Garden Landscape Design

In the last blog, I started to look forward to Spring and how our gardens could all do with a bit of pre-Spring tidy up, ready for the bloom of Summer time.  However, many of you may be thinking a bit more grand scale and are planning a garden makeover! It looks like our gardens are going to be more important than ever this year as a place to socialise as well as to relax in, so a garden to be proud of is a must have in 2021.

If you have plans to landscape you garden, the time is now.  It’s best to get work done in the garden while your existing plants are dormant over winter so as we move into spring, it would be worthwhile getting as much of the hard landscaping set out as soon as possible.

Assess What You Already Have in Your Garden

First things first, assess what you have.  Be it a small courtyard or a large, sprawling garden, have a think about what you want out of it and what you need in it.  Are you looking for a play area for the kids? Or a social, entertainment space?  Or just a place to be at one with nature? Whatever is your priority will drive the design of you garden. Assess the state of the garden as it is.  The ground may be sloping and need levelling or there may be a drainage issue.  Ensure your plans allow to rectify these with levelling or terracing, carefully considering the hard landscaping or adding drains. 

Create a plan of your garden, noting all the important elements and sketch a design around the existing layout.  Does it give you everything that you need?  Does your garden need a focal point?  This could be an existing feature like a well established tree or maybe a new one.  A pond creates a great focal point as well as providing new sounds and, hopefully, wildlife to your garden.

There may be some awkwardly placed trees that may need removing or designing around.  Make note of any trees, shrubs or structures that you want to keep. 

Assess your soil and it’s coverage. Will you need extra top soil? What kind of soil do you have?  Knowing it’s PH will help you choose which plants will flourish and which might struggle.

Take Account of the Aspect of Your Garden

Make note of which way your garden faces and design around it.  If you have an east facing garden, perhaps a seating area for a morning coffee, an evening chill out zone in a west facing garden, or a full on south facing garden might need some shade from a pergola or clever planting.

A change in level in a small garden can give the impression of space.

Create Different Zones in Your Garden

A garden often needs to be many things to many people.  Even in a small garden, zoning can help define the area for certain needs, giving structure to your design.  Be it an outside kitchen, living area, vegetable patch or play area, careful consideration of the areas in your garden is worthwhile.

Consider using different hard landscaping for different areas.  For instance, your dining area could be timber decking, an evening lounge area in a late-in-the-day sunny spot could be a stone patio and the kids play are could be bark or grass. 

Use different colours on fencing or walls to create separate zones. White is a good backdrop for social day areas where you want to feel bright and sunny, and darker shades can make the evening spaces more welcoming and cosy.  You can use planting to create the same affect, zoning the same coloured flowers together or matching foliage to create blocks of colour.

Clever lighting can create the perfect evening retreat in your garden.

Don’t Forget About the Vertical Space

Create interest in your garden with vertical vistas as well as horizontal.  Trellis with flowering climbers can provide visual interest or a pergola or even a living wall.

Consider Types and Location of Planting

Plan for planting at different levels.  Ground level planting, raised beds created from railway sleepers and higher level beds created with block and render walls can all create different zones and levels for your planting. Plants can help create a specific feel for your garden.  Architectural, sculptural plants can create a modern feel, while loads of soft planting with plenty of flowers can create the perfect country style garden.

Consider Types of Hard Landscaping

Hard landscaping is an integral part to the landscaping of your garden and be used to great effect.  Stick to a maximum of four different materials in your garden to ensure that you don’t over complicate the look while still providing interest.

To link your inside space to your outside space, chose the similar materials to allow the eye to follow from inside to out seamlessly.
Gravel and limestone sets can create a winding pathway through your garden.

Here are some different hard landscaping you could use in your design.


There are lots of options for a patio in both finish and colour.  For a more traditional look try brick or York stone. 


Decking can be a good choice if your floors indoors are wood. With some maintenance, timber decking can be durable and stable and deal well with heavy footfall.


Gravel is an affordable, versatile material that can create a traditional or modern look depending on how it is used.


Concrete gives a great contemporary finish and can complement internal finishes creating that outside/in feel.

For some fabulous ideas for designing your garden and to get an idea of the trends for 2021, check out this article

Have fun creating your dream garden, whatever that is for you.  And I hope you have even more fun spending time in it!

Posted on March 12th 2021

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