How To Design A Garden From Scratch

Where to start?

Planning a garden from scratch can fill the designer with every emotion from dread to delight and probably many others in between! However, some careful thought and attention to detail at the outset can save time, money and a good deal of unnecessary graft, so spend a while considering the following before embarking on your own personal Eden!

What’s it all about?

People use their gardens for a variety of purposes and it is wise to establish who will use your garden and how before setting your heart on a design that will be inappropriate for your garden’s function. For example, if you have pets or children who need space to play and kick a ball about, a garden filled with delicate blooms will only lead to frustration and upset all round. This needn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to a featureless expanse of wall-to-wall grass. Careful consideration of how the area can be divided into separate zones and a wise selection of plants of a slightly more robust nature could lead to a more harmonious garden experience for the whole family.

Making the most of what you’ve got

Unless you intend to embark upon extensive (and possibly expensive) drainage projects, a garden that tends towards being damp will not be a happy or successful home for plants such as black-eyed susans or Californian poppies. Likewise, neither will a particularly dry site be favourable for certain clematis or beautiful, feather-like astilbes unless you build in an elaborate irrigation system. You should also consider how your garden is situated regarding areas of sunlight or shade as this will also have a bearing on the types of plants that will thrive or fail, as will the condition and type of soil heathers and azaleas, for example, will enjoy an acidic environment, but this will not benefit the likes of lavendula or most viburnums who crave an alkaline soil.

Over the fence

When establishing what will and will not work in your garden, it can be helpful to look at other gardens in your immediate area as they are likely to share the same climate and type of soil and will give you an idea of what works well. Talking to other gardeners can be very helpful; most are happy to chat about their horticultural successes and failures and their local insight is a good guide when planning your own planting.

Size matters

A large, leafy plant may add a sense of drama to your tiny courtyard, but think carefully before splashing out on shrubs and trees that may eclipse all light from your home and garden. Research the potential height and spread of potential planting investments you may get more than you bargained for! Consider, too, that large plants often have extensive root systems that may be detrimental to your property or that of your neighbours. A reputable garden centre will be glad to advise you on the best varieties for your patch.

Sit back and relax!

Whether yours is a blooming miracle, a bounty of fruit and veg or a pretty play area, don’t forget to include an area to sit and enjoy your garden in your plans. Depending on your situation, this may be a spot close to the house or a space further down the garden, maybe found at the end of a winding path or through a rose-strewn arch. Yours may be a shady haven or a super sun-trap, but you should think about what’s going on underfoot. Traditional paving or wooden decking have their merits, but it’s worth investigating the benefits of composite decking from This eco-friendly option is made from 95% recycled materials and will not rot, splinter or require painting. Composite decking is easy to install, slip resistant and comes guaranteed, so will not need replacing for many years, meaning you can sit back and enjoy your garden for even longer!