Perfect Garden Designing - Steps

Garden DesignsGarden design is not just the ability to create a beautifully illustrated plan, although this is one of the many outputs of the garden design process and arguably the most exciting. A garden designer's role is to find creative, practical solutions to the many technical challenges presented by an outdoor space.

A good garden designer can make a garden that is useable and suitable for a specific set of requirements as well as being beautiful and a pleasure to spend time in.

It would not be possible to describe fully how to design a garden in a single article. A great deal of training and experience is required to understand how to obtain the correct ratio of mass to void in a garden design scheme, or how to create rhythm in a garden design, or working with shapes to ensure the garden flows and feels comfortable to use.

So, the following paragraphs outline major steps in the garden design process and I will go into more detail about each phase in separate articles.

1. Decide on the requirements for the garden

Before considering aesthetics it is necessary to understand the practical requirements for the garden such as how it will be used, by whom and who will look after it. Answering a series of questions is the best way to arrive at the requirements.

2. Get inspired

Experienced garden designers know the value of regularly looking at all forms of art and architecture in order to keep their 'visual vocabulary' up to date and get inspiration for their designs. Inspiration can come from a shape in nature like an old, gnarled tree, an architectural detail on a building, a combination of shapes and colours in a painting, almost anywhere if you are looking with a creative eye.

Look at materials, interior and exterior. Textures and patterns in wall and floor tiles, stone cladding, marble mosaics, etc are a great source of inspiration and can result in a piece of detailing that lifts the garden design scheme out of the mundane.

3. Take the site survey

Take a thorough site survey and analysis. Measure the house including the position and height of all doors and windows. The survey should show steps, drains, manhole covers, chimney breasts, and anything else that will affect the final garden design.

A garden is rarely square or flat. Use triangulation and offsetting to plot in the garden boundaries, and the location of all plants, garden features and buildings. Make a note of things outside the garden like overhanging trees or a fabulous view as they will affect the eventual design of the garden. Survey any level changes in the garden and mark these clearly on the survey.

Take a soil sample for analysis. It's important when planting to know what the ph level (acidity or alkalinity) of the soil in order to choose the correct plants. Some plants prefer a soil that is more acidic and others will only grow in a more alkaline soil. It is also necessary to identify boggy places, shaded areas and other potentially troublesome parts of the garden.

A note must be made of what lies beyond the garden boundaries. If the garden overlooks a great view this can be used as part of the new design - this is called 'borrowing' the view. However, if there is something ugly outside the garden like a derelict building, or the garden is overlooked by neighbouring properties these will need to be screened out as part of the garden design.

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