Begin by drawing your garden on paper.
Less or more detailed, it is much better to have a draft lay-out plan that will help you get a global perspective on your garden, of the solutions you can give, of the image and the functions that you wish to obtain.
A well-balanced landscape will lend unity and harmony to the garden.
Before even start questioning yourself about the colors you want to see around you, you should first pay attention to shapes.
A garden is, essentially, a portion of land that can be mapped out on paper. Imagine seeing your garden from above. Regular, straight lines, oblong and square segments tend to look overly artificial, are predictable and don’t add the necessary variety.
Try using circles, which will smooth out a long rectangular garden, and diagonals, which can create the illusion of a larger space, by directing the eye both length- and wide-wise. Play with crooked lines or curves, in order to break your garden into smaller areas.
Be bold: create focal points.
These may be a round flower bed in the middle of the garden, a little pond, a bench shadowed by trees, a bush with a rich yellow or red color in the midst of an area dominated by shades of green, a small rock garden. Focal points give character and help you avoid monotony; they can even help you exploit dull or difficult corners that you wouldn’t know how to use.
More Elements of Landscape Design
Besides the horizontal plane, of course, a garden also develops vertically: first due to the growing plants, then by possible differences in ground levels and/or by constructions that we can introduce to the ensemble. Pergolas, low walls, decorations, bush fences, sculptures and fountains, garden furniture, sunshades, arcades and arches… combined with a varying heights of the plants and with smart arrangements, they can really show off a garden, as they play with existing space and the impressions created by the volumes of the individual elements.
Design the landscape of your dreams, without being restricted by thoughts of whether all these plans for a heavenly garden will be immediately materialized.
Rome, they say, wasn’t built in a day. Set up a general working plan, based on the final outcome that you want to achieve, and work on it in proportion to the time and the budget that you can spare at various intervals.
Now is the time to start working with color. This concerns, at an initial level, the choice of structural and decorative elements, in other words of those more permanent features of the garden which often set the overall tone, at least in certain select areas.
After determining and setting the foundation, on which you’re going to work, you can then fit in the appropriate plants, so that you create a unified ensemble, pleasing to the eye.
Color can also be added, especially in the beginning, when the garden has not yet acquired its final form and image, with flower pots and other decorations and accessories: small sculptures, chairs and other furniture, a bird house, the colors applied to a little cabin, etc.
Imagine yourself standing a few steps above your garden and looking at it. A large area of flat, trimmed turf stretches beneath your feet.
Why not create an antithesis by inserting a round or oval bed where some dark green underbrush will grow unfolding its wavy leaves?
Or, you can make up for the sharp effect created by a tree with hard, sword-shaped leaves, such as a yucca, with tasseled bushes of various heights and colors surrounding it; a tall vertical plant or structure can be mitigated by a creeper that would graciously climb its trunk or poles.
It’s all up to your imagination.
We should not forget that a garden is a composite structure: the play of hard materials (stone, wood, etc) with soft ones (plants, water) can create very interesting and fanciful combinations.
Furthermore, the ground itself is by no means a neutral element: the earth, the stones, gravel and pebbles, the slates and tiles – they all play an active role in the creation and the final overall image of the garden, and they can be used, properly placed, to help fashion contours, pathways and focal points and water features.
Whether your lifestyle compels you to be absent during most of the day, so that you can enjoy your garden mainly during nighttime, or you have the freedom to stay long hours at home, dare to discover the magical moments and the mystic ambiance that appropriate lighting can offer.
Strong, unified lighting is barely advisable.
Little spotlights can set off impressive plants or ornamental structures; small appealing lamps can contribute to the décor during the day and signal the existence of paths and of other points of interest during the night; if your garden has a pond, it would be a good idea to exploit the reflections of light on water and create a dreamscape.
In any case, consult an electrician on how to install the lights and pay special attention to protecting the electrical system from weather and from other damages by using reinforced or armored cables and/or by covering them with wireways buried in the ground.
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