Garden Planning and Design: Steps to Take In Each Season

Garden planning
Plan for a profusion of color in your garden throughout the year.

You want to design your garden. Where do you begin? While you can call in the experts, there’s also a lot that you can do yourself. After all, you know your home well. Breaking down the design into different seasons can help you feel less overwhelmed about doing an overhaul of your garden and turning it into something new and even more beautiful and functional. 

What is Garden Design? 

When you design a garden, you create a layout for your garden through the seasons and make plans to put it into practice. To create a feeling of unity, garden design can focus on a specific theme for your garden. For instance, you could choose a minimalist Japanese garden or a cottage country garden. However, your garden does not need to have a specific theme to work well. 

The Elements of Garden Design 

Garden design is a soup of many different elements. It’s not a textbook but a palette from which you take different design elements, mix them together and come up with a garden that suits you. What are some of the design elements you should consider as you develop your garden space? 

  • According to Better Homes and Gardens, “Line is one of the most important and useful of all design elements. Everything in the garden involves line.” As people look at your garden, where do their eyes go? As you consider your garden design, think about where you want people to look and how you will move their eyes to that place.
  • Light creates a mood in the garden. Whether you’re considering how the morning light hits some of the first flower beds near your home or you’re thinking about what the garden looks like when you invite guests over during the summer months, light is essential to your garden planning and design.
  • Textures add interest and variety to the garden. Plants have a wide variety of textures, from fluffy seeds to spiky flowers. 
  • Patterns help maintain a sense of order in the garden. This could involve adding plants in a specific order in multiple garden beds or creating color patterns that are echoed elsewhere in the garden. Patterns give your garden a feeling of familiarity.  
  • Balance gives you a feeling of order in the garden. One example of this is a doorway with two perfectly balanced planters on either side. This sort of symmetry can be part of your garden design. 
  • Color is what many people think about when they think about garden design. Your colors can complement or contrast with each other, and they can change through the seasons.
Garden planning
Get creative: unique garden elements add interest to your design.

The Stages of Garden Design

Before you jump into designing your garden, there are other steps to take: 

  • Consider the garden you want. What do you want to do in your garden? How do you want it to feel? 
  • Look at your current garden. What are the possibilities? Is it wet, hot, or windy? According to New Leaf Designs, at this stage, you should “Assess its position and features. Soil analysis is carried out.  Dimensions and levels are measured to enable a scale drawing to be produced.”
  • Create a garden concept, then move to a more detailed design. Even if you’re doing this yourself, it helps if you can create an outline of your garden on paper to guide you through the planning and installation process.
  • Create a plan for planting and installation of hardscaping elements. This allows you to ensure that each step occurs at a logical time. For example, you’ll need to install your garden beds and pathways before you start planting.

Why Design With the Seasons? 

You decide how to plan your garden, but so do the seasons. As droughts come and windstorms move across your garden, as spring rains and the summer’s heat spur on the blossoms, the seasons change your garden much more than you might imagine. Your job is to design with the seasons so that you can embrace all of those changes that each one brings.

Spring Design and Planning 

Every season has its to-do list as you design and implement your garden plans. In the spring, you need to design your garden so that it wakes up and shines. 

  • Plant any last-minute perennials that you did not plant in the fall. 
  • Design your garden for spring bulbs. Create a plan for the look of your garden throughout the spring season, since bulbs don’t last for the entire spring. Plan to plant these bulbs in the fall. 
  • Examine garden drainage patterns and how you can make changes to those patterns to allow water to pool and drain in the places where you need it to do so. 
  • Make plans for the renewal of your hardscaping and your outdoor living spaces that you will use during the summer months.
  • Each spring, evaluate your garden’s success during the winter months. Consider structural changes that you should make before the next winter.
Garden design
In addition to designing the flowerbeds, design your home for outdoor living.

Summer Design and Planning 

In the summer, your garden is in full bloom. What garden design and planning do you need to complete in the summer months? 

  • Evaluate your outdoor living needs as your family changes. Do you need to install a new deck or add a trellised reading nook?
  • Review home maintenance and conduct maintenance projects during the drier part of the year. This is the right time to install new hardscaping elements that you’ll use in the coming year, such as a new deck or flower beds. 
  • Plan for and add seasonal decorative items, such as planters.
  • Evaluate your landscape lighting, particularly that lighting that allows you to entertain outdoors after dark.
  • Watch to see how your garden fares in the heat of the summer, and plan for new water flow and landscaping strategies to minimize water use.
  • Take time to observe the garden and make plans to add additional shade.

Fall Design and Planning 

Fall is the time to prepare for winter and embrace the last flowers of the summer. In the fall, your design should focus on preparing for the new year as well. Fall tasks include:

  • Planning for fall color and reflecting on what’s working well and where you need to add excitement to your garden in the coming year.
  • Preparing for winter, and making plans that will help protect plants and structures in your garden. 
  • Planting new perennials so that they have time to establish before the winter  
  • Adding mulch to new garden beds

Winter Design and Planning

Winter is a time to consider how well your garden has done over the course of the year. During the winter, you should: 

  • Conduct any emergency or last-minute maintenance for the winter season. 
  • Conduct an overall review of your garden’s successes and failures. What thrived in your garden this year? What’s getting too large? Make plans to address this in the new year.

Garden design and planning is a constant task of observing, evaluating, and reflecting on what works and what doesn’t work for your home, family, and garden ecosystem. At Harry Helmet, we’re your home renovation support system. We offer many different home products, including roofing, seamless gutters, awnings, and gutter guard products. Work with us to design your home in a way that will make your life simpler. Schedule a free estimate today.

Written by Del Thebaud

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