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29 Sep 2017


The aesthetic value of a home can be enhanced by the presence of a well-managed garden. Gardens are beautiful and they also have numerous advantages. Why do you think you need a garden in your home? There are many reasons why people make their own gardens, for some people, it is a wonderful place to relax among beautiful plants and flowers, it is also a source of nutritious and healthy foods for other people. In this chapter, we will discuss the ways you can create amazing beds and borders. You will also find vital information that will give you awesome ideas for color schemes, creating amazing hot beds, cutting down the pastel designs and astonishing white displays. We have also covered the basics concerning the use of plant forms and textures to get the very best look for your garden all through the year.

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Have you chosen a garden space around your home? We have also included useful tips that will help you choose an adequate style for your garden considering the space you have chosen to use. With this information, you will be able to decide if you would prefer the ordered symmetry of a formal design or the simple aesthetics of a cottage garden. There are also practical illustrations on different gardening techniques which include methods you can use to prepare the soil, planting techniques and the simple guidelines to pruning.


Gardening is a wonderful activity. There are many garden styles to choose from. Your choice will ultimately depend on the space you want to use for your garden and your lifestyle. You should also consider the free time you will have to tend to your garden. The garden style options include- gardens displaying a well ordered symmetrical pattern, simple cottage garden designs, the Japanese minimalism or the contemporary urban designs. These are all good options, all you need to do is choose which style suits your home space. 

Formal garden design

The common features of a formal garden are the use of adequate symmetry and a clear ground plan to create a balanced design. Formal gardens are characterized by straight lines, order, and geometry with a properly delineated garden space. Formal gardens are usually created along pathways or in a central pattern with adequate provisions for a walking path through the center of the garden. In a formal garden, everything is planned to be in the right proportion with a conscious effort made to create a good balance and geometry while identifying the location of plants or trees.

You can choose to use the simpler symmetrical shapes however, formal gardens look better with geometric shapes predominantly featured in the garden. The simpler symmetric shapes could be used to adorn one of the axis in the garden. This garden style will also feature lawns and neatly clipped edges, these features are used to create an ordered look by demarcating spaces and borders. The dwarf boxwood hedges are perfect for defining the edge borders, they also have aesthetic functions as beautifully designed parterres and the offer the flexibility of creating knot gardens. You could also choose to plant trees along the paths to make a distinctive long range view from both ends of the garden. Other features include the Balustrades, steps, terraces and wide gravel pathways which complete the picture. The beauty of a typical formal garden is enhanced with beautiful cobble mosaics and brick designs while tougher landscaping features using gravel and the standard paving stones are minimized.

Depending on your taste, you could also choose to use features like classical ornaments to beautify your formal garden. Your options include Versailles cases, urns, and statuary, as well as topiary-commonly used to create a long range focal point. You can go further to include pools with fountains or jet sprays. The reflective nature of water will add an astonishing touch to your garden.

 While there are many opportunities to use flexible styles to design your formal garden, the basic simple guidelines should be followed to get the best effect. Aspects like the symmetrical designs can be blended with some formal looking features to get a more urban look. What you can do here is making one of the axis out to be more prominent than the other, alternatively, you could also use some well balanced rectangular beds covered with subtle looking yet beautiful plants. The formal garden once completed usually requires minimal maintenance,  and for styles like the paved courtyard garden adorned with plants set in an architectural design, the formal look can be completed by using big sized containers and a small sized pool. In summary, the features of a formal garden include geometric shapes, clipped topiary, and simple looking hedges. If there is a pool, the reflective feature will throw some light on the green plants creating a truly amazing effect.

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Informal garden design

If you wish to create an informal garden, then you should consider options like the basic country gardens, cottage gardens, wildlife gardens and the prairie-style of planting which display informal garden designs. Choosing to create an informal garden will allow you enjoy a good measure of flexibility when planning your design and the pattern you want to use for planting your choice of flowers or shrubs.

The Cottage Gardens

Cottage gardens have a simple design, the common features layout is a pathway centrally located through the garden to the main entrance. There will be planting beds with flowers, herbs, and vegetables on both sides of the pathway. If there is enough space, you could choose to include natural features like an orchard, meadows and simply designed ponds. The methods used to soften the edges of the flower beds is by planting flowers which tend to hover over the path while they self-seed.  The regular plants found in a cottage garden include hellebores, lungworts(Pulmonaria), grape hyacinths (Muscari), aquilegia and a variety of daffodils. In the spring time plants like tulips, hardy geraniums, lilies, lupines, poppies, campanula, delphiniums, hollyhocks(Alcea rosea) and peonies in summer. Many owners of gardens like this mix plants and herbs in a good harmony that also looks very beautiful. You can also choose to plant edible crops like herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees. For more variety, some ornamental plants can make the setting look more like an informal garden.

The best materials for a hard landscaping will be natural stone, brick, cobbles, and slate. To defined boundaries externally and internally, you can use the common post and rail or a brightly colored picket fence.

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Country Gardens

If you choose to create a country garden, you have made an excellent choice too. The country garden has a calm look, characterized by a sprawling piece of land with beautifully curved beds with flowers. hedges are used to define borders, the country gardens also have closed demarcations which have a variety of planting designs to create different beautiful views. The prairie and wildlife gardens are (the choice of designers who need an urban look) have plants and ornamental grasses as well as those solid looking perennial plants covering vast areas of the garden.  The best choice of grasses to be planted among the perennials include stipas and Calamagrostis, you can also plant rudbeckias, asters, echinaceas, and helenium to get a varied look. The prairie look is achieved by using vast spaces where there is good sunlight and the radiant plantings create a beautiful look. The wildlife gardens are excellent for providing a natural habitat for birds and small farm animals. You can also make your domestic garden to have the features of a wildlife garden by incorporating planting patterns to get a natural look. Your choice of plants should be flowers rich in nectar and trees with shades. there can also be a pond where reptiles and other amphibians can live. It would also be a source of water for the birds.

 If you have a lot of space, you can also choose to create a wildflower meadow. The requirements for this includes a space where there are abundant sunlight and infertile soil upon which the native wild flowers and grasses will thrive.

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Prairie-style plantings

Let us discuss some features of the prairie style gardens. They are usually created to have grasses planted among a variety of perennials to create a calm and relaxing effect. This choice of garden style should be created during the late summer period when plants like the eupatorium, echinacea, and sedum will thrive.

The informal features of cottage garden displays collections of pink flowers growing over an arbor echo spotted over areas on which cottage garden perennials have been planted in beds.

Mediterranean Garden design

The Mediterranean region has the formal and informal gardens associated with it. The formal gardens utilize water and stone, specimen trees like pencil cypresses and clipped hedges.

Decorative parterres are majorly found in the formal garden design with plants being chosen for their foliage rather than the color of their flowers. There are gardens like the El Alhambra in Granada and other gardens in Spain that have a very visible Moorish influence with their water features, formal courtyards and other visible landscape design. 

The most easily achieved Mediterranean landscape design is the informal garden style with a relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere. The major hard landscaping material is gravel and it is used to form pathways and between planting areas. The Mediterranean garden design involves the use of plants like figs, santolinas, olive trees, artemisias, vines and citrus fruits. Herbs include sage, rosemary, thyme and lavender. Plants in the Mediterranean region usually have blue-tinted, silvery, gray-green and sage foliage that can reflect the summer sun well.

Landscape architects in urban Mediterranean regions design courtyards with walls that are bold, blue, pink, white or warm terra-cotta. They also utilize cobbled floors, mosaic-tiled walls and terra-cotta pots with white convolvulus cneorum and bright pelargoniums. Those that stay in cooler regions might include a courtyard heavily basking in the sun that will provide a shelter for plants that are tender.

Hot gardens that face the South require a shady pergola or arbor that is adorned with flowering climbers like jasmine or bougainvillea that will create a nice relaxation or dining area.

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Desert Garden design

Desert gardens are classy, beautiful and dramatic in nature. They are found in hot regions with low rainfall. Landscape architects can design them with gravel, boulders, driftwood, pale-colored walls and rocks. Desert gardens have plants that are tough and can resist droughts like cacti and succulent plants like aloes, yuccas and agaves that do not need extra irrigation. A desert garden is an eco-friendly one as there is emphasis on plants that can survive with very little water.

Desert garden design

Japanese Garden design

Landscape architects design Japanese gardens to reflect the natural landscape by using a restricted palette to produce meditative, quiet places. A good Japanese garden must have the elements like plants, gravel and boulders connecting to each other spiritually and symbolically.

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To create a Japanese garden design, traditional spiritual beliefs are important to the design. Shinto and Buddhism embrace nature and every natural element is considered worthy of respect and sacred. Key elements are used to depict natural landscapes. Stones are used to represent boats, animals and islands while raked gravel is used to depict flowing water.  The gardens require little or no planting and they rely on lichens and moss instead of large plants. The gravel in the gardens is raked every day which is a Buddhist ritual that serves as a guide to meditation.

In Japanese tea gardens, beauty is regarded as a spiritual advisor. These gardens have a roji which is a dewy path that is lit by stone lanterns. The roji takes the visitor on a journey past stone buddhas, water basins and other spiritual symbols to the tea house. Japanese tea gardens are heavily planted and often include azaleas, pines, maples and camellias. They are pruned regularly to control their size and they form miniature forms of large shrubs or trees in the garden.

Plants in the Japanese gardens are not focused solely on evergreens and color is sprinkled here and there in the form of irises in the summer, camellias and cherry blossom in the spring and fiery maples all making up a flamboyant display.


Contemporary Garden design

There has been a lot of rural to urban migration with contemporary gardens providing spaces for relaxation, dining, entertainment, play and planting. Contemporary gardens can vary in nature. They can be treated as green oases where plants majorly thrive or as functional spaces where hard surfaces reign with lighting effects, water features and furniture combine to formulate an outdoor room.

A contemporary garden makes use of simple lines using a combination of man-made and natural materials like glass, plastic, steel, concrete and acrylic to provide varying textures. They also come with asymmetric floor plans. They can also have cascades, jets or even reflective water. The furniture in contemporary gardens could be coordinated tables and chairs, recliners and integral benches with sculpture serving as a point of focus.

Contemporary planting garden design

Contemporary gardens are not usually that large, so plants are in usually limited species that can serve as good architectural interest. Plants may include large-leaved foliage plants like phormiums, cordylines, hardy banana (Musa basjoo) and bamboos and grasses.  

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Landscape architects use small festucas, ophiopogons or large block paintings of boxwood (Buxus). These could be used with pleached trees along boundaries to provide privacy in the garden. There could also be dramatic containers that are made from stone, clay or steel that can be used as focus points lined up in a row that brings rhythm and drama to the design. Bamboo, bay, bold grasses, succulents like agaves and Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) and clipped topiary boxwood are plants that can be in the containers.

Tropical Garden design

Tropical gardens are popular in tropical regions with lush native plants, but they can also be created in cool climates with a proper selection of plants.

Tropical gardens have an informal design, and they include man-made structures made from unworked stone and rough timber that reflect the traditional crafts of people that live in tropical regions. The garden designs imbibe water, and they mimic the tropical landscape with streams, waterfalls and swimming pools all making up the tropical landscape design.

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Tropical gardens include textures, foliage shapes and colors.

Close to the ground, there are short plants and shrubs like grasses, lower-growing shrubs and flowering perennials like streptocarpus and strelitzia or birds of paradise. Taller plants include bamboos, eucalyptus, palms and cordylines.

Tropical gardens can be created in temperate areas with exotic plants like hardy bananas (Musa basjoo), tree ferns, fatsias, ferns, bamboos, phormiums etc. If you highlight bright details, you can use white arum lilies (Zantedeschia), lobelias, canna lilies, crocosmias, agapanthus and dahlias.   

Also read: Garden Design with lights.

22 Sep 2017

Garden Design with Lights

With creative lighting, you can create a unique look for your garden at night. Subtle, soft light will bring a few elements into focus and make the best of various colors and textures. But you can get styling options with the use of specialist lighting. You should be careful with electricity and ensure that an electrician is available to go over your garden design plans.

Lighting in a Garden design

If you flood your garden with strong lights that shine from above, you stand the risk of causing light pollution and disturbing your neighbors. Avoid the use of strong lights that create a harsh effect and shine directly into the eyes of onlookers. You should still maintain areas of shadows so that the theatrical effect of garden illuminations will be better felt. Come up with a good landscape design factoring in the type of lighting that will be needed in each area. For a fountain, underwater lighting will be needed. For a barbecue grill, directional spotlighting is perfect. Recessed lighting is perfect for a deck. Work out every plug point and cabling circuit and let a competent electrician go through all your ideas. Various lighting effects can be experimented with by using a large torch or different torches positioned at various angles.

Lights garden design

Practical Considerations for Garden design Lighting

You will need a power supply source unless you want to use a solar powered light. Power cables will need armored ducting to prevent any risk of electric shock. Outdoor sockets that are waterproof should be installed by a competent electrician. When a transformer is used to power low voltage lights, the transformer must be housed in a building or a waterproof casing. The transformer will step down the voltage of the house to a lower one that can be used with many garden design lighting products. The number of lights and the power needed will determine the size of transformer to be used. An indoor switch should be installed by your electrician so you can turn off and on the lights from indoors easily. Areas that will be lit for long periods like the front of buildings should be lit with long life low-energy bulbs. If an area is sunny, solar-powered lighting can be used there. For other places, energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) should be used.

Lighting design outdoor garden

Lighting Effects 

Dichromatic bulbs that change from one color to another and tiny neon-blue LED spots across a decked area make an area look very modern. Colored lighting can be used to light pools, floodlight rendered walls and trees and recessed low-level lighting can be used in decks, walls and steps to cast gentle light without a glare. Mini spots are perfect for highlighting textured plants and uplifting a piece of statuary and an architectural plant. Tiny LED lights will create a romantic atmosphere when they are woven through climbers that are on a pergola.

Types of lighting

The use of energy-efficient LEDs, reliable solar-powered units and the availability of safe, low-voltage lighting has revolutionized garden lighting. Designer lights can now be used for garden lighting. You can get a good choice of lighting products at home improvement stores. But you will get a wider range of products from specialist companies and online stores. Almost every illumination device apart from oil lamps, candles and solar-powered lighting needs to be connected to an electricity supply. A transformer that produces low voltage or a wall socket can be used to power garden lighting. Transformers are great for gardens as they are safer since they reduce the risks of electric shocks. A competent electrician should be hired to handle any lighting and make all electrical connections.


Also read: How to Select Materials in Garden Design. 

16 Sep 2017

How to Select Materials in Garden Design 

The flowers and shrubs you plant is not the only the thing that defines a garden. Garden design also involves things like the selection of the right surfaces, structures, boundaries, shape and texture of hard materials. Various materials have their own movement, color and shape. These all work together to attract people and form their perception of the garden. Materials that fit well with the landscape of the house will be more pleasing to the eye.

When making your choices, you need to consider the view of the landscape from your home. Do you want to make large areas of the hard landscaping look softer by mixing in various materials like wood with crushed shells or gravel with slate? Paths that are used heavily must be solid while you can use stepping stones, bark or gravel to make secondary walkways. If you use the same material for patios and paths, you get continuity. A change along the pathway will indicate that one is at a new section of the garden.

If you want to draw people forwards or invite them to explore sideways, you can lay materials lengthwise or widthways. Obscured paths will invite them to go exploring.

Open screens and apertures will invite them to check out what lay beyond, while solid screens and walls will shut out the vista. When creating a garden design, you should also ensure that every furniture used matches the style of the garden. The sitting arrangements must also be considered. You can’t put a large dining table in a small patio. If you do so, the patio will look choked up. You need to build a patio big enough to accommodate any furniture you use. Any piece of timber you use should have the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo to show that the wood comes from sustainable forests.

A lot of gardens have spots for water features as well as artworks. Outdoor heating can be added but the environment must be considered. All lighting must be installed by competent electricians. All solar lighting must be accessible to sunlight.

Mixture of Materials for Landscape Design

Various materials, levels and textures can be used in landscape design to create an array of effects in decking and paving designs. Various materials can be used to showcase major features and to separate and define areas of a garden. An example is a raised wooden deck over stone-tiled floors. Complementary colors should be used for a smooth blend. To avoid higher costs and extra work, use pre-sized coordinating materials. When using a different foundation and when working with materials that have various thicknesses, complicated building techniques will need to be used.

decking material garden landscape architect

Planting Opportunities for Landscape Design

When squeezed into crevices and joints, plants add texture and color. Select plants that are drought resistant, can withstand trampling and produce a nice scent when they are crushed. When combining plants and paving, think about joints carefully. A solid foundation could contaminate the soil and affect the plants negatively.

PLANTING OPPORTUNITIES garden landscape architect

Drainage Related Problems

For water to be collected or drain, every surface needs to slope. Gravel surfaces laid on soil that is rich in clay might need extra drainage. All rainwater that runs away from buildings must be collected at collection points like gullies. You can direct water from small paving areas into planting beds.

Patios That Are Slightly Sloping

Slopes should be created away from a building towards a collection point. Patios made up of rougher materials will slope more steeply than smooth ones.

Paths That Are Cambered

Paths can be created to allow water run off on the two sides. The water can then be drained into planting beds or collected in channels.

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Materials for Boundaries and Screens

The look of a garden is affected by boundary and wall features and the materials used to create them. Formerly all boundaries were built from local materials like brick, hedging, timber and stone but today, they can be made from so many materials. Garden design can utilize metal screens, smooth rendering and reinforced concrete. Those that share boundaries with others might find their choices limited, But, you could customize your garden boundary as you wish. It could be dominant or subtle. You can use your own texture, color, material and shape.

Boundaries made from rendered walls, stone or brick can enclose spaces and form a framework around your garden. These boundaries require a solid foundation and professional construction skills. They could also be quite expensive.

It’s best you don’t change the colors of brick walls and stones. You can select from expensive stone blocks to random rubbles which all come in various shapes and sizes. You can use artificial materials like concrete to create unlimited opportunities in terms of shape and color creating fluid structures and clean lines.

WALLS AND SOLID SCREENS, garden design, landscape architect

Trellis and fencing

Metal and timber fences do not need heavy building materials or strong strip foundations. This makes them cheaper and easier to build. A lot of them are made from strips of material and you can have a fence made from a combination of these lines. When selecting a design, you must take care that the design of the fence matches with the design of the garden.  You can just copy the original design of the fence to avoid complicating things or messing things up. But if you want to use a new design, you can still do so. You just need to create nice patterns using various shapes, widths and lengths of timber. For areas that are exposed, you can leave gaps in the fence to allow the wind to pass through the fence.

Effective Windbreaks

Solid screens won’t allow any wind to pass through them and create turbulence. A trellis or other perforated screens can be used to solve the issue.

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Apertures and Gates in your garden

Boundaries and screens enclose space and create barriers that curb views and movements. These barriers can be interspersed with gates, doorways, windows and other openings that allow for access to other parts of the garden. They can also make the garden beautiful and should not be seen as just openings. When working on a landscape design, use materials that complement each other and consider how these openings can serve as frames for views and vistas. You must also design gates and doors that look attractive regardless of whether they are closed or open.

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Also read: How to Integrate Sculpture into a Garden.

10 Sep 2017

How to Integrate Sculpture into a Garden Design

You don’t need to limit your choice of garden sculpture to what is provided by your local garden center. You can use any of several objects that can act as sculpture when placed in a garden. They include pieces of discarded machinery, rounded boulders, driftwood and lovely shaped ceramic vases. You just need to be creative with them. Position the sculptures in a place where they will blend well with the rest of the garden.Choosing

Sculpture for a Garden Design

Your emotional response is key to selecting sculpture for a garden design. You might love abstract shapes if your garden is modern in design. But woodland and wildflower gardens are awesome for contemporary gardens. You might even go for a blend between the two. You could mix classical pieces with a modern layout. For cottage, gardens, beehive, domestic animals and rusty farm equipment will make good sculptures.

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How to Position Sculpture in a Landscape Design

Look for the best position for a garden art and integrate the position into your design. There are some pieces that work fine when they are surrounded by plants while others go well with reflective water. Intricately designed sculptures will fit well with a plain backdrop like a clipped yaw hedge or a rendered wall. Simple solid figures could be placed against a haze of lavender. Natural stone, weathered timber and other matt surfaces will be perfect for polished metals. Matt surfaces can also be a good background for smaller sculptures.

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The Importance of Proportion and Scale in Garden design

Every sculpture should be positioned in a place where its effect will be felt best. If you place a small piece in a large area, it will look lost and its effect won’t be felt. Small ornaments can be placed next to solid pieces like a large vase, a boulder and a hunk of driftwood. Decorative objects and plaques should be fitted into alcoves in walls and they should be raised to head heights on plinths. Plastic garbage cans and piles of cardboard boxes can help to visualize how sculptures can fit into any setting.


03 Sep 2017


In this 21st century, the word “SUSTAINABILITY” has become a popular word with people reacting in a positive way to the world’s decreasing resources. Because of this, the sustainable garden design has become more of a way of life than a mode that revolves around recycling and reusing renewable resources,  embracing conservation and biodiversity and practising organic gardening.

   In the late 20th century, when the New Perennial movement was introduced, it blends flowering perennials and grasses and this led to a boost of interest in natural gardening methods. German and Dutch research into sustainable plants has been very popular in this area too.

  There is a common belief that sustainable gardens are too rural, but this should not be. There are lots of sharp and wonderful styles that include renewable materials such as timber from verified locations and advanced method of planting. At times, local materials are used if the need arises, this helps to reduce the garden’s carbon footprint and form a sense of regional belonging. With the use of natural controls and balanced ecosystems, pests and diseases can be prevented, instead of using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Environment that are good for local species and help boost biodiversity are included in the design.

   This does not mean to say that this gardens accept only local species alone, foreign species are also accepted as long as they attract the needed insects and wildlife and they do not invade the garden.

   In bigger gardens, prairie and meadow species are planted extensively, especially in America in the designs of Late Ed Bye and Jens Jensen. In small sustainable gardens, wilder species can be planted too so as to have different habitats within a small space without a complicated design solution.


A sustainable garden is that which has the ability to serve as an effective ecosystem with little or no intervention. This is what makes it different from a local garden.

  In setting up an habitat where planting neighbours survive, ecological principles play a major role. It also helps to balance competition and match species to the dominant soil and climatic conditions.


  Sustainable garden materials need to be evaluated against a number of requirements. Recycled products are good because they reduce the abuse of new resources but at times their carbon trail can be on the high side whereas getting timber from a local plantation can be a better option.

   Among other things to consider are drainage of landscaped surfaces and permeability. They should be designed in a porous way so as to fill up ground water,  or designed in a way that water goes into a certain place so as to reduce stress on supplies. A major key in a sustainable garden is planting and other types of useful wildlife habitats. Make a selection of plants that survive in prevailing climate and harmonize each other so as to prevent pest and disease. However,  you might still need to make use of biological control. Your own organic manures and compost heap should be used as soil boosters.


GREEN ROOF systems help to provide insulation, manage rainwater run-offs, convert existing roofs with the use of pre-planted sedum mats. New structures can contain bigger habitats.

Green Roof landscape design and garden design

ENCOURAGING WILDLIFE  If you create an effective habitat for wildlife, then diversity would be increased. The more the habitats such as bee hotels, old logs and insect friendly planting, the higher the diversity.

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RAINWATER HARVESTING  Water containers are always a good means of storing rain water no matter how small they are. If you require a storage with larger capacity, you can make use of pump mechanism and underground storage.

  RAINWATER HARVESTING  landscape architectural design

RUSTIC GARDEN FURNITURE  You can contribute to your local economy by getting a craftsman near your home to make your furniture. All the furniture should be made from well sourced, natural materials.

MODERN RUSTIC GARDEN FURNITURE landscape architectural design

RECYCLING FEATURES It is very important that you Recycle organic waste through compost. Compost bins may be needed so as to have constant supply. Put them in locations where you can regularly and easily access them.

RECYCLING FEATURES landscape architectural design

NATURALISTIC PONDS For natural habitats for aquatic creatures and birds and insects like dragonflies, you can set up a wildlife pond with sloping sides that are easily accessible and have margins to give cover.

NATURALISTIC PONDS landscape architectural design

Also read: Garden design and colors.