Garden Design Basics

Garden Design BasicsKent C&H

Have you got a problem yard? Does the lawn seem shabby, are plants overgrown or are there areas where weeds continually win the battle? Are you thinking about redoing your landscape but aren’t sure where to start? Don’t worry. Take a deep breath, relax and start your redesign with the basics. Here are a few things to consider when designing or redesigning your garden.

Soil —Dig and take a look below grade on your property to find out what type of soil you have. Sandy soil is dry and gritty and crumbles easily through your fingers. Water drains rapidly through it but it is light to work with. Clay soil feels sticky when it’s wet and easily rolls into a ball. It’s heavy and difficult to work with, but is slower to drain and has a tendency to block root absorption, which prevents plants from getting the nutrients they need. Loam soils are a combination of both. They hold moisture well, but may require the addition of organic matter. Knowing your soil type will help you choose the proper plantings for your garden and will let you know whether you need to provide treatments to improve your soil before you begin planting.

Site — Take a walk around your yard at different times of the day. Where does your garden get full sun, partial sun or no sun? The amount of sunlight your garden has will help determine the types of plants you grow and what part of the yard they should be planted.

Existing Plants — Take a look at your existing plants. Which are doing well or are suffering but salvageable? Decide on those that you want to keep and those that need to be removed. Pruning overgrown plants, shrubs and trees can help you with your decision. Don’t remove an ailing plant that you love unless you’re certain it won’t come back. Sometimes providing a little care with food and water or moving a plant to a better location can save it — and the expense of removal. 

Design — Landscape designs are widely varied, but basically your garden’s design will depend on your placement and choice of ornaments, garden structures, water features and plants (their shape, color, texture and scent). As you create your garden, remember to: unify different parts of your garden through repetition; balance repetition with variety to add visual excitement; provide a focal point where the eye can rest; and add hints of mystery by not allowing the entire garden to be seen from one vantage point.


Kent Horner
C & H Gardens
1244 Berryman Canyon
Encinitas, CA 92024

Categories: Gardening