the difference though? It’s important to keep in mind the overall idea of your landscape design when planning out your individual gardens, because the two need to work together in the overall scheme. Your landscape may only be a small backyard , but the gardens within it need to compliment each other and the whole space. An uncomplimentary garden in landscape can leave your area looking disjointed and patchy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic design concepts. 

We’ll be exploring some different styles of garden design in the next few weeks, but it’s good to get the basic down now before we do.

The gardens in front of this house are mirror images, and create balance when we look. We're drawn into taking in the whole facade of this house by a contrast of green and orange, which begins with the topiary balls in front of terracotta pots, which is repeated and moved upwards by the thin pines contrasting against the orange house.

The gardens in front of this house are mirror images, and create balance when we look. We’re drawn into taking in the whole facade of this house by a contrast of green and orange, which begins with the topiary balls in front of terracotta pots, which is repeated and moved upwards by the thin pines contrasting against the orange house. Chippenham Park Garden – Karen Roe. 

The most basic concept of any garden design is this – To draw our attention.
Designing our gardens draws the attention of anyone who visits it to whatever we want them to see. In whatever style we choose and whatever complementary pieces we use to do it…our design is trying to highlight something. It can be multiple things at the one time, but we’re always trying to highlight what we feel are the best aspects of our garden.

 

 

 

 

 

This isn’t as confusing as it might seem, and if you think about it, you’re probably doing it already anyway.

This walkway is highlighted by the designed gardens beside it. The obscured end of the path makes us want to walk further in and see whats around the bend.

This walkway is highlighted by the designed gardens beside it. The obscured end of the path makes us want to walk further in and see whats around the bend. Hidcote Manor Garden – Dave Catchpole

It’s why we plant our smaller flowering plants in the front and bigger shrubs at the back; so that nothing is hidden from sight. We plant dead straight hedges leading up to the front door of our house to lead the visitors eyes in, and we plant big feature trees in the front yard all on their own for everyone to see.
That’s the best bit of garden design! You can tweak it to suit what you want to highlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2 is up now, where we touch on formal vs informal gardens, and get into the basic concepts of balance and simplicity.

 

 

 

 

 

About the author: Professional horticulturalist from NSW. Be sure to follow us on Instagram as well! Aussie_green_thumb.

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