Front Garden Makeover – SGD Reader’s Plans

Nicole - A Successful Garden Design Workshop 'Student'!

Nicole – A Successful Garden Design Workshop ‘Student’!

I get so excited when people send me photographs of what they’ve done in their garden from what they’ve learned here at Successful Garden Design. So I’m thrilled to be able to share with you a really simple front garden makeover that one of our readers is in the process of doing.

So these are the plans that Nicole, from Washington DC, has drawn up after watching just the garden design workshop (that gives an overview of the whole design process, it’s not even a full garden design course – we’ll feature a garden from a full design course next time!).

Successful Garden Design Workshop Viewer’s Front Yard Makeover

Front-Yard-Makeover-planWhat I love about what Nicole has done is she’s kept things really simple (hugely important).

She’s gone for a geometric shape that makes the best use of the available space, and she’s created interest through the rest of this tiny front garden with a stepping stone path that weaves through the edible planting.

Click on the image of the plan to view it larger.

The photos below show the before, we don’t have a finished photo yet as it’s still a work in progress, but I hope she’ll keep me updated later in the year.

Even though the photos don’t show the finished garden yet, you can see along with the plan image how much better the circular lawn shape is making the space look.


Helping the next generation of young gardeners learn

Nicole has not only tackled her front yard but she’s also volunteered to design and start the edible garden at her children’s elementary school. How wonderful is that!

She’s currently doing a course on permaculture methods and is trying to incorporate the aesthetics she’s learned here on this website with the practical and functional requirements of the permaculture system.

Here’s the plan she’s drawn up for it. For those of you not familiar with permaculture concepts, you basically work with nature, particularly the contours of the land so that you can make use of all available rainfall by the use of mini-ditches called swales.


Permaculture principles in a nutshell

So basically, permaculture is not only about self-watering, it’s a system that harmonises the best of nature with how you combine plant varieties, so you don’t have to dig or fertilise the soil when it’s set up properly and there’s very little weeding involved (that’s my kind of fruit and vegetable gardening – the type that does it itself!).

If you’re interested in this type of edible gardening, check out Geoff Lawton – he’s an amazingly knowledgable guy that shows you how to create a ‘food forest’ in any size garden, in any location. They’ve even managed a permaculture system near the Dead Sea of all places, it’s truly amazing what can be achieved when man works with nature…

You CAN do this too!

I’m thrilled to see how people put what they learn from the online workshops and courses to good use. Not everyone is brave enough to let me use their photos on the website, so big thanks to Nicole. I hope more of you will be inspired to have a go yourself.

If you need help…

Then do check out the Successful Garden Design online garden design courses – you can see the results people have got by going to the ‘Hall of Fame – your gardens‘ category of the website.

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

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[DESIGN SHOW 10] – Vegetable Gardens – Designer Ideas, with Niki Jabbour

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To get Niki’s book, visit:

Vegetable Gardens – Designer Ideas

In this episode of Garden Design Show, Rachel will tell you all about how you can incorporate fruits and vegetables into your garden using stunning tips and tricks, regardless of what size your garden is.

This episode features a guest expert, a broadcaster and the best selling author of “Year-Round Vegetable Gardener”, Niki Jabbour. They will also discuss Niki’s new book called “Groundbreaking Food Gardens”. They look at ideas for growing edibles in small space gardens. Also featured is the food producing modern courtyard Rachel designed that is in Niki’s book!

This is what’s in Groundbreaking Food Gardens

One of the garden ideas discussed from the book is Amy Stewart’s (‘The Drunken Botanist”) collaboration with Susan Morrison – their Cocktail Garden shows just how fun plants can be and you can grow things you like to drink! You will be surprised what berries and edible flowers you can add to your salads that came straight from your fruit and vegetable garden.

Don’t forget the wildlife to help you grow vegetables…

Pollinators and wildlife can make an enormous difference to the quantity of vegetables your garden will produce. The natural side of the garden and the flowers that attract the pollinators and how you can keep them. Identify good bugs that will help you grow your fruit and vegetable garden or herb garden.

You will also see a sneak peak of Rachel’s design on the fruit and vegetable producing garden, which looks very modern and no one would think that it’s food producing. The book also features a concrete and steel garden, a good way to use recycled materials and concrete is ideal for some plants.

Before they wrap things up, Rachel asks Niki on what her advice is for people who are starting to build their own gardens and suggestions on vegetables and herbs you can mix in your garden plants. Niki recommends that you start small, so that growing vegetables doesn’t become a chore. If you’re successful (and if you buy Niki’s book, you certainly will be!) then you can always increase the area and grow more the following year.

Find out more about Niki Jabbour

Check out Niki’s websites and

Her book, ‘Groundbreaking Food Gardens’ is published by Storey and available in all good bookstores. It’s also available online at Amazon

The Design Show will be back later in the year – so what Would You Like to See Covered in Future Shows?

Rachel will be taking a break from filming for the summer to catch up on work and life! She’ll be back later in the year, so do leave a comment and let Rachel know what topics you’d like her to delve into in future episodes in the comment boxes below? Meanwhile, if you need help with your garden, check our Rachel’s Online Garden Courses that will help you to create a perfect garden on your own.

You can also subscribe to the Garden Design Show on iTunes:

Need more help? Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

[DESIGN SHOW 3] – Edible, modern landscape design with focal point and lighting design tips

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Episode 3 – Creating an edible, modern garden

Creating a garden that is full of edibles AND looks good, can be quite a daunting challenge. In this episode, landscape designer, Rachel Mathews, will show you how she transformed a garden in Malaysia into a contemporary, food-producing garden.

This episode also looks at how to correctly place focal points like garden statues and water features correctly around the garden. Placing focal points in the correct position in your garden makes a tremendous difference to how you view it. Rachel will show you how the best locations to put any garden feature.

There are also tips on how to place landscape lighting around your garden to enhance the design and make it look spectacular at night. There’s a trick to successfully lighting a garden well and Rachel will show you exactly what you need to do.


Competition time!

What was it that made the garden featured on today’s show modern and not traditional?

Rachel will randomly pick a winner from the correct answers and she will email you if you are a winner! Good luck.

What else would you like to see featured in future Garden Design Show episodes?

Is there something you are struggling with in your garden that you’d like some advice on? Let Rachel know what topics you’d like her to cover for you in future episodes in the comment boxes below.

Need Help with Your Garden?

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

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