Garden design is not just the ability to create a beautifully illustrated plan, although this is one of the many outputs of the garden design process and arguably the most exciting. A garden designer’s role is to find creative, practical solutions to the many technical challenges presented by an outdoor space. A good garden designer can make a garden that is useable and suitable for a specific set of requirements as well as being beautiful and a pleasure to spend time in.
It would not be possible to describe fully how to design a garden in a single article. A great deal of training and experience is required to understand how to obtain the correct ratio of mass to void in a garden design scheme, or how to create rhythm in a garden design, or working with shapes to ensure the garden flows and feels comfortable to use. So, the following paragraphs outline major steps in the garden design process and I will go into more detail about each phase in separate articles.
1. Decide on the requirements for the garden
Before considering aesthetics it is necessary to understand the practical requirements for the garden such as how it will be used, by whom and who will look after it. Answering a series of questions is the best way to arrive at the requirements. These are the kind of questions that need to be answered to arrive at the requirements:-
• How much time is available to look after the garden?
• Will a professional maintenance company/garden be looking after the garden?
• Will the garden be used by pets or children?
• Does the garden need to cater for elderly or disabled visitors?
• Will the garden need to cater for users with mobility problems?
• Will the garden be used for eating and entertaining?
• How many people will want to use the garden at one time?
• Is the garden owned by a keen, knowledgeable gardener?
The aim is to arrive at a list of requirements which forms the basis of the design process.
2. Get inspired
Experienced garden designers know the value of regularly looking at all forms of art and architecture in order to keep their ‘visual vocabulary’ up to date and get inspiration for their designs. Inspiration can come from a shape in nature like an old, gnarled tree, an architectural detail on a building, a combination of shapes and colours in a painting, almost anywhere if you are looking with a creative eye.