How to make a garden – advice for first time gardeners

design advice for first time gardeners

How very exciting, you have become the owner of your first ever garden! But it’s also a little daunting, especially if you are new to gardening also. What do you do, where do you begin, what do you need to know?

Time needed: 8 minutes.

  1. It’s your first garden – it doesn’t need to look AMAZING!

    So stop watching the TV makeover shows and bin the images from the magazines. This is your first ever garden. It does not need to impress anyone, it just needs to make you happy

  2. Don’t try to transform all the garden in one go

    Gardening always has been a gentle process of evolution, learning and discovery. If you aim to ‘do’ the garden and get it finished in one go, you are unlikely to get every decision right. After all you’ve never had a garden before. So start with just one area, which is area you enjoy sitting in the most.

  3. Concentrate on making sure the garden delivers on the most important elements…

    It doesn’t need to include everything like a water feature or a veg patch, a lawn and a fire pit. Decide on the most important feature YOU will enjoy using the most. Start with that one.

  4. Remember it is YOUR garden, it only has to make YOU happy

    There is no need to create a style or a theme or spend loads of money on hard landscaping, feature plants and stylish lighting, that is not what a garden is. A garden in the place YOU enjoy relaxing in. It is a space that allows you to escape from the world; just a little bit. Consequently for the garden to work as you want it to, you have to know what it needs to deliver and that involves asking some questions….


Where to start?

Well, creating your first ever garden surprisingly does not involve you diving into Pinterest or the RHS and other gardening websites (apart from this one of course!) to find design inspiration. Instead you need a pen, some paper a comfy chair and a cup of your favourite tipple. You have some thinking to do.

Lets get a couple of things straight, gardens don’t have to look amazing to be amazing. Gardens just have to make YOU feel better, that is all. If the garden delivers the feelings you need it to, then it will be a great garden for you to be in. Hence the starting point, is understanding what your needs.

What is it about being outside that you enjoy? Is it the sounds of the birds, or curling up in a sunny corner with a book and a glass of wine? Do you love watching butterflies and insect buzz about or do just want a space that makes you feel the outside world is out of sight?

Understanding the primary purpose for the garden is the starting point. Then you start to work out how to achieve it.

What Makes a Garden Work?

Flow charts are a great way to help you design, they ask questions, show the options and help you find a solution to the problem. Once you mapped out all the questions you can think of, it is easier to prioritise the most important one.


By starting with your needs you will create a design that suits you. Remember it is not about creating a design that looks good, it is about enjoying being outside. Don’t get sucked into the thought process of trying to create a style like a contemporary or Mediterranean feel at the outset, the deciding the style comes after you have worked out how you will use the space.

For even more great and fabulous advice – Read ‘I Want to Like my Garden’ by Rachel McCartain.

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Simple Rules to Remember

Gardening can seem to be tricky and difficult and design even more so, you will hear words like form, function, proportion and flow and these are to the vast majority of gardeners pretty meaningless terms. At PlantPlots we try to make design and gardening easier…. so here are some simple rules to remember

20% of the garden will be used 80% of the time – so make sure you think about the 20% and get that right

Don’t focus on flowers, focus on the job you need the plant to do

All you need to start with is a place to sit, start with that, and make it lovely. Over time you will learn how you will use the rest of the garden, it’s faults and it’s good bits. You will make better decision if you have a little patience.


To Make Gardening Even Easier – we have lots of planting ideas for you to choose from. Designed by Us – Made by You.

Planting ideas

Border Plans and Garden Advice

Unsure what plants to use? No problem, just use one of the border designs we have created. You’ll know what to plant, how many to use and how to look after them.
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Making a Garden more interesting or rather how to avoid creating a boring garden!

Gardens come in all shapes styles and sizes, but the key feature we all want from any garden is that it is an area we enjoy using. Now all the pictures below show lovely gardens, but are these interesting as well? What is it about a garden that captivates inspires and interests you? Well you might think it is about the spectacle of the garden, but actually it’s not. This post focuses on why gardens capture and inspire you, and what simple easy changes you can make to your own garden – so that it too becomes a wonderful and captivating space.

Take this show garden design for example, as a feature this rill and circular water fountain is an eye-catching; the problem though is, it is entirely unworkable in any garden.

The rill here was deep, possibly 2ft in depth, now two problems emerge, firstly all the crud and debris that will fall into the rill – gumming it up. But also imagine you are taking a stroll down the garden at night… one misstep and you will break your ankle (not to mention poor old hedgehogs falling in and drowning)!

It is not the stuff we add to a garden that makes it interesting – it’s what the garden does to us, that makes us interested.

And how does a garden do that – it’s very simple; it makes you FEEL something.

But there’s another equally important element of design to consider – CURIOSITY.

How do gardens make you feel?

All gardens need to make you feel something, it must generate an emotional response, we are all driven and controlled by our emotions. If we feel hunger we eat, sadness we cry or happiness we laugh; these emotions are to a large extent driven by our senses. Prick your finger, it hurts and we feel an emotion to either yell out or wince. Stimulating your senses are then key if the garden is to become a place you enjoy being in.

If the garden is a place that smells lovely, is filled with interesting textures, and there are places that invite closer inspection, it becomes more interesting.

The essential elements responsible for capturing and holding your attention are the same whatever the size of the garden:


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