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How to design a garden: step-by-step

design a garden

Where do you start when you want to design a garden? If you have bought a house or want to give your garden a comprehensive redesign, you have to make many decisions. With our professional tips you will learn how to best design a garden. 

What matters when designing the garden? In order to avoid the most important mistakes in this topic, make — Thomas Armonat (landscape gardener and landscape architect) makes recommendations on what you should consider when planning and implementing. 

Find more garden guides, tips and advice

1. What to consider when you design a garden

When you design a garden, there are many variables that should be taken into account when planning. In addition to the planned use and the size of the garden, the terrain, the local climate, the soil characteristics and the exposure, i.e. the orientation of the garden and thus the lighting conditions in the different areas also play a role. The subsequent maintenance effort is also determined at the planning stage.

For this, you should consider the properties of the materials used, such as wood, WPC (wood-plastic composites) as a durable replacement for wooden decks (tip: lay WPC terraces), concrete, natural stone and plants.

In turn: First of all, the focus is on how to use the garden. As a retreat to relax, as an outdoor living space with modern lounge design, as a varied play area for children or as a natural biotope for animals and plants. Depending on the size of the property, these uses can of course also be combined well.

Tip: Before you start to design a garden, be sure to set the different areas of use on a sketch with plot and house to scale. Consider practical considerations: A herb garden makes the most sense in the immediate vicinity of the kitchen, the compost should be accessible in wet weather on a paved path and so on.

Also the road relations, so from where to where I want to go and where do I need a well-defined path with flooring, are an important preliminary consideration. Based on this, you can further formulate the design of the areas.

It also depends on the space conditions whether it makes sense to plant larger trees. In the private garden you have to plan ahead. Because over the years and decades, small trees grow during planting to form mighty trees with strong roots (a potential danger for foundations and pipes!) and powerful crowns. What is beautiful on the one hand can later shade the living area, clog the gutters with leaves and have the paving coverings or roof tiles mossed just in the area below the treetop

A question that you should also answer: do I really want a lawn,especially in underused peripheral areas, which has to be mowed weekly in the summer months? Or are low-maintenance beds with groundcover trees the better choice?

The exposure of your garden depends on whether sun-loving species of wood and perennials or shade-compatible plants are in demand there. While fruit and vegetable gardens and most plants with eye-catching flowers prefer rather sunny southern slopes, for shady garden areas there are green plants such as ferns, funkien and laurel cherry.

Our guide will help you with garden planning or you will contact landscape gardeners. Many DIY stores or garden centres also offer comprehensive planning aids and tips online.

2. Creating a garden: DIY or with the help of experts?

If the plans are connected, you have to make a fundamental decision: Do I want to create the garden myself – including all (earth) work – or should experts take over? This has some advantages:In addition to their expertise, landscape gardeners also have the appropriate machines and equipment and organize the delivery of the plants. They are currently standing for the work done and the growth success of the plants within the warranty period.

Those who prefer to take this into their own hands and can save money,of course, now start by determining the quantities of the required materials and plants. And: Which machines, for example, are the earthworks to be used for? Mini excavators, motor wheel bar and much more can be rented from DIY stores and rental services. There is also the right device for laying concrete pavements or natural stone coverings. The best way to get advice is at the rental service!

3. What things should I start doing first?

Start with the rough earthworks,such as digging up or digging up the terrain and creating a pond. After that, the fine modelling takes place for paths, terrace, lawn and planting areas. Now is also the right time to create foundations, for example for fence posts.

Afterwards, you install floorcoverings, such as terrace slabs, pavements for garden paths and bed and path enclosures. Once this “hard scaffolding” is standing, it can be planted and at the very end sow the lawn or lay the rolling turf.

4. What do I have to consider when children use the garden?

In the garden there is a lot of exciting things to discover for children. In the local fruit and vegetable garden, you can playfully get to know plants and fruits, much better than in the supermarket. Toll and play areas with sandy areas as well as play equipment for climbing offer them ideal movement space.

When setting up play equipment, be sure to ensure that they are properly safety-tested products. In addition, the manufacturer’s instructions must be observed when setting up, especially with regard to safety distances and fall protection coverings such as sand or bark mulch or wood chips. This prevents unpleasant surprises while playing. You must provide sufficient distance for hard objects such as posts or concrete pavements. You should not forget to create this when creating a garden: make sure that you have a shading there.

Toxic plants are a very important issue. Some plant species that have very tempting fruits or other ingredients for children can be deadly toxic. For example, these include the seeds in the red fruit bodies of the yit, components of Christ roses, iron hat, silk bast, lily of the tree and many more. If necessary, landscape gardeners or employees of garden centres are competent contact persons here.

As long as the children are still small, water features such as ponds should either be protected with a net or not even be created in the first place. It makes sense to fence in the direction of the driveway or road, so that unattended children cannot put themselves in danger.

5. Creating a garden: limitation and visual protection

In order to provide visual protection, evergreen species are particularly suitable, as they are opaque even during the winter half-year. These include species such as yummy, tree of life, sham cypresses, box and cherry laurel. So-called winter-green species are deciduous trees whose leaves stick to the branches in winter, for example red beech (Fagus) and liguster in the variety ‘Atrovirens’.

If you have little space: A sturdy lattice fence can be covered with evergreen ivy as a visual protection. As an alternative to hedges, there are a number of other plants with which you can achieve transparent or complete visual protection.

6. Designing a garden: how to become individual and creative

What is so attractive about a garden: It is never “finished”. The plants continue to grow, due to changing weather and over the seasons it is subject to constant change. In addition, it offers countless possibilities to get creative: wooden, concrete or stone beds, high beds, garden foliage,pergolas and scaffolding, treadstones, sight protectors made of wood or bamboo, pavements made of colored gravel or glass,water features on the pond, lighting,torches, candles, garden kitchen, barbecue station… There is nothing that cannot be creatively upgraded!

Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing and construction.

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