In this post, I’m putting together a set of criteria to follow when you start to design your garden. After many years this is probably the critical point, the blank page, and where to start is always the challenge…
House&Garden as a whole!
First note that the unit «house & garden» is not based on a rigid criteria that evolves from the actual composition/design and after overlaid on your site; you need to consider the terrain and accordingly place the building(s) wisely. This idea has more to do with the actual garden uses you expect to have rather than only its aesthetics. Is true though that many times we may don’t get to decide this as buildings are already executed
(FirstTip: Define your uses & understand your plot).
In any case the garden must harmonized with the lines of the building(s) and extend this one into the landscape, incorporating its own rhythms, and finally it should drive gradually the view to the landscape, but always tending to compose the landscape as a whole
(SecondTip: step back, you are not just seating in your comfy bench looking at the beautiful planting border you’ve just created… You need to create a unity, check views, perspectives, understand the whole space and decide which spaces should be linked together -surprise yourself-).
Order the space
Now, that you’ve understand the plot, the terrain, the orientation, and that you know which uses you are willing to have… you need to divide your plot into geometric and regular forms.
For example, a very easy and functional composition which also gives rhythm to your design and a connection to the house is a linear walkway, which maybe limited by hedges and which you can also decorate with seats or terracota pots. At each side you can have vegetation borders, or within this vegetation gathering points with seating areas for example.
Water should alway be present, so give it a thought. It could be a raised pond/fountain, or just a small jet coming out from thewall into a small water container.
In a steep terrain you need terraces link with steps or ramps; in smaller plots you may have just a gathering space surrounded by vegetation… It doesn’t matter the actual size, but remember you need a focal point in the garden which needs to smoothly connect with the house. All areas are as important as the connections between them.
(ThirdTip: Divide your space using geometry. Obviously you may want a more naturalistic and/or flexible design, but remind yourself that all design has geometry, your own house probably is a rectangle or a square, so if you prefer clumps, natural borders…. that’s fine, but there isALWAYS an intrinsic geometry – and is a perfect starting point -).
This space order (& hierarchy) is always instructed by logic and harmony: walkways can define the main views; where this walkways crossed there can be pavilions, water bodies, trees, planting masses, or groups of statues/vases/pots. On the other hand open spaces can direct the eye to panoramic views. Remember, less is more.
(FourthTip: always reduce it to the simplest design and the most obvious to the eye, find what you are comfortable with, use your logic!)
The importance is in the detail
Pergolas, wooden trellis are very much used especially in small gardens, along with water motifs.
Trees and plant elements, need to be carefully selected, taking care of knowing well the final size of this ones and their climate/exposition & soil needs that works out with your garden’s.
To start getting realistic ideas of which plants you can use, and if you’ve no clue of what you actually want or can expect to have, the best is to go to your closest plant nursery and get a few ideas
(FifthTip: Get to the detail! in terms of plants check at your closest nursery first, the rest of the details think them carefully – beauty is in the detail-).
as a resume here there are the 5 tips to design your garden:
- Define your uses & understand your plot
- Step back, you need to create a unity, check views, perspectives, understand the whole space.
- Divide your space using geometry. If you want a more naturalistic and/or flexible design, remind yourself that all architecture has a geometry, your own house probably is a rectangle or a square, so if you prefer clumps, natural borders go with it, but there is ALWAYS an intrinsic geometry. So use it and make things easier for yourself.
- Always reduce it to the simplest design and the most obvious to the eye, find what you are comfortable with, use your logic!
- Get to the detail! and check plants at your closest nursery first.
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