When taking on a new project, whether it’s the garden of a new home recently moved into or a garden you have had for long time, planning is an important first step into creating your dream garden. Even if you don’t have the budget to build the whole project from scratch, skipping this important stage may cost you in the long run. It’s a good idea to have a goal to work towards rather then aimlessly changing your mind!

So what’s involved in this stage? Well, to begin with you should measure the garden and draft yourself a plan drawing. Drawing to scale is not essential however it will help and this can be achieved with the purchase of a scale ruler, available from most stationers. Begin with the boundaries of the garden and then include existing features such as the position of the house, any services – that is manhole inspection covers for example, patio’s walls, sheds etc.

With your rough drawing you can now set about deciding which features you require in your garden design. For example, a patio/seating area, sheds for storage, a pond – if that’s your thing. Most clients seem to require these 4 basic elements which include a lawn area, some planting beds & borders, a shed and a seating area.

So now you have your list of features to include, now is the time to decide on the best positions for your features. For example, a south facing garden which gets plenty of sun would likely have a seating area built adjacent to the house or perhaps on the East side of the garden to get the evening sun. The evening is a valuable opportunity for busy people to relax in the garden so keep an eye out for where the last of the sun lies!

Once you have roughly located your features it’s time to think about shape. In order to create a bold design try and stick to basic geometric shapes such as squares, triangles and circles. Squares usually work best in small gardens for those hoping to achieve a contemporary feel. Triangles can work well in long and thin spaces and circles lend themselves to a more organic feel.

Sometimes a very bold design is not desirable. In this instance I would begin with circles and join them together to create sweeping curves.

When finalising your layout its very important to consider the space allocated to your features and this fundamental issue is often overlooked. Make sure your seating area is big enough to enjoy safely. Ideally the area should be big enough to walk around with all the chairs pulled out from the table. Think about how much lawn area you actually need and aim to get a good balance between planting and lawn of at least 1 third planting to 2 thirds lawn. Avoid small strips of border adjacent to tall fences and keep things in proportion.

Once you have your layout finalised its time to consider which materials you would like to use….. More to come