How to Design a Garden from Scratch


How to Design a Garden from Scratch

How do you start to think about what to ‘do’ with your garden? Where to start and what needs doing?

Because we always aim to make gardening easier, we have created a series on how to design your garden – this is the first in that series. Watch the video to find out how to start a garden from scratch.

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We design gardens from scratch too – & we don’t even need to visit you!


Small garden design issues have a larger impact than the same issues in a larger garden, simply because there is no space to hide. The key problem being that of fitting everything in, without it looking cluttered, squashed or muddled. It is just harder to hide ugly sheds, storage units or any ugly views.

It is easy for any small garden design to lose the battle between usable space and dead space. Dead space being the areas that are left over, that you can’t use, these take up valuable space, so the design needs to think how theses dead spaces appear.

Top tip….

Plants are used to fill dead spaces, if you can’t use them, you will not be making the garden smaller by using that area for plants – you would not be using it anyway!

Small gardens come in all shapes and sizes as well as having different garden environments. Each requires a different design solution. Modern gardens now tend to be smaller and are often awkward shapes, making designing them difficult. Maximising space in a small garden requires thinking much more in 3 dimensions, to make the most for the space you have.

What is a garden for?

Gardens are really good for us, helping reduce stress, relax, watch wildlife and soak up the sunshine. However many gardens don’t live up to the dreams of their owners, and often follow the same basic design layout – a central lawn with narrow garden borders around the edges. Gardens can be made to be so much more than simply a lawn with shrubs, but the principles of garden design can seem complex and hard to understand. Every piece of garden planning advice we provide aims to help you garden better.

Garden sizes have been shrinking for decades, the average size of a typical garden in London is little over ½ the size of a tennis court. The rest of the UK fares a little better, but is still on average only 12x16m in size. How you design this small space is key to making the most of the garden.

Gardens are not just outside rooms, gardens are where we interact with the nature and where nature interacts with us. Proper planning will ensure the garden design and planting benefits you. And hopefully it will also ensure the garden does no harm either.

Garden planning

is not the same as designing a garden. Planning a garden involves understanding your needs and aspirations.  Designing a garden requires converting those aspirations and dreams into practical workable solutions. Good garden design in not about lots of hard landscaping changes or spending lots of money. It is about ensuring the layout of the garden works for you but also works within the environment your location throws at you.

All the design advice provided assumes 2 things, you are not an expert gardener and that you will be doing the work yourself with limited budgets.

It’s just simple practical design advice for every shape and size of garden. But as most gardens are suburban, on an estate or a small city garden, that is this design advice focusses on.

Design advice for garden problems;

noise pollution, long narrow gardens, overlooked gardens and how to work out where to begin.

Making the most of the space depends on limiting the amount of dead space a garden creates, if you understand the basic design principles, designing any shape of garden is easier.

If you are still a bit stuck, you can get in touch, we have a unique online design service. We design from photos and a quick chat.