How to design your new garden


No matter what size you have to work with, it can be both exciting and daunting to look out on a garden space you want to design. Even if you’re a seasoned gardener, you might not know all the various considerations that need juggling to achieve your vision for the space as a whole.

Like many homeowners, you might take as much pride in it as your interior – after all, it’s a place you’ll spend lots of time in, not just during the summer. So here are our tips and advice to make sure it’s a place you’re proud of and happy to while away the hours in.

How to start designing a garden

A key starting point is to decide whether you want a more modern or traditional garden. This’ll dictate the whole design. If you’re unsure, consider the decor you have inside your home and your property’s exterior, so there’s harmony between inside and outside. Blending into a hybrid can help you find a more distinctive, unique style that captures your personality, but can lead to a confused garden identity if it’s not purposeful.

Then there’s the actual garden itself. You might be in control of the design, but it’s important to work and be efficient with the space available. Look to complement its shape, whether long and narrow or more evenly square. A patio’s border, for example, can either mirror your garden’s straight or curved lines for consistency or contrast them for balance. Factor in garden necessities such as washing lines, so they don’t awkwardly break up the space or present you with something to integrate and mess up your plan down the line.

Another important decision to make is your lawn to patio ratio. A keen gardener might opt for a majority of grass and planting space, while others might prefer less maintenance. Playing with the proportion of your different garden elements, such as following a simple rule of thirds, can create balance or the visual interest of deliberate asymmetry. Thinking about how much furniture you’d like or want will also help determine the patio size and how much stone you’ll need. Where possible, it’s good practice to allow breathing room between the furniture and the edges of the patio, so the area feels spacious and not too busy.

A thoroughly well-designed garden shapes the vertical space, too. Walls, steps and raised planting beds help break it up and guide the eye. They’re not just practically useful for gardens that aren’t flat and therefore need to be tiered, but offer further opportunities to sculpt and personalise your space.

How to create spaces and areas in a garden

Once you’ve gauged your basic garden layout, you can build on this foundation.

Always keep in mind what you want to use your garden for. Would you like to do a lot of hosting? If so, you’ll want a terrace for events like bonfires and fireworks or barbecues and summer gatherings. Other uses might include a vegetable patch, children’s play area or outdoor kitchen.

Most gardens aren’t complete without a form of seating area. Identify the optimal places in terms of lighting – whether you’d prefer shade or full light – and what you want to be looking at. You may want to offer clusters of seating to offer options and variety: some nearer the house, others deeper into the garden. Stone is beneficial for this, too, as you don’t have to worry about regularly moving your garden furniture to prevent killing lawn. It also offers a range of colours to nicely match your furniture’s material and the tones of your foliage. 

It helps to choose a centrepiece or focal point that gives structure to the rest of the garden, such as a statue, ornament or water feature. These, along with bird baths and houses, are typically better placed on a level slab of stone rather than uneven soil or turf.

As well as guiding navigation and protecting any lawn, paths help tidily section off garden areas. Stone paths can offer both contemporary and traditional aesthetics, as well as better grip than loose soil or turf, while steps and risers help move along your garden’s gradient. Similarly, rockery stone can make a slope down to a lower level more attractive and gives your garden more character than just turf and soil.

With stone playing such an important part in your design, don’t compromise on the quality. While greenery will change throughout the year, a high-quality stone will last a lifetime and beyond, so it truly is an investment in something you’ll love looking at for years to come. Take a look at our guide to get you started: Choosing the right stone for your garden.


Photo credit: Sue Townsend Garden Designer

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