A well-kept garden, tidy and arranged in every part is always the business card of a cozy house or a public facility. Each garden can never be identical to another, because the varieties of plants and flowers to be used, the furnishings and decorative elements that will complete the whole can be combined with each other in infinite different possibilities. However, designing and setting up a garden is not an easy task, so much so that there are real professionals in charge of this work, so if you do not want to call on the help of an expert in the field, you must carefully evaluate every detail and follow all step by step all the advice that we will provide in this guide to design a garden in the right way.

Garden design: what is it and what is it for garden design?

Garden design is primarily used to make good use of the space available, taking into account the various logistical problems that must be considered as a priority, such as irrigation, safety or road conditions within it. Therefore, to be more concise and synthetic, designing a garden serves to ensure:

  • a correct use by the users;
  • good durability over time;
  • a correct and harmonious inclusion in the context of reference.

Only with adequate and careful planning by the supplier can the garden be functional, usable and well organized. Each corner must be well studied, depending on many factors, such as sun exposure, shelter from the wind, the distance from the point of irrigation and so on. Very important is then the design in order to choose the plants and the ornamental holes, because each of them will have a specific function (fencing, visual, shading, acoustic, delimitation, etc. …), whose preparation must be considered as a priority so that they can last over time. In fact, some plants need shade, others still need a lot of sun, some need a lot of water, others instead, such as succulent plants, suffer if too much watered. In order to avoid similar problems or, worse, more serious cases related to safety, such as, for example, that someone touches a poisonous plant that must not be planted in an easily accessible place, it is absolutely important to do a proper and careful design of the garden. When designing a garden, it is also important to choose the right materials, so that they match the context, are long-lasting and guarantee efficiency. The materials, like the plants, can also have a precise function, for example by ensuring the division of areas by means of a different flooring or by constituting a point of shading if used for the construction of a canopy. Although the design of a garden may seem like a complicated activity, in reality if you follow a few simple steps it could also become a fun way to imagine and then realize our dream garden, to have a well-kept corner of paradise, safe and perfect in every part at our disposal.

How to Design a Garden: Start Designing

Before you start planning a garden, you need to take stock of the situation and evaluate priorities and compromises. First of all, in fact, it is very important that it is clear how we want our garden: if we think of a small green space dotted with plants here and there but easily accessible or we want a space completely full of plants, flowers, shrubs and trees that greatly limit the viability but that have a strong ornamental impact. Deciding is not at all easy also because, as we have briefly mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the possibilities of combination within a garden are truly infinite and you can always create green spaces different to each other. One way that can give us a valuable help in understanding what kind of garden you want to design is to leaf through a gardening magazine or look at some photos on the web of a garden complete with all the plants, all the furniture and all the ornaments. The choice is never simple, so it is advisable to create a range of possibilities, and then going to exclude choose the one that best suits our tastes and our needs. In addition, it is clear that it is also possible to model several examples together but taking them into account only for certain aspects, thus customizing the garden of our dreams. More specifically, if for example in a photo we liked a particular corner but we do not like everything else, we could model that small space and integrate it into the design of our garden, where we will include all the other aspects that we liked in the other models. However, it should be stressed that taking a photo as a model and then reproducing that space in our garden does not mean that we are going to recreate the detail that struck us about the example exactly as it is, but there will always be variables that must be considered and that are related to the context in which our garden is located. First of all, the space available, the orientation and slope of the lot, the type of terrain and sun exposure and more. So the models should be taken as a simple cue, but not as something to recreate then faithfully, almost as if it were made with a mold, in our garden. All this preliminary work, which is based only on abstract concepts and our imagination, is absolutely necessary to start already on the right foot and thus have clear ideas in the design of our garden.

Advice and analysis to do to design your garden in the right way

The analyses that must be made to proceed with the design of the garden are various:

  • First of all, a preliminary analysis of the context in which the garden is located is required;
  • immediately afterwards, it is necessary to carry out a conceptual analysis, by means of diagrams and diagrams;
  • a general analysis follows, which has an overall view;

Finally, the actual specific design is prepared.

The preliminary analysis involves the drawing of a real map of the garden, try to make it as faithful as possible, taking appropriate measures and bringing them to scale on the map. In this way you will have an excellent starting point for the design, on which you can evaluate in real time the spaces and shapes that you have available. However, a drawing can easily confuse ideas if it is not supported by a more realistic data, for this reason it is advisable to take a series of shots or, even if you are able, to make real surveys. Conceptual analysis, on the other hand, is the moment in which all the factors that must be taken into account in the design of our garden are literally grouped in diagrams, such as: the climate, the type of terrain, sun exposure, the shelter from the wind, the landscape in which it is inserted, any buildings or constructions with which it must live and so on. Only with a conceptual analysis, in fact, can all these data be considered simultaneously and the various relationships they have with each other can be ascertained. Once we have established how to order and arrange all the elements on the basis of the factors described above, we can move on to the drafting of a general programming: that is to say, a graphic representation is made on the map prepared during the preliminary analysis. This representation is, however, summary and serves only to order the elements in relation to the landscape, spatial and logistical context that we have available. At this stage it is possible to modify some choices that are no longer considered appropriate for the project. A more in-depth graphic representation, with attention to every detail, is the one that, instead, must be prepared for the specific design. In this phase, the materials, furnishings, plants and various ornaments to be used in the garden must be chosen. If you are more accustomed to the use of technology than the traditional paper and pencil, you can use for the design of your garden specific computer programs that serve to create the perfect garden in 3D, taking care of the detail of every corner of the garden and having available digital catalogs more or less provided that will also help you in the choice and arrangement of the furniture. Finally, it is very important to consider the master plan of the municipality in which the garden is located and then request the necessary permits if you want to start substantial work on it. As mentioned above, the factors that must be considered are many, but more specifically five of them are essential for a successful design of a garden:

1. The space available

The space available is probably the factor that most affects the design of the garden, since everything must be organized in its function by providing inside every aspect. In fact, in a garden there are several areas that must be organized and well defined within the space, for this reason some of them must be fenced, paved, covered by vegetation, affected by important structures, such as a fountain or a swimming pool, or even there may be areas equipped with a canopy that can provide shade, under which to place the necessary outdoor furniture and furnishings. All these areas must be harmoniously integrated within the space available, thinking of them and placing them in advance on paper, physical or digital, in order to realize the actual space they will occupy. In order to have all these well-defined and organized areas inside the garden, a very important function is played by the vegetation and materials because they will have the task of marking the boundaries. For example, a hedge or a bush can act as a kind of screen, just as a break between two different areas could be provided by a change in the flooring: for example, in reinforced concrete for the driveway and in wood for the equipped area. The choice of vegetation and materials must, therefore, also be bent to this functionality. We must also consider the orientation of the lot that we have available, because according to the latter will vary the choice of plants that we must use in our garden but will also vary the arrangement of furniture and furnishings. Therefore, the space available in the lot and all the conditions that affect this part of the land where our garden will be built is of fundamental importance, because it is on these factors that all the choices that we will make during the design will be articulated. It is not by chance that when drawing up the plan of the garden it is absolutely important to take the right measures, in order to be as precise as possible in calculating the space.

2. Climatic conditions

The climatic conditions of the area in which we are designing our garden are important to understand especially which plants to use in our garden. If, in fact, we live in a very hot area is good to prefer plants suitable for this type of climate and that do not need a lot of water, such as succulent plants. If, on the other hand, we live in a colder area, it is advisable to plant vegetation that is resistant to a harsher climate and that is suitable for blossoming during the winter period, such as the beautiful and colourful Christmas rose also known as hellebore, which, however, must be handled with great care because it is extremely poisonous. In the latter case, for example, if we have decided to plant a toxic or poisonous plant in our garden, it is good that this factor is taken into account in the design by relegating it to a corner not easily accessible by children or other users who could accidentally touch it and encounter unpleasant complications. Obviously it is also of great importance to understand when it is the best time of the year to be able to plant a certain type of flower or a particular type of plant, so that it can take root in our soil using the right climatic conditions. If the climatic conditions are not in our favor but we still want to plant a certain type of vegetation, it is advisable to recreate a suitable environment: for example by placing the plants that need more shade under high bushes or trees that can give the necessary shading or maybe under a real canopy or even placing the plants that need a lot of water next to the nearest point of irrigation. For this reason it is good to take pictures at any time of day in the area where the garden will rise to understand which are the areas most exposed to sunlight and those most in the shade. By marking the areas found on the plant, we will have a real guide to the best position to choose for some types of vegetation.

3. The type of soil

The soils are very varied, as it changes the type of drainage and the nutrients that are inside it. For example, if you have decided to install a turf on your soil it is a good idea to first evaluate it so as to understand if it is actually suitable or if it is necessary to correct it. In order for the soil to have the right properties and the necessary nutrients for the plants, it is a good idea to fertilize it. Usually the fertilization is done twice a year: once in spring and once in autumn, so as to ensure the nourishment of the plants throughout the year. Moreover, it is important to always carry out an organic fertilization rather than a chemical fertilization, because only with the first one will increase the capacity of the soil to retain water in the subsoil, which is a very important feature to make our vegetation last for a long time. The slope of the ground must also be evaluated, since, for example, to install the turf, the ideal ground must be slightly flat or slightly inclined. Soils with furrows, crags or humps are not very popular or functional and must be levelled to ensure that the garden is harmonious with the landscape. In general, the best soils are certainly those that are very deep, with a fine texture and a non-compact structure. Definitely unsuccessful is a clayey soil, but generally in Italy we have alkaline soils that are very fertile and provide the ideal environment for vegetation and the proliferation of grassy coverings. However, if you should have an acid soil, you can proceed to correct it with the appropriate alkaline products on the market and with the mediation of an expert in the field.

4. Lighting

The lighting of the garden is very important inside the garden to make it functional to the liveability of the space, but it is also an excellent way to complete the furniture and the order itself. First of all, we have to consider which corners to light, besides clearly the equipped area, which is the most functional area of the garden and which will have to be lit for logistical reasons. But as far as the areas covered by the vegetation are concerned, they could only have small spheres of light or small spotlights that illuminate the leaves very weakly, thus recreating a very relaxing aspect. For this last feature you will have to pay attention to the choice of light, whether hot or cold, a choice that you will have to make based on the context of the garden and your personal taste. In fact, if the materials and plants you have used have nuances that tend to warm colors, it is good to prefer a yellow light that can always recall this atmosphere and thus make everything more harmonious. If instead you have chosen materials that tend more towards grey and you have plants with white or blue flowers and so on, you could opt for a white or even blue light. Playing with the lighting, in fact, will help to give the look you want to your garden, giving it the appearance of a heavenly and relaxing place or even making it look like a magical fairytale place.

5. The choice of plants

As we have already said, the choice of plants depends on many factors and it is a choice that must be carefully calibrated, perhaps with the help of an agronomist or a florist who can advise us on the plants best suited to our soil and the climate in which we live. In general, however, as far as the design of the garden is concerned, plants can take on different functions that go beyond the purely decorative and ornamental one. In the first place, the plant can take on a fencing function for other plants, i.e. a tall bush or a tree that can withstand the sun’s rays well can provide shade for a plant that prefers lower temperatures instead. Secondly, the plants can have the function of delimitation, marking the boundaries between one area and another: a function of this type is carried out for example by the hedge or bushes of rosemary, sage, lavender and so on. Plants with a high shading power could be used to recreate a relaxing space in which to place even the necessary furniture or even some other plants could also have a deterrent function for some insects or animals in particular, such as lemongrass, which is not very appreciated by mosquitoes. Finally, it is obviously important to consider the ornamental aspect of the plant trying to vary by color, but especially by flowering season, thus always having flowers open in the garden at any time of the year.

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