Whether you are new to gardening, or are just looking to bring your garden to the next level this season, designing your garden before you get started is always an essential step. There are a few things that you need to ask yourself even before you buy any plants or seeds. What will you be growing? Will your garden be flowers or edibles, or a mix of both? And what kind of light does your potential garden get?
The first thing you need to assess right away when gardening is the light. If you want to have a garden of herbs and vegetables, but all you have is a shaded area at the back of your yard, chances are that your garden probably will not thrive there. Knowing what light you have allows you to plan in advance and saves you a lot of time and money. Low light or shade loving vegetables do exist, and by knowing what light you have available, makes the whole gardening experience much easier and enjoyable. Knowing what you need to purchase helps your budget, and saves you from headaches later when your rosemary and oregano seem to refuse to grow in the shade.
Next, always assess the soil. Soil needs good drainage for most plants to thrive, and soil that is too heavy or that has too much clay, can cause the roots of your garden to drown, which in turn, rots the plants. If the earth you are using, or the existing earth you are working with, is too heavy, consider adding some potting soil or lava rock to the soil to help it drain better and aerate nicely. This is a huge benefit to the plants, and you will see an enormous change in the growth of your garden. This is the same for those who choose to container garden. Ensuring that your plants have proper drainage and soil that allows aeration to the roots benefits the growth of your plants. And remember, turning over your garden plot or emptying pots every season gives you a huge advantage because it helps to break up the soil and encourages aeration.
Once you have the light and soil for your garden figured out, the fun part begins. When deciding what to grow, consider what colors, smells, shapes, and heights you enjoy, and try to choose plants that fit within that vision to work with. For example, if you want a garden similar to an English cottage, and you know that you have full sun, you could plant a climbing rose against the wall of your house to have a backdrop to the bed of lavender, geraniums, and heather that lie below. Knowing what theme to work with encourages you to plan and consider the placement of each element in your garden allowing each plant enough room to be properly grow and to be showcased. Planting tall or climbing elements at the back of your garden allows you to create a space where each plant not only gets equal light, but allows your eye to rest on each plant individually, and creates a flow to your garden.
When you plan and design your garden in advance, you can ensure that plants do not block one another, or outgrow and encroach on the space of others around it. That being said, when you design your garden, you can create different climates within the same space, allowing more opportunities for you to grow more plants. For example, if you are in a situation where your garden gets profound sun, you could consider planting a wisteria vine over a trellis that shades the ground below it creating space for a bed of hens and chicks, which thrive in a filtered light, and dryer environment. By creating different climates within a single garden, you essentially double the potential of your garden because you are then free form the constraints of a garden designed solely by the light requirements of the plants that live within it.
Designing your garden beforehand saves time in the long run, and also focuses you in regards to what you need to add each season, and what needs to be worked on. The work upfront with designing a garden is well worth it, and is a useful gardening tool to help you set goals and emulate the elements of famous gardens in your own space. When you plan your garden, either on paper, or in your head, you allow yourself to focus on the specific needs of each plant and you are better able to decide if each plant is best suited for your space.