The Best Advice I Ever Received When it Comes to Garden Design

Notes From The Garden Path

The Team @ Grand Garden Life


Creating a stunning and well-designed garden is a dream for many homeowners. Whether you have a sprawling estate or a large backyard, planning and designing a garden can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavour.

About 20 years ago, I was given a weekend garden design course as a birthday gift.  I gained so much from this course, but the one long-lasting piece of advice I took away was this:

Make a plan of your garden now. This minute.  Map it out, whether it is currently a blank canvas or an established plot.  Grab a large piece of paper and draw it out so the proportions are correct.  You can always use one of your walking strides as equal to a centimetre (or ¼”) on your plan.  It’s just important that the proportions are there, not complete accuracy of measurements. 

Trusted Template

Now you have your trusted template.  This is where you are going to plan out your future garden.  This is where you add all those things you want.   And the sole purpose of this is to give you direction.

If you do not have this plan, you end up with what experienced designers call ‘a collection of weekend jobs’ rather than a cohesive plan.  You’ve all seen those gardens…there’s a bit of decking over there, then a pond over there, then an alpine garden somewhere else.  There’s no co-ordination, no overall long-term vision.

You know what I like about it, every bit of effort you put in is working towards an overall look and plan.  Whether it’s a restriction on your time or budget (or a combination of both), it still means that every bit of time and money is working towards something.    Then each weekend, there are no little stand-alone projects, but simply a step towards the end goal.

It also means that when you go plant shopping, or you are asked for a birthday or Christmas list, you always have in mind ‘what’s next for the garden’.  So you can ask for a hydrangea or a buddleia or a large pot, knowing that it all fits in and people will love that they have bought you something meaningful.

Plus, for those lucky enough to have a gardener this overall plan can be shared.  Then when 'gardener day' comes around again, you have a clear list of things you want accomplished, all working towards that end vision.

My Advice

So, my advice for your sanity and your wallet, is to start a plan now.  Start with what you have got now.   Then add your vision for what you would like to achieve.  It doesn’t matter if this gets a tweak as you go along.  Just start with the basics…where do you want to sit, where do you want the children/grandchildren to play, where do you want to grow vegetables, where is that stunning greenhouse you have promised yourself going to go.   Put it all on there.    Then each path you make, each new bed you dig, each flowerpot you buy will be working towards your ideal garden.

I have been in my current garden for 11 years and when those photos pop-up on my phone from years past, I can’t quite believe how far I have come.  And all of that is from an initial, rather basic plan I made.   So, make this your job for weekend and good luck with that dream garden!


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