Plan your style and layout

Do you already know what you want your garden to look like and how you want to use it? Or do you need some pointers to get your started?

These are our top tips for designing a garden that lives up to expectations:

Choose a style

  • Decide whether you like formal or informal spaces. Do you prefer gardens with straight or curvy lines, slightly wild and untamed, or manicured and carefully composed? 
  • The best garden designs have a strong style.  Start with a theme as you would when planning interior décor. A repeated colour palette or specific garden style will give a cohesive feel. Explore our garden styles for landscaping inspiration.
  • Use painted colour, lighting, textiles and beautiful feature pots to make your outdoor living room appealing and reflect your personal style.

Be realistic about time

Create zones that reflect how you use your garden

  • How will you use your space? Treating your garden as a series of rooms (or one zone with different functions) can help create connected but practical spaces.
  • If you want enough homegrown vegetables for a family, think about how you can maximise growing space in each of your zones.  The most productive urban edible gardens don't stop at a simple vegetable bed.  They also incorporate edible hedging, pots, hanging baskets.  Vertical space and overhead pergolas can also be used creatively.  

Put a plan on paper

  • Draw up a garden plan on grid paper so you can see how everything will fit together.
  • Cut out coloured paper shapes that match the areas and garden beds you want in your space. Move them around on your paper to see what layout works best.
  • Mark areas that are shady, boggy, dry or exposed - you will need to choose suitable plants for these areas.

Choosing the right plant for the right spot

  • Be realistic about your plant choices - a large tree won’t work in a tiny garden, a sun-loving plant won’t thrive in a shady spot, and a rose won’t look at home in a tropical-themed space!  Get ideas on what to plant in our design section or use our plant filter to search for plants that suit your garden conditions.
  • The best time to plant your garden depends on the plants you have chosen but you can always plant some now, and some later.  Some plants (like fruit trees) are best planted in winter while others (like some vegetables and herbs) are best planted in spring or summer. 
  • The best edible garden is full of food you love to eat, so remember to plant your favourites!

Proportion, repetition and grouping plants create visual appeal

  • Urban gardens look larger if you create depth by planting tall plants at the back, mid-sized in the middle and smaller ones at the front.
  • Repetition is pleasing to the eye. You can achieve this with mass planting, repeating a feature plant, or using just a small number of plant varieties throughout the garden.
  • Rules are made to be broken but groups of three plants generally look balanced and visually appealing.