How to Design a Garden

Garden Proportions

©2007 Jupiter Images Corporation Flower beds, borders, and paths all add form to your garden.

Proportions of garden features are even trickier than shapes. Don't clutter the view with a lot of little shapes. Here are some general guidelines.

Island Beds

Make island beds half as wide as the distance from where you view them. Island beds, often oval or kidney-shaped, are situated in areas of lawn where they can be viewed from all sides. They may be near a corner of your yard or by your driveway or entrance walk. No matter

where you put it, an island bed needs to be wide enough to look substantial from your house, patio, or kitchen window -- wherever you usually are when you see it. A tiny garden located far from the house is more comical than beautiful. So, for example, if an island bed is 20 feet away, make it 10 feet across. In very large yards, keep island beds closer to the house if you don't have time to tend a large island bed.


Borders can take up to half of the space in a small- or medium-size yard. For example, a 40-foot-wide yard could have one border 20 feet wide or two borders 10 feet wide. Borders -- traditional gardens usually set at the edge of a yard, fence, or hedge -- also need enough size to be in scale and make an impact in the yard. Wider borders can accommodate taller plants, including trees, shrubs, and large clumps of perennials and ornamental grasses, taking on a rich diversity.

Another element of garden development is laying out pathways. Different kinds of suitable paving and shapes and sizes need to be taken into considereation when you plan your paths. Read more about it on the next page.

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