How to Design a Garden

Determine Your Garden Style

The bright and varying colors of wildflowers might be part of your ideal garden.

Before you start buying things for your landscape, think about what you like, what goes with your home, and the amount of finishing and trimming you are interested in doing. Stylized topiaries (plants trimmed into geometric or fanciful shapes) must be nipped into shape every month or so, but naturalistic, dwarf plants take care of their shape pretty much by themselves. Styles of gardening vary around the world and in different eras. If attempting a historically correct garden, choose a selection of old-fashioned plants instead of new cultivars that were not available in that period.

There are fashions in plants and garden accessories just as there are fashions in clothing, music, and indoor furnishings. A recent planting fashion combined chartreuse-leaved plants with purple-leaved plants, and suddenly people were doing this everywhere. It's a good idea to think about style and keep the varied parts of your landscape in sync with one another. On a larger property, you can use a formal landscaping style near the home, but as the distance from the home increases, have the style become more informal and natural looking to blend into the surrounding countryside.

Some people prefer the orderly lines and shapes of a formal garden, but such a layout does require a certain amount of upkeep. Learn more on the next page.

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