Garden Design Tips: How To Design Your Garden Like A Pro

Garden Design Tips: How To Design Your Garden Like A Pro

13 minute read

Garden Design is about more than just making a yard beautiful. After all, a well-cared-for garden can make even a bare yard look appealing. Garden design is about transforming your yard into a beautiful retreat while minimizing the impact human activities have on the plants and the environment in your yard. While adding a few potted plants significantly helps improve the look of your yard, the true value of garden design lies beyond aesthetic improvements. If you want to know more about maximizing your garden, here are garden design tips you can create for your garden.

The Importance of Garden Design

  • Prevent Erosion on Your Property

Erosion is a risk in every yard. As wind and rain move across your property, the soil can shift away from the plants and garden beds. In steep areas, rocks can become dislodged, posing a risk to your family’s safety. A good garden design plan will work to prevent erosion, especially in steep areas, with the use of retaining walls. These retaining walls can be both attractive and functional, keeping the soil where it belongs, while also providing a nice framework for plants and sculptures.

  • Break Up Large Spaces into Inviting Nooks

When you have a large property, it can be difficult to create private areas where your neighbors cannot see in. The garden design makes it possible to break up even a large yard into secluded, yet inviting, areas.

The right design can create an outdoor living room framed by trees or shrubs to block out the noise of the neighborhood and foster a feeling of being out in nature. The design will take into consideration how you plan to use the space and create the perfect environment and backdrop for your needs. The options are only limited by your imagination.

  • Prevent Flooding in Your Yard

Without a solid landscaping plan, your yard may turn into a mud pit when the rains come in the spring and fall. If your yard floods, it can damage the plants and existing garden design in your yard while also making the space unusable. The right design will direct stormwater and runoff to a designated drainage area while also diverting the water away from your plants.

Should your existing design be damaged by a storm, Architectural Garden Design can help restore its appearance and make any necessary modifications to prevent flooding in the future.

  • Reduce Air Pollutants

The garden design allows you to embrace nature in a manicured and predictable way, but the plants themselves have other benefits. Adding rich amounts of foliage may improve the air quality around your home. Plants absorb harmful pollutants and chemicals, purifying the air without the use of electricity or machinery. Garden designs can be as feature-rich as you wish, but the more plants you have, the more pollutants they will absorb.

  • Propagate Local Ecosystems

Garden designs do not have to be high maintenance. Many plans utilize local plants and grasses to create a beautiful environment that will thrive from season to season. When a design uses plants that are native to the area, the landscaping will be better equipped to handle the average seasonal changes without extra care and attention from you or the landscaping crew. Soil, average rainfall, and changes in temperatures can all pose a challenge to non-native plants, but varieties native to Minnesota receive all the nutrients they need from the local topsoil without additional chemical fertilizer. Furthermore, when the design mimics the natural environment, birds, squirrels, and other small critters are tempted to make a home there.

  • Treat Your Space as an Ecosystem 

Your garden is more than just a place to retreat at the end of a long and hectic day; it’s an ecosystem in and of itself. The changing slope of the land shaded areas, and sunny spots all have different needs that must be evaluated before they can be accommodated. A proper garden design will consider these factors and treat your yard as an ecosystem, placing the right plants in the right spot. The result is a design that plans for drainage, erosion, and sustainable plant life.

  • Treat Your Space as an Ecosystem 

When you are planting a flower bed yourself, you may add flowers and plants that are not well-suited to the conditions in Minnesota. To counteract the effects of weather conditions, soil type, and humidity, you may need to add fertilizer to the soil. Most commercially available fertilizers are made of chemicals that damage the environment, although they help your tropical flowers flourish in the summer months.

When rain falls, the fertilizer left in the soil makes its way into the water supply, posing a risk to local wildlife and native plants. The garden design takes sustainability into account with every project. While those favored tropical plants may be used in one area of the design, they will not be used everywhere. Limiting the use of exotic or non-native plants reduces the impact the landscaping has on the environment.

Garden Design Tips

These garden design tips are key to creating a scheme you will love for years to come. Whether you are looking for garden landscaping ideas to overhaul your outdoor space, or more tailored garden design inspiration such as garden furniture, paving, lights, plants, borders, decking, and more, here are some fabulous garden tips to help you transform your back garden, whether it is big or small – and it will help to boost your property value, too.

But before you proceed with any redesigns or updates, take a look at your garden as a whole. You need to find out as much as you can about the garden's position, direction and outlook. Not only will this affect planting, but it can also dictate how you use your space.

Whether it is a small garden, long and narrow garden, cottage garden, or courtyard garden, you should observe where and at what times of day different parts of the garden get light and sun. Think about access and what you want to use your garden for – planting and growing veg, sunbathing, eating alfresco, or simply sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea on a sunny morning?

Answer these questions and you will have a clear idea of exactly how you want your garden to work for you. We hope these garden design tips will give you some inspiration!

  • Get Your Lawn into Shape

Look out of your window at your garden and the biggest shape you'll probably see is your lawn. If it is a good, strong shape, it will set the entire garden on the right track. And remember, it does not have to be a rectangle – try an oval, circle, square or oblong shape.

You will also need the right tools to complete the job. Trends show that there is a rise in searches for nifty robotic lawn mowers for up to 126% and ride-on mowers for up to182% since the pandemic.

Garden design tips

For ongoing lawn care and maintenance, gardening experts advise you to consider the three tenets of sunshine, showers, and soil aeration. Cut branches back to keep excessive shade away. Water once a week early in the morning. For aeration, take a fork to your lawn and poke heaps of holes. Do all of these and your lawn will be verdant before you know it. And do not mow it too short.

  • Plan your Planting

The best garden designs start with structural plants infilled with pretty, flowering plants. So, use evergreen shrubs at the end of each border and for punctuation along the way. Include small shrubs such as box balls, or large evergreens, for example, mahonia, for bigger areas.

Once you have this frame, fill the gaps with pretty flowering plants. Try to stick to just five or six different types and arrange them in repeated patterns for a coordinated and harmonious effect. A meter or more in-depth is a perfect size for a border, giving you enough space to put smaller plants at the front with taller ones behind.

Remember, narrow, low-planted beds can define seating or dining areas, as can lines of planted-up troughs – choose evergreen scented plants, such as lavender or Mexican orange blossom. Containers offer the most flexibility though, allowing you to move them around however suits. Creeping rosemary is a great plant for edging in containers, as it trails rather than growing upright, is evergreen, and is covered in blue flowers in spring.

If you do not have room for meter-deep beds, you could place climbers at the back of the border so you can still get height in the planting. In terms of climbing plants, opt for an evergreen-like clematis, which provides a beautiful and colorful display. When you're choosing flowering plants, try to make some of the 'out of season' performers so you have some year-round color, or put in spring and early summer bulbs to get the garden off to a great start.

  • Trees

Mature trees can be a starting point for building a scheme. They block the glare of the sun and can also be used as an anchor for shade sails, a hammock, pendant lights, or hanging decorations.

Trees can also screen an unattractive view or help to filter noise and air pollution if you live near a busy road. And they benefit nature significantly, providing pollen for insects and shelter for birds, and converting airborne carbon dioxide into oxygen.

A growing trend is multi-stem trees – planting these can create an architectural showpiece, with the elegant canopies lending themselves to layered underplanting or, if planted exclusively, creating a striking structural statement.

  • Beautiful Paving

The color and style of your paving and the way it is laid can provide a strong design direction for the entire garden. For instance, grey or white stone laid in a random pattern will set the scene for a French country look; black or silver paving organized in a regular design will form the perfect backdrop to a sleek and modern scheme; while golden stone arranged in a mixed pattern creates an English country feel.

If you want to create the garden of your dreams, attention to detail is everything. Create a beautiful scheme by coordinating your plants with your choice of paving. For example:

  1. Grey or white stone looks great with purple and white blooms

  2. Black and silver paving looks amazing with strong colors such as red, orange, and yellow

  3. Golden paving works with flowers that have soft tones – pink, lavender, and chalky yellow.

  • Distinct Levels

Is your garden on different levels? If you do not like the idea of incorporating stone steps, you can achieve a seamless look with your existing lawn, for example, by enabling the flow from one space to the next.

Looking for decking ideas? If you have an uneven or sloping garden, decking is an ideal and cost-effective option for leveling it out. Decking can also have split levels and include steps, making it the ideal space for dining furniture, and due to its use, a decked garden area typically needs to withstand heavy foot traffic.

  • The Furniture

For smaller courtyards and patios, go for folding furniture, or bench seating that can be tucked under a dining table when not in use. L-shaped sofas can be surprisingly compact, while larger spaces can take full-on seating sets, with matching chairs, sofas and tables, sun loungers and day beds, or on-trend hanging egg chairs or swing seats.

Invest in a good garden furniture set that will last for years to come. Consider the space and allow enough room for each person to be able to sit comfortably and pull out their chair without bumping into anything. And remember, you will also need room to walk around the table with every one seated. It takes up much more space than you might think!

And let us not forget other garden must-haves, including fire pits and chimineas, patio heaters, barbecues, and pizza ovens – planning space for these is key, as is where they will be stored or protected once it is winter.

  • Pay Attention to Your Boundaries

In a small garden, boundary walls, fences, or hedges may be the biggest element in view, so they need to look good. They do not have to all be the same but try to provide visual links between them. You could have the same type of fence, for instance, and grow climbers up them in coordinating colors. If you are not able to change the fences, whitewash them or clad them with battens or trellis. Check with your neighbors first to establish whose fence it is and ask permission before doing any work.

The materials you choose are key, too. For example, timber posts don't have to be confined to fencing a garden off from the neighbors. Carefully positioned within a garden, they can be used to frame plants or seating areas and add extra interest to borders or paths.

  • Screening and Zoning

You should also think about screening areas of your garden to create separate 'rooms'. Introduce hard landscaping in the form of pergolas or fences, or through plants. If space is limited, consider zoning areas of your garden, although this is a good idea for every garden shape and size.

  • Accessorize the Fifth Room

Think about how you can turn your outdoor space into a relaxing sanctuary with cozy garden decor and tactile furnishings. Essentially you want to create a living room look, it is just outdoors rather than inside, so bear this in mind when on the hunt for decor and accessories.

For example, you could invest in an outdoor rug along with chunky knit throws, lanterns, and outdoor cushions for an inviting and snug feel. Reflect light around your chosen spot with a garden mirror; invest in a waterproof speaker; choose citronella candles to keep bugs at bay; keep warm in the evenings with a patio heater, and last but certainly not least, dot smaller potted plants around the space, much as you would with houseplants.

  • Integrate your Ornaments

The most important rule with garden ornaments is to nestle them in with the planting. Choose wisely as an ornament or water feature (although it's great wildlife) that's plonked in the center of space is unlikely to look good. If it's too small it will look lost and something too big will overwhelm the space; the latter has also been known to devalue your home, so it's something to bear in mind when it's time to sell.

If you like the idea of hearing the trickle of running water in your garden but don’t want a fountain, try a simple stone trough and waterspout. 

  • Install a Garden Room

A garden room is a great way to maximize and extend your space whether you want a home office or a yoga studio, and planning permission is not usually required. Whether it's a large shed or summerhouse, it can be the perfect space for entertaining guests over summer and can even be used as additional accommodation for guests. Think about ways to make your garden more than just an outdoor area to eat, drink and soak up the sunshine.


Hopefully, the garden design tips mentioned above will help you transform your garden space into the garden of your dreams. But before designing your garden, you need to think and strategize how to fully maximize your garden so you can get the best out of your garden.

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