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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.

26 Aug 2017


Color is a highly important tool in garden design. It can affect our senses and the way that we react to our environment. With colors, landscape designers can express a mood, atmosphere or message. For example, cool colors have a spacious, calm and gentle effect while warm colors create a vibrant, lively and exciting atmosphere.

The Color Wheel

The color wheel is a device that is used by landscape designers and landscape architects to show the visible relationship between colors and the results of mixing different colors together. The color wheel can perfectly explain why some color combinations will be horrid while others will look lovely. It shows how a color can contrast another one or blend seamlessly with another color.

The Color Wheel in Garden Design

Primary Colors

Primary colors are the largest parts of colors on the color wheel. They are the colors from which other colors are obtained. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. If you mix other colors, you can’t get these three colors.

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Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are gotten by mixing two primary colors. Secondary colors are green, purple and orange.

Secondary Colors flowers garden design

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are obtained by mixing and adjacent primary and secondary color in various quantities until the wheel becomes a rainbow that is circular.

Planting Flowers and Plants with Colors

Landscape designers can create different color combinations with flowers and plants. The palette can be changed to create various colors for different seasons.

combination colors in Garden design

Hard Landscaping

Hard landscaping can make the garden colorful when there is no flower or plant in bloom. The effect of hard landscaping is usually unchanged though sometimes the weather could affect the colors.

Hard Landscaping in Garden design


For natural contexts, landscape architects use earthly tones which are gotten from natural pigments. To create the feeling of excitement, energy and optimism, they use bold and bright colors.

Paint color garden design

How Colors Can Be Combined Perfectly

Garden design could be a creative challenge as landscape designers can blend various shades and tints of different colors to create a beautiful landscape design. A color wheel is often used to showcase the effects of various combinations and select the best one. The most important thing is to blend each color and contrast them in a unique way that can engage the viewer. The dominant colors will be the colors that are given the largest amount of space. 

Opposite Colors

Colors that are opposite each other on the wheel are called complementary colors. Examples are green and red, purple and yellow. The contrast of these colors creates a vibrant look when used together. But care should be taken to avoid eye strain.

Opposite Colors combination garden design

Adjoining Colors

Harmonious colors or analogous colors are selected from adjoining hues. They match each other well, create a sense of order and they are pleasing to the eye. One color is usually selected to dominate the others. The others are there to support the dominant color while creating an ‘OR’ effect.

Adjoining Colors combination garden design

Triadic Colors

Triadic colors are a trio of colors that are uniformly spaced around the color wheel. They can be used together by landscape designers to create vibrancy in a garden design. Triadic colors are best used for foliage and flowers rather than hard landscape. They can look too noisy if they are used for hard landscape.

Triadic Colors combination garden design

Color Effects

In a landscape design, colors are never visualized in isolation. They are always visualized as part of a general design contributing to create an aesthetic effect.  Other compositions are texture, line, scale and form. Elements like shadow, intensity of sunlight and others can also affect the way colors are seen outdoors. Landscape architects must understand the use and effect of various colors in a landscape design to create the best effect.

Color Effects in garden design for landscape architects

Color Influence

Color can be used to influence a particular area or environment. An object can become more visible if it contrasts well with its environment. Saturated colors or hues are dominant and can create the highest levels of contrast when they are used together. Lighter tints or darker shades do not contrast each other that much. Small areas of light can be used against dark areas to create an accent. Recessive colors like green or cool blue can create an illusion of distance.

Creation of Highlights

Color highlights can be used to create bold effects in a garden. They can be achieved when adjoining hues are combined close to each other or one hue is contrasted with another. Plants with complementary colors will make each other brighter when they are placed close to each other. Plants with hues that are close to each other like purple, pink and red will mix with each other to create a harmonious effect.  When a single intensely colored plant is used in a recessive background like blue or green, the bright plant will be more visible. The use of cool and warm colors will create a lovely composition that will showcase the color that is more dominant. The quality of light could make white look dominant or recessive.

Creation of Highlights in garden design for landscape architects

Properties of Color

Cool colors like white or blue can make an environment look more open and larger. Warm colors like orange and yellow can make an environment smaller and more intimate. Green is neutral.


Reds and oranges create a feeling of passion, excitement, vitality and energy. They work best in sunny sites and they stand out against any neutral green. But if they are overused they can be oppressive.

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Yellows are cheerful looking colors. Most yellows can work well with oranges and reds. Greenish-yellows are cooler and they can be used to create combinations that are delicate.

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Light blues can make an environment airy while deep blue can make an environment very intense. Blues create a feeling of coolness and peace. Purples carry some properties of blues and reds.

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Greens are the most popular color among plants. They create a feeling of calm, freshness and fertility. Greens can come in warm yellow-green, cool blue-green and many other variations.

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Whites are very common in nature. Whites exhibit harmony and purity. Whites combine all other colors. Whites look spacious in nature but they can also look stark or gleam.

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Grays and blacks are created by an absence of color. They are created when light rays are absorbed but no color is reflected. Black should be sparsely used to create a glamorous effect. They could look depressing if they are used over large areas.

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We react to different colors in various ways. We react to it in different ways just like taste and smell. The intensity and amount of light that is reflected in a color affects the way our eye reads the color. Shaded areas reflect more hues that are muted while colors will look bolder and concentrated in sunny areas. Therefore, a painted wall will look different depending on its location and other factors. The hues of leaves and flowers will also look different depending on the degree of shade, the location and the time of the day.


Colors that are mixed together are less vibrant while pure hues are more intense. Gray and black are rarely found in nature but they exist more in the form of shadows. A shaded color that has been with black will look nearer while a tinted color that has been with white will be lightened and look airier and farther away. When a color is cast into shade, tones usually occur. The ways colors are perceived can be affected by the quality of light in a garden like in a shady border at twilight or on a bright sunny terrace.

Application of Color  in Garden design

In gardens, we tend to experiment more with colors that when we are in our home. This is because the outdoor environment is less restricted and is brighter. The grays of the sky, blues, neutral greens of the foliage have an effect that is softening in nature on clashing or more strident colors.

Vibrant Colors

Surprise pockets of color that are separated by greenery, bright pinpoints that energize paintings that are quiet all contain bright colors which are used to create a sense of vibrancy. In the flower borders, landscape designers can build up from quieter purples and blues to peaks of oranges and reds. If you combine hot colors with dark bronze, lime green or purple foliage, they will stand out more.

VIBRANT COLORS flowers in landscape design and garden design

Relaxing Colors

Purples, muted-grays and blue-greens of Mediterranean herb gardens can be used to make a quiet atmosphere that is perfect for a retreat. A space can also appear bigger by the plantings that pick up the colors of distant hills. It is not every time that a calming palette has to be muted. It could also include pastels and fresh greens which all work well in most settings.

Relaxing Colors flowers in landscape design and garden design

Neutral Colors

Sandy tones and earthy browns can remind one of the harvest time and they look nurturing and quiet which makes for a relaxed and calm atmosphere. If you want a garden with a country look, you can use weathered wood elements. If you are in an urban area, landscape architects can make you feel close to nature by using raised beds, reclaimed timber and bamboo and wicker for screens. You can also use decking, and sandstone paving for flooring. Pebbles can also be used to create shingle beach effect.

Neutral Colors in landscape design and garden design

Monochrome Colors

Landscape architects can create soft and hard landscaping in a palette of gray, black and white. Green foliage can be added to create an elegant refined style. This is perfect for period gardens with a layout that is formal. For a modern city courtyard, metallic can be combined with silver foliage and white blooms. White flowers and cream can be used to enliven shade and they can be combined with lime-green and variegated leaves.

monochromatic Colors in landscape design and garden design

Textures can be blended into a design. When selecting materials and plants for a garden, one could easily be lured by color but also of great importance are texture and form. The design could look great depending on how well the various textures and shapes are combined on a detailed scale and also on a large scale. The contrasts can be emphasized by visualizing in monochrome the soft and hard landscaping elements that one is considering using and paying great attention to how light can affect various forms.


Various textures can be experienced in a garden as an important part of the enjoyment of a space. By looking at something, one can tell what it is going to feel like. But exploring it will reveal more surprises. Surfaces and certain forms need to be touched to fully appreciate the various forms and the textural contrast. There are different categories by which textures can be classified. Some of these categories relate to how light affects a material while the others relate to how something feels.


To get rough textures, dry stone walls, peeling tree barks, stone chippings, prickly plants and wattle hurdles should be used.


Shiny, mirrored surfaces include stainless steel, evergreens, glazed ceramic, still water, polished granite etc.


Matt surfaces are good for combination with glossy elements. They include sandstone, cut timbers and galvanized metal planters.


They are soft and felted and often pleasant to touch. They include grass-like stems, fluffy seedheads and furry-leaved plants.


Hard surfaces are non-pliable solid surfaces. They could be terrazzo pots, cast metal, concrete and stone walling, flint etc.


Textures can be combined to introduce various textures. They could include shiny with matt, plain with patterned, rough with smooth etc. But the number of materials used shouldn’t be too much else the garden stands the risk of looking too busy.  The contrast between two elements should be highlighted by marking the difference. Horizontal decking should be paired with strong vertical plants. A stainless glittering steel water feature could be paired with matt textured hostas and ferns.

Also read: Garden design inspiration.


Wikipedia Color Wheel