Garden Design Ideas

Formal Garden Design

Formal gardens rely on geometrical shapes for their impact; they have straight hedges and walls, paths with perfect right angles at every bend, and geometric shaped beds. Think of formal herb gardens, which are laid out on a square or circular theme with paths bisecting them into equal-sized segments, and traditional double borders - two parallel borders planted with herbaceous flowers and a straight path between them. Walled gardens, pergolas, terraces and carpet bedding are also formal features.

A formal garden looks good in a geometrical space, such as a rectangle, ideally enclosed by hedges or walls. But it does not have to be designed to a traditional plan. Modern formal gardens can be based on shapes that overlap and may even be asymmetrical.


Informal gardens are exactly the opposite. The essence of this sort of garden is that there isn't a straight line in the place. Lawn edges curve gently, beds are cut into natural contours in the land and paths meander round bends with plants spilling over the edges.

Think of island beds, cottage gardens and woodland walks. You can have hedges with peepholes cut in them, seats under climber-clad structures, irregularly shaped areas of paving and teardrop-shaped flower beds.

Informal gardens are getting even more informal. Now, wild gardens, old-fashioned hay meadows and prairie-style borders are the last word in fashionable informal gardens, where the effect is positively untamed.


My idea of a traditional garden is a sort of scaled-down version of a country house garden with a lawn, shrubberies and a herbaceous border, and the fruit: and vegetable plot out of sight down at the end. This is the sort you could happily put a 'bit of everything' into and that could include things like a rockery and fishpond, bulbs growing in grass under trees, and a work area with greenhouse, cold frames and compost heaps.

Nowadays you'll find a traditional sort of garden has only a few items from down in size. But the color scheme is tasteful - probably pastel, or a sort of random mixture of colors diluted with plenty of green foliage to prevent clashing. Any furniture is subtle (real wood like teak, or cast-aluminum repro). Planting is based on the tried-and-tested principles of Vita SackviIle-West, Gertrude Jekyll and other such icons.


Young, trendy designers may be like red rags to traditional gardeners, but a lot of their output (seen at famous flower shows) gives a new slant on garden layout. Modern garden designs tend to follow the trends of interior decoration - so paint-effect pots, trompe l'oeil and murals on walls, colorful sheds and seats and loud, subtropical-look plants all have their place.

A state-of-the-art design can look just right around a contemporary house. But unless you are the sort of person who likes to follow fashion and doesn't mind updating their garden every few years, be warned. A very modern style is likely to go out of fashion quite quickly. Choose an avant-garde design that suits the style of your house rather than slavishly following the latest trends, if you want a garden you can live with for some time.

Garden Design Ideas for Winter Interest

During the English winter most people used to just close the curtains on the damp, soggy mass of vegetation that constituted their garden. These days' people expect so much more from their outdoor space and gardens really have to work for their money, especially urban gardens where private space comes at such a premium. They want something to look out at and even glean inspiration from on a crisp, cold but sunny winter's day. Here are some tips on how to create interest in your garden in winter.

The most important element in a garden design is structure but in many gardens this is precisely what is missing. Structure is like the back bone of the garden, providing support for the plants through the year and providing form through winter when the herbaceous plants die back. Without structure, the garden is just a bare space during the winter months. When designing gardens themselves people tend to overlook structure for colourful fillers. Also people associate structure with large, drab evergreen shrubs so ubiquitous in suburban gardens. However there are plenty more interesting ways to add structure. Mahonia 'Charity' has interesting spiky evergreen leaves and also has yellow flowers in winter. Blackbirds also love the large black berries. The hardy palm, Trachycarpus fortunei will add a sculptural element to your garden with a tropical flavour. Structure doesn't need to be evergreen either. I think there is something profoundly beautiful about a garden dying back. It makes spring all the more exciting and it doesn't mean your garden has to be empty. The bare branches of Viburnum plicatum 'Mariessii', with its wedding cake form, look great in winter.

Structure can also come in the form of clipped hedges. These work especially well in geometric gardens, dividing the space with their neat forms. On a grand scale these were used in famous gardens such as Sissinghurst but more recently they have been used to great effect with the crisp lines of contemporary, urban garden rooms. Nowadays many people are turning their gardens into outdoor rooms which tend to be ultra low maintenance. Structure in these gardens is provided by both hard and soft landscaping. Low walls or raised beds and bench seating built with contemporary materials, provide interest in winter as well as summer. Try capping walls with the same stone as used on the ground. Creating links allows features to work together as a unified whole but when choosing materials, always remember the old adage, 'less in more'.

If you don't want to completely redesign your garden there are plenty of plants to add winter interest and many of these also provide much needed food for birds in winter. Berries add a splash of colour and range from shades of yellow through orange to red. The native hawthorn and honeysuckle are good for berries, as are many Cotoneaster species. Rosehips also add colour in winter and are loved by birds. Rosa rugosa varieties are easy to grow and provide plenty of hips. Seed heads look great when covered in frost, like the stately grass, Miscanthus sinensis with its delicate, silvery flower heads and the seed heads of Rudbeckia species are a favourite with finches. The globe thistle (Echinops ritro) also has very interesting seed heads that hold their shape in winter. All these plants are easy to buy so why not go ahead and give it a go!

S. Fonseca has run a garden design business in North London since qualifying in garden design in 2000. She specialises in designing urban spaces which present a specific set of problems to solve. She is also trained in horticulture and has a lot of experience of planting for difficult growing conditions. She combines garden design with her interest in the environment, creating sustainable planting schemes and encouraging use of more sustainable materials.

Discover the Easiest Way to Build Beautiful Garden Furniture - Using Wood Plans

If you are one of those people who loves to be in your garden and you need an extra something there, this is your perfect opportunity. Now that you are a DIY woodworker, this is the time to build that special accent that you would like in the garden. What about a gazebo, always attractive and useful, if you have the room, or a picnic table. There are all sorts of ideas to make something to enhance that space and there are plans for you to make them too. With the garden woodworking project, you will be able to be sitting in your garden, having a nice lunch at the picnic table, with your family, which you built yourself, in no time at all. The internet has the plans there, waiting for you to decide which one you would like to have.

There is no need to visit all those stores to browse through their books to find that special item. The websites have at least approximately fifteen thousand plans, along with the instructions for you. What could be easier than that. There are plans for every project that you will ever be interested in making available, so you will not run out of ideas, not in your lifetime. Today would be a good time to start on that DIY woodworking project.

You have no worries, as these plans were designed by people who are experts in the woodworking field, so they will definitely meet the proper standards that you will need. There is so much experience in all those plans, years and years worth, so they will be easy to follow and will be explained, so that you will have no trouble understanding the directions. The variety of garden woodworking plans is endless. Just imagine, the garden arbor, with a bench attached, a perfect place to sit and watch the birds which will come to your garden. Beside that, you could place the Adirondack chair, so your friend could join you.

Now do not forget to build that special birdhouse, so the little ones have a place to grow up. Your dog might like to have a new house to stay in, so what better time to build him one, with your own hands and skills. When you are working on that specific project, if you have any questions regarding any aspect of it, you could contact the person who designed the plans, you just have to post them an email, so they can get back to you. They are very willing to help a newcomer to the woodworking craft with whatever problem they might be having.

There is never a question too small or too big, for them to share their expertise with you. They were a beginner at one time also, so they do not mind helping. One word of caution, go at the project at a rather slow pace, as it is so easy to get caught up in the wonderful plans, but you can only do one at a time.