Design your Garden: garden design advice for beginners

Garden Design for Beginners – how do you even begin!

Creating your very own garden might seem quite daunting, especially if you are not a particularly experienced gardener. I have written a whole series of articles, so even the most inexperienced beginner create a garden design.

So what’s your next move….and how do you start, where to begin?


best garden design book - I Want to Like my Garden by Rachel McCartain

Step 1 – Patience; do absolutely nothing:

You need to see how you are going to use your garden before you do anything. So barring a trim or mowing the grass, just start to use the garden.

There will be a place you always put your chair to sit outside and it may not be where any existing patio is. Some plants will always look good and some will always be a just always cause issues. When mowing the lawn, where does the grass grows well. Which parts are awkward to mow & where doesn’t the grass never grow well.

Plants also pop up at different times of the year, so does the garden have later flowering plants? There may also be some unwanted surprises, awful flower combinations and weeds you never thought you had.

Visit our shop for loads of great ideas for your garden borders. We really do make gardening easier! 🙂

Once you have seen what happens over a few months, then begin to decide how the new design should take shape. Patience really is the starting point to getting the garden right for you.


Step 2 – Problem Solving:

Gardens like humans aren’t and can never be perfect and your new garden is going to be no different. You need to know what annoying habits the garden has and solve these first.

So what sorts of problems are we talking about, well there are those you can do something about and those you are stuck with – so you need to consider them in your design.

  • Solvable problems could include, drainage or waterlogging, weeds that keep reappearing, plants that require cutting back ALL the time, lack of light, thorny bushes right by the garden gate or nowhere to hide the bins and so on.
  • Issues you have to design around can include, shade from buildings or walls, lots of overlooking windows, ugly views, large shrubs or trees (yours and or the neighbours), your climate or your available garden budget!

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Nothing to do with garden design – it’s just our favourite very non-PC plant description!

Step 3 – Match your Expectations with your Available Time:

Magazines are full of the most amazing looking gardens – and they are truly beautiful. There are also thousands of images of perfectly tended vegetable patches brimming with lush veg and not a marauding pigeon in sight.

However, these gardens have been cultivated and cosseted by a full time team of expert gardeners. They will have spent hundreds of hours ensuring the garden is preened to perfection for that one photograph….& unless you want to do the same, your garden is unlikely to ever look like one of these.

Do not overestimate the amount of time you actually have spare to ‘do the garden’. If you only have 1 hour a week to spare in the garden; the design and the plants you use must reflect this. Otherwise you will quickly end up with an weedy untidy mess.

You want to have a few red flags as possible

Don’t Plant a Problem:

Creating a low maintenance garden is desirable for most of us, so that we can sit in the garden and enjoy it without finding lots more stuff that needs doing. Actually getting this right is much harder to achieve. You really need to think hard about how you use the garden. What you like to do in the garden and how much time you have available to do some gardening!

Decide what low maintenance means for you – and then create the garden.

For example, you may thoroughly enjoy deadheading but hate tying climbers onto fencing. You may love raking shingle (can’t think why though) and you may despise trimming the edges. All of these factors need to be thought of or you will end up creating a garden with too many chores.

As a result, you will have created a sort of wish list for the garden – but a wish list of things you like as well as things you want to avoid. This is your blueprint to designing the garden. The garden should tick all the ‘I like’ boxes & avoid as many of the elements you don’t want. As a result, the garden created should be low maintenance for you. It doesn’t matter if others don’t like the garden or would do something different – they don’t do the maintenance, you do.

Creating your garden will take time if you rush in too soon, you will create unexpected problems for yourself that will take a lot more time to rectify.

We can also help you design your garden and we don’t even need to visit you, all we need is a photo!