How to design a gardenIf you plant a garden in order to enjoy it, then you should probably put it where you spend time outdoors or where you pass often--near the back terrace, along the driveway, at the foot of the front steps, or by the swimming pool. An informal assembly of shrubs such as Viburnum, Syringa (Lilac), Clethra, Roses, and Hydrangea offers a combination of bright flowers, fruit, and striking fall color, as well as a rich green backdrop for the summer spectacle that unfolds at their feet. If you site your border on a hot sandy bank or in a low, poorly drained area, you may have to abandon your list of favorites and do some research to discover plants adapted to your soil type. It's also important to note the relative position of anything that is to remain inside the border--a shrub or a boulder, for example--and the location of nearby shade trees, hedges, fences, or other objects that might affect the amount of light that reaches your garden. Height, flower color, bloom time, and leaf texture should all be considered (and we'll discuss each in some detail below), but the overriding concern of the gardener can be summed up in another question: will that plant grow for me? The chart at the end of this article lists many good garden plants and, along with flower color, height, and bloom time, indicates their sun and soil requirements. Gardeners dream of borders brimming with flowers from early spring through frost, but most bulbs, shrubs, perennials, and even many annuals bloom for a limited period of time. For the budding designer, the big question is whether to devote most of the border to a group of plants that flowers simultaneously, for a superb but brief crescendo, or to opt for a less spectacular but longer-running show. Silver Artemisias, golden Callunas (Heathers), and purple Heucheras complement the flowers of other plants when a border is at its peak and offer welcome dashes of color when blooms are scarce. A garden of daisy-shaped flowers, for example, may be colorful and charming, but add the trumpets of Lilies, the spikes of Liatris, Foxglove or the flat-topped heads of Achillea, and the airy cloud of a Gypsophila, and the composition really sings. Then indicate the points of the compass (North, East, West, and South) in one corner and add the important landmarks--trees, shrubs, large rocks, fences. * Consult the White Flower Farm catalog or Web site, the cultural instructions booklet shipped with your order, and the label that comes with every plant for recommended spacing.
Gardening 101: Planning and Design Guide | Planet NaturalThinking about your yard or garden before getting to work can create a unified area that accents your home and provides years of enjoyment. Consider the factors that will affect how your garden will grow — sunlight, shade, wind, drainage, access to water, foot traffic patterns — and the balance between lawn, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. The map can be as formal (a scale version on graph paper) or casual as your need for detail dictates, but the more accurate it is, the more thorough your garden plan will be. Surf the web, ask questions on garden forums or check with the Cooperative Extension Service in your area about what plants grow best and require the least amount of water and maintenance. Think about what each new feature needs (for example, a vegetable garden requires lots of sun, good soil and frequent watering) and decide whether it will work in your place of choice. Budget, ease of care, compatibility with neighboring plants, aesthetics and size all come into play in garden design. Large trees and shrubs can shade out other plants, so carefully decide the size and location suitable to your plan. Fill a trash bag to simulate shrubs; place it on the end of a big stick or pole to make pretend trees. When choosing a location, consider planting the flower garden close to an existing structure (house, patio, fence, window etc.) A bed that is 5 feet wide provides enough space for three layers of plants, making a lush, full garden. Patios, decks and pathways make the garden usable and provide space for you to enjoy all your hard work. A spacious sitting area (one where you can push the chairs back without them reaching the edge) is the perfect spot to enjoy the garden.