Information About Landscape Design

Information About Landscape Design

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Landscape Design Principles for Residential Gardens

It’s tempting, in a field as subjective as garden design, to feel that rules do not apply. However, after 28 years and hundreds of projects later, I’ve come to believe in certain rules and guidelines that are neither fussy nor constraining. All have proven invaluable to me over my years of garden-making. Applied by any gardener, amateur or professional, they will result in a more successful, satisfying design.

Let’s start with two rules that can kick-start the process of laying out a landscape, then move on to guidelines that help in scaling the proportions of a garden’s elements and, finally, to choosing and using the right plants.


See Yourself in Your Landscape

The design you choose for your landscape will be influenced by how you want to use it and what other benefits you desire. Lawns can be the perfect place for the kids to play or for pets to run around on, but they may need maintenance more often. Shade trees can keep your landscape cool during sunny weather. A landscape with colorful shrubs can provide curb appeal. You may look for a combination – turfgrass for the kids, shrubs to form a border, a rain garden to prevent flooding, and trees for shade.

When planning your landscape design, in addition to primary use, also consider factors such as local climate, sun and shade locations, and the maintenance schedule. This plays a big part in how often your landscape receives rainfall and whether your plants must be prepared for a warm climate or cool climate. Although the plant choice will depend on region, you can still have an attractive, functional landscape with water-efficient plants. If you're designing a new landscape or rethinking your current one, the WaterSense Water Budget Tool can help you plan your landscape for water efficiency and tell you if you have designed a landscape that will use an appropriate amount of water for your climate. The WaterSense What to Plant page can help you find the right plants based on your state.

To create this lush landscape, the owners replaced turfgrass with a granite walkway and native plants, with a focus on drought-tolerant grasses native to the Northeast U.S. Now established, these plants require no water beyond normal rainfall.

This front yard incorporates a rain garden populated with plants native to Michigan, uses stormwater runoff to meet its water needs, and leaves turfgrass space for the kids to run and play. Using a conduit installed in the curb, stormwater is diverted from the street and into the rain garden.

This landscape incorporates shrubs and trees matched to the site’s water conditions, reducing the need for supplemental irrigation. Mulch is used around the garden plants to reduce evaporative water loss from the soil.

This compact, no-turf landscape features edibles, drought-tolerant plants, and a unique patio of permeable crushed rock and cobalt recycled glass aggregate. Drip irrigation efficiently waters the edible plants.

This backyard was designed for entertaining with a series of patios that allow water to permeate into the soil. Native, low-water-using plants retain the slope at the back of the property and fill in between patios. A drip irrigation system with weather sensors and timers minimizes water waste.

This lawn that combines green space perfect for coaching soccer with the surrounding area using low water use shrubs. A walking path with gravel and pervious pavers allows for extra infiltration.

Take a look at our landscapes gallery for other ideas!

Also, as you look at your landscape, consider if a rain garden would be a good fit. Water running off your landscape and roof can become stormwater runoff which can harm local waterways as it picks up pollutants on its path. Rain gardens help to hold water on your landscape, helping you to reduce stormwater runoff and the need for supplemental irrigation. EPA New England’s Soak Up the Rain program has information on rain gardens. The Rain Garden app Exit, developed by the Connecticut NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) program, can teach you how to build a garden and also has information for 23 states on appropriate plants to include in a garden.


Tips & Information about Landscape Design - garden

Search over 160,000 plants. Members can chat with other gardeners in our 144 active forums, identify plants, pets, birds, and butterflies.

Every living thing needs water and there's just so much on Earth to go around. Water waste is not an option any more.

Every living thing needs water and there's just so much on Earth to go around. Water waste is not an option any more.

Watering is a chore that many gardeners hate, even though we all know it's one of the most important things we can do for our plants.

Watering is a chore that many gardeners hate, even though we all know it's one of the most important things we can do for our plants.

In the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man, "I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats me spinach".

In the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man, "I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats me spinach".

Transplant shock can be the death of your plants if you don't know how to properly care for them.

Transplant shock can be the death of your plants if you don't know how to properly care for them.

You supply the caption for our weekly funny image.

You supply the caption for our weekly funny image.


Annuals Supplement Perennial Color

David Burton / Photolibrary / Getty Images

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David Burton / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Perennial flowers are wonderful for your planting beds, but they bloom for only so long. You may have perennials blooming in your bed in May, then nothing until July. Incorporating annuals into a do-it-yourself landscaping plan will "plug the gaps," giving you continuous color in the yard. Try using picture galleries to find ideas for your ​color schemes in landscape design.


Design tips for gardeners

Tips for a great looking garden

Use perennials as backbones, annuals as fillers. Sisters Specialty Gardens uses flowering shrubs and perennials as mainstays in beds and borders, filling in around them with annuals for quick and easy color. A pathway, for example, is accented by flowering shrubs such as Westringia fruticosa ‘Morning Light’ and deep purple butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii). There are also white ‘Iceberg’ roses, penstemons (P. x gloxinioides), and dwarf Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’. Annual nemesias in white, pink, and blue border the path, where they can be easily reached and swapped out. “Annuals bloom for six months and can be replaced at minimal cost,” Gousha explains. Low, mounding chamomile and creeping thymes grow between the nemesias.

Choose easy-care plants wherever possible. For the hot, dry slope pictured, Sisters mixes tough, unthirsty perennials, mostly in purples, pinks, and grays. Among them: Armeria maritima, with globular pink flowers Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, with silvery foliage purple bearded iris lavender (Lavandula dentata, L. x intermedia) pride of Madeira (Echium candicans), with blue-purple flower spikes salvias Santa Barbara daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus), with white, daisylike flowers Santolina chamaecyparissus, with yellow, buttonlike blooms society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), with pale lavender-pink blooms and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Horizontal pathways and rock walls help hold the slope.

Tuck in flowers for cutting. To bring the beauty of the garden indoors, Sisters finds places to add cutting flowers for use in bouquets. Against a trellis beside a driveway in one garden, the women planted sweet peas that bloom from mid-January or early February into May, depending on the weather. “In spring, we harvest often,” Longmire says. “The more you pick and deadhead, the longer the plants produce flowers.” McFadden adds: “A simple jar or white earthenware pitcher is perfect for displaying them.” Sisters starts sweet peas in midfall, sowing seeds about 2 inches apart in well-prepared soil.

Plant seasonal color in pots. To brighten entries and soften hardscapes such as patios and poolsides, the women fill pots and bowls with annuals twice a year: in October for fall through spring color, and in May for summer color.

They combine two or three different types of plants per pot (“Less is more,” Gousha says). Johnny jump-ups, pansies, and violas in shades of purple and violet might fill pots during the cool season. In May, they’re replaced with warm-season bloomers such as white African daisies (Osteospermum Symphony Series), lavender bacopa, pale pink geraniums, hot pink million bells (Calibrachoa hybrids), and blue and white nemesias.

Before planting, Sisters fills pots with four parts potting soil to one part worm castings (available at nurseries). To achieve fullness fast, they pack the pots with plants ― a flat of 4-inch annuals (16 plants total) for a 2-foot-diameter pot, for instance. Plants get water as needed (about once a week in winter, twice weekly in summer) and are fed every two weeks with liquid fertilizer.

Cover bare soil. Nothing makes a planting look unfinished or immature like bare soil around it. Sisters lays lime-colored Scotch moss (Sagina subulata) over the soil beneath potted topiaries or other plants in containers (such as the violas pictured above). A blanket of moss lends a weathered, Old World appeal to pots. Use a knife to cut pieces of moss from nursery flats, trimming them to fit your container. Moss needs regular watering and occasional feeding with liquid fertilizer.


Watch the video: 35 Lovely Small Japanese Garden Design Ideas