10 steps to a beautiful garden
Have you ever painted a picture from scratch? You had to have a plan before starting. The same is true of planning and planting a garden. By planning, you should gain satisfaction when relaxing or entertaining in your garden.
You will gain great satisfaction in designing your garden plans before you begin. The time and effort you put into planning and executing the design that is totally you will add to the enjoyment of your garden for many years.
Where do you begin? Here are ten steps that should help with the process. This outline will work with either a flower or vegetable garden. Good luck and I promise it will be well worth your efforts.
1. An important question is why do you want a garden?
Will this be a flower or vegetable garden? If a flower garden, will you also plant vegetables within the garden space? Who else might enjoy the garden? If there are others in your home, ask their opinion of how the outdoor space should be used.
Once you have determined your why you want a garden and how it will be used, let your imagination run wild. What features do you want? A birdbath? A bench or pergola? Drip irrigation for ease of watering?
If you decide on a flower garden, will it be formal or informal? What features will you place in the garden? Water fountain, bird bath, statuary, yard art, etc.?
3. What are your must-have for the garden?
What is essential to your garden? List them, so you don’t forget anything. Do you want a privacy fence or hedge? How about a retaining wall if on a slope? Will you need a path to or in the garden? Think about your children and pets,
What is essential to keep in your yard? Doghouse, sandbox, existing fountain, trees (think about the sun).
4. Inventory what you already have.
To begin with, where will you place your garden in your yard? Will it be large or small? Is it flat or sloping? How about sunlight? Soil type? Availability of water. If a flower garden, what about the view of the garden and from the garden?
5. Budgeting for the garden.
After you determine your wants and needs, then it’s time to estimate your cost of money and time. Once you calculate your estimated cost, then you determine which features you will place in your final plans; plants, fountains, ponds, benches, etc.
Remember gardens require time and money. Will you be able to give time to maintain the garden on an ongoing basis? How much time can you and will you send to the garden? Will you be able to afford a caretaker to look after the garden?
6. Focal point/points in your garden.
In floral gardens, you will want to have an eye-catching focal point that will capture your visitor’s attention for a moment. What do you want your visitors to see first? Did you include a beautiful water feature? An arbor for a shady retreat? A blossoming tree or red maple?
7. Now it’s time to draw up your design.
Gather all the information you have collected so far. This will include all your wants and must have items. Remember, you want to create a space that is both satisfying and functional. THIS IS YOUR RETREAT.
First, begin with your property lines and where the house sits on the lot. I use graph paper to sketch out the space by the foot. No matter if you only have space for 10 foot or a 100-foot garden, you need a diagram for either a vegetable or floral garden.
Things you’ll need: a tape measure, ruler, pencil and good eraser. You might also want tracing paper to use on top of your rough draft. Use your list of must-haves and wants when drawing your plans to scale. Show the approximate position of the wants and must-haves to see if they will fit. At this point you can make as many scaled drawings, placing your wants and must have features in different places. I would make several drawings as you might combine two drawing later.
8. Now is the time to begin selecting plants and features. (floral garden)
Here, the material and color you use will produce the atmosphere of your floral garden. It can add movement and clear appeal to your garden. What do you want, bright and bold colors with strong contrast? Or do you want warm or cool colors with soft hues?
Although plants comprise a large part of a garden, hardscape features add to the texture of any garden – a wood arbor, brick borders and paths, statuary and benches.
As you complete your layout, consider what material best suits your hardscape features. Each element needs to compliment the whole. Example, if you wish to create a terrace constructed of the same material as the house joins the two. On the other hand, railroad ties in or around the garden create a chaotic feeling, and they will eventually decay and take away from the natural beauty of your garden.
9. Now, let’s make a scale drawing.
In step 7 we created a rough draft of the garden and focal points. Now is the time to take your list of trees, plants, and shrubs and place each exactly where the feature will go on the scale drawing. This drawing will serve as your blueprint to place the walkways, arbors, water features. It will also contain your placement of plants, shrubs, and trees.
Remember, it is important to have sufficient information to help create the best possible garden designed on paper. If your scale drawing is sufficiently scaled, you should be successful.
10. Final Important Step: Execute this plan.
Check with your city government about local building code requirements. You want to ensure you comply with all local ordinances before you dig the first hole. Some features such as decks, patios and retaining walls may require a permit. Once any required permits are in place, you are ready to begin.
If all of this seems a bit scary, don’t panic. Just follow these directions, step by step and let the garden unfold. You can make this happen, and you will be a successful gardener.