Just like the look of your home, your garden is a reflection of your lifestyle. Those with children have to think of safety and space to play, while those who don’t care much for gardening will likely have lots of low maintenance shrubs and lawn. Conversely, those who hate mowing their lawn may have huge flower beds! Ornaments, furniture, planters and other accessories complete the look of a personal “garden room.”
One good tool to have in your garden are water butts. These are perfect tools to maintain your garden. You are assured to have your plants watered even during dry season if you have water butts that can store huge volumes of water. A well-maintained garden looks beautiful and very attractive. Aside from keeping your garden well maintained, it’s also important to have the right garden furniture that will complement the layout of your garden. Below, you can read tips and techniques on how to plan the design and layout of your garden.
Planning Your Garden – Sun and Shade
If you have a bare expanse of lawn or field, or wish to begin beautifying your front or backyard, the first thing you have to take note of is sunlight. Plants needing lots of sun certainly won’t thrive well if they are shaded most of the day! With a pen and paper in hand, draw a general map of your garden. Then, on a weekend or day where you aren’t doing anything, note where the sun hits. Start at sunrise, with coffee or tea in hand, and smell the fresh air while you get to work. Note where the morning sunlight strikes around your home, and write down the time on your map. Since the sun rises in the east, the western side of your yard will receive sunlight first. Northern sides will generally receive the least amount of light (if you are in the northern hemisphere), because the sun in the summer afternoons will usually be slightly south in the sky, depending on where you are. Your home will thus cast a shadow on this part of your yard.
If the area you noted goes into shadow by mid-morning, it would be a great area for your shade plants. Sunlight in the morning is weak, so shade plants won’t burn as readily. At lunch, go outside again and note which areas are in full sun and which are creeping into shade. Do this again at 3 PM, and you’ll quickly know which areas of your yard receive the most sunlight. A vegetable garden does best in full sun, such as tomatoes. Other vegetables need partial shade, so either plant them in a shadier area or, what I do is plant taller vegetables around them to filter out some of the hot afternoon light.
Visual Impact and Maintenance
You will be veiwing your garden every day, so plan ahead. The best way to do this is look out of every window in your house and imagine what you wish to see. Shrubs, trees, flowers or lawn? What do you not want to see? What do you want your neighbors to see? Think of the walkway leading up to your house, small shrubs near your door (not large, as this could be a security concern due to easily concealment), and lighted areas using solar power landscape lights.
Think of the time it will take to maintain your new garden. Most people love the English cottage garden look, complete with meandering walkways and rich, bushy plants. However, you may be devoting an hour or two a day to pruning, watering and weeding. For many, this in itself is a relaxing way to de-stressify your day, so I myself don’t mind it. For others, they just want pretty bushes to look at while reading a book on a hammock. The idea is to enjoy your garden and yard as a personal oasis, not a further burden of work in your hectic life.
Your Personal Touch
Once you have your garden started, it’s time to gradually add some personal touches to add character. If you look at your garden and see nothing but chaos, a simple solution is to create a single strong focal point. A sculpture, sundial or birdbath unifies your garden by being a central visual point in your garden. These objects can also brighten an otherwise dull spot.
What would you like to see in your garden? Lots of songbirds? Butterflies? Hummingbirds? Research what species are common in your area and add plants and items to attact these creatures. Monarch butterflies have a migratory path from Canada to Mexico, so if you live within that path, make your garden a rest area or even hatching area for them with the proper plants. Remember, avoid chemical pesticides and herbicides, as these often harm beneficial insects and birds (not to mention your pets and children.) There are many organic and home-made methods to help combat pests and diseases, as I list in my organic gardening book.
Use various pots or ornaments to contrast with other plants in your garden. An old-fashioned wheel-barrow, a half-buried barrel or an old chair with the center cut out and planted with flowers are some neat suggestions. Try to place them to look like they were always there. If using planters, arrange in odd numbers, such as three or five.
Add a few features every season to give your garden a new look. A garden trellis, decorative rocks or a new fountain give great character to any garden. A classical statue looks great against a background that is mainly dark green. Setting a small statue at the end of a pathway is another idea. If you have a favorite quiet, romantic corner, add some functional but decorative furniture such as a wicker seat or stone bench.
Water gardens are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason! The gentle bubbling and splashing of a stream creates great natural ambience to your yard, and makes it feel a lot larger and more private. If you have a large yard, place it a certain distance away, with a weaving path leading to it. This will give you an even greater sense of a “personal oasis.” In you have a small yard, place it next to your patio or bedroom window so you can listen to it while relaxing.
Wherever you decide to place it, make sure it is in a shady area of your garden. Pond plants need a certain amount of shade, and if you will be adding goldfish, they need lily pads to shield them from strong sun. Frogs, of course, will love you for your little wetland, and will happily eat bugs like mosquitoes!
Do a lot of research before building your water garden, for they do need special maintenance, such as pumps and filters to keep the water fresh and healthy.
Remember, planning your garden is a continual process, limited only by your imagination. Start with small projects and think of new ideas every season. By practicing organic methods such as composting and natural soil renewal, your garden will always be fresh and healthy, and you will have a safe, special retreat outside your door for life!