3 things to consider when planning your garden

Starting a new garden can be exciting, but before you dig in you'll need to properly plan your space for best results. Here are three things to keep in mind when planning your garden.

3 things to consider when planning your garden

1. Hard landscaping basics

  • The first thing to consider and plan is what is known as hard landscaping, specifically the paths and walkways you will need to get around the garden
  • What parts of the garden you will need to access depends on the layout of the property, but, while winding paths look good on paper, in practice people move in straight lines — look at the lawns on almost any high school - the students take the direct route, no matter where the walkways go
  • The main entrance should be wide enough for two people to walk side by side. Unless the soil is very well drained, it might pay to have this professionally installed so that it does not become uneven in time and cause someone to trip
  • Think also about moving soil and compost around the garden - a wheelbarrow needs only a narrow path, but a two-wheeled cart needs a much wider one
  • If you are planning to add a swimming pool at some later date, remember to leave access for the machinery that will be needed to dig the hole or transport an above-ground one. This includes a gate or door that allows entry into the garden and enough space to maneuver through it

2. The importance of prioritization

  • Sketch the locations of the hard landscaping onto the rough plan and then make a list of features you want to have
  • Prioritize these and then try to fit them into the open spaces
  • It is rather like doing a jigsaw and some will have to be left out, but you should end up with a design that, in time, will give you a very attractive and useful garden

3. Should you go the high-tech route?

  • Another route is to buy one of the many garden design software programs
  • These vary considerably in price and complexity, but can provide many good ideas and help to ease the design process; although, the more complex ones can have a steep learning curve
  • They generally require you to enter a postal code and then the program displays a list of plants suitable for your area. (In the unlikely event that American software is all that is available, Canadians should simply enter the United States zip code of an area with a similar climate)
  • The number of plants available increases with the price of the software and some allow you to add more plants
  • Some will allow you to peek into the future and can generate a picture of what various aspects of the garden will look like in five, 10, or 20 years' time, as the plants grow
  • The more expensive programs allow you to zoom in to a specific part of the garden and enlarge it to plan an individual area, such as a perennial bed, in greater detail
  • When the planning is finished, the program will print out a list of the plants needed that you can take to the garden centre and, if applicable, a list of the construction material needed to install the hard landscaping

Starting a garden from scratch allows you to customize your outdoor space to best suit your tastes and needs. Keep these three basic factors in mind, and you'll get your garden off to a good start.

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