Tips on Garden Design

Tips on Garden Design

Garden design is a big subject, but you can learn a great deal and get some tips from the displays in this Cape Cod garden center. One of our designers, Brenda Barnhart-Brodt, puts together lovely displays and you can take design ideas from them that can be applied to your own yard and gardens. Although in a garden center the plants are placed much closer together than you’d plant them in your garden, the general design principles apply. Here’s one display Brenda created this month, and a few ideas from this arrangement that you can use.

You may have patio or yard funiture that's different in shape or style, but it will nevertheless be attractive in the landscape.
You may have patio or yard funiture that’s different in shape or style, but it will nevertheless be attractive in the landscape.
  • Look at the group of 4 tall evergreens in the background. They provide important height for this garden and a nice dark green background. In the home landscape you could use similar Arborvitaes or upright Junipers, or plant a small deciduous tree such as a Kousa dogwood. The important thing is to have an upright element somewhere in the garden.
  • Notice how there is a range of different colors and textures of foliage in this display. There are some fine leaves and some large leaves. There are some that are some plants with purple foliage and several shades of green. The grasses provide several colors and textures that contrast with the other plants’ leaves.
  • You can see that Brenda has used groups of several plants, not a single plant here and there, or two plants next to each other. Unless you’re planting a large specimen plant, gardens usually look best when groups of 3, 5, or 7 plants are used together. Alternating one of these with one of those usually makes a garden look polka dotted and unfocused, so group the plants you’re using instead of interspersing them.
  • The table and bench are a very important part of this design. Garden furniture and ornaments provide weight to a design, and offer relief from all the fine textures of foliage and flowers. Placing a bench, chair, large rock, or other solid object in or among the plants instantly improves a garden design. Even a birdbath will work wonders!
  • Flowers are wonderful but they are only part of a good garden design. Note how only about half the plants in this display are flowering, yet it still looks interesting, colorful and attractive.
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  1. Scott on March 28, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    I like that you point out that it is OK to have a table and bench in the garden. I can see why this would allow there to be contrast between the foliage and the furniture. My wife and I are wanting to have a flower garden that we can walk through and spend time in. I’ll have to recommend that we get some kind of chair or bench to put in there to help bring it all together.

    • CLFornari on March 28, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Any sort of furniture says “rest” to the eye and brain…as well as providing that solid object that contrasts with the textured foliage. Have fun with it!

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