Designing a garden is not an exact science. Plants may not thrive in a particular spot even though you select the right soil conditions, the right position regarding sunlight and feed them with the advised plant food.
Nevertheless, forward planning will produce consistently better results than adopting a haphazard approach. Sitting down with a pencil and paper and giving a little thought to the job in hand should eradicate any major mistakes. Placing a patio in a shaded area, building a parking space too small for a car, or even erecting a boundary wall that does not meet local council rules and regulations can all prove to be costly mistakes. Pre-planning will avoid them.
It is the permanent features of a garden that should be considered first, but bear in mind how they will fit into the planted and turfed areas of the garden; no-one wants to live in a concrete jungle!
Before you even put pen to paper try and get a feel for the sort of garden required and consider whether it will sit happily with the house and its surroundings. Is it to be formal, laid out in straight lines or maybe geometric? Maybe a more relaxed style such as a cottage garden appeals. Whatever takes your fancy there is no shortage of material from which to draw inspiration. Countless books and magazines are devoted to garden design and now there is also the internet to access for ideas.
Be sure to measure the plot of land as accurately as possible especially the diagonals, because what appears to be a square or rectangular may well taper to one end or do something equally as unexpected. Make a note of how the ground slopes, paying attention to the direction and length of the slope. Check how the passage of the sun affects the garden and the direction of the prevailing wind. Don’t forget the angle of the sun will be steeper in summer and that trees planted as a windbreak, will be redundant if they shed their leaves.
Test the soil for condition but remember this can be easily altered by the use of fertilizers and chemicals. Plot the position of features you want to keep in the garden such as existing footpaths, lawned areas and established trees.
When you are happy with your design try it out. Will it be possible say, for two people to pass on the path without stepping into the flower beds? Try placing furniture on the area marked out for the patio to ensure you can sit comfortably and eat a meal with guests. Most people build a patio alongside the house but if you have to place it elsewhere because of the position of the sun will it become a chore to walk back and forth with drinks.
It is always wise to inform your neighbours of your intentions, a wall or trees you intend planting may cause an inconvenience to them that you haven’t thought about. A quick alteration of the plan can avoid years of stress caused by neighbourly disputes.
By the time your garden comes to fruition, there may well be a considerable amount of valuable plants and furniture out there. Remember to cost this into your household insurance policy.