An SGD reader recently wanted to know “how to plant around raised garden beds and structures within a walkway border bed and keep it visually appealing and cohesive“.
The short answer is you can’t (well, not easily)…
A garden with lots of unconnected elements never looks right. They need to fit into the overall design layout…
For instance, notice how the metal planters above seamlessly work with the proportions and shapes of the path landscaping materials. That did not happen by accident. The planters were designed into this scheme from the outset…
An overall design layout is key
ANYTHING in the garden and I do mean absolutely anything, needs to be placed within an overall design layout first, if you want it to be appealing and cohesive.
A good garden design is not a series of unrelated parts. A garden is a whole entity and MUST be treated as such…
The problem is rarely one area that’s wrong – it’s usually the whole garden!
I know, that’s really not what you wanted to hear… but all is not lost…
Landscaping around existing raised beds
If you already have raised borders in place, you need an overall design layout that incorporates them into one flowing design.
You’ll just have a few more bits and bobs to design around.
- Get your garden measured as accurately as you can and onto paper
- Plot all the things that are fixed in place that you want/need to keep
- Design a layout that seamlessly incorporates all those elements
If that sounds daunting or too much effort, in the long run, it won’t be.
Just imagine the time you will otherwise spend trying to make the area look right, in a neverending cycle of shifting, purchasing and planting.
If you’d like to know exactly what you’ll need to do to achieve a great layout, do attend one of my free garden design web classes and I’ll walk you through the process.
So whilst I haven’t been able to give the answer that I suspect most people would want – ‘just add X’ and all your visually woes will immediately disappear, I will still give some tips that will hopefully help when it comes to incorporating raised bed…
Designer tips for raised borders
- Try not to make your raised beds too high because the higher it is, the harder it will be to incorporate.
- If the construction material isn’t visually pleasing, try to clad it in something that is, like willow.
- Proportions – make sure the planter isn’t too large or small for the area you’re putting it in. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t put it that size if it were at ground level, don’t do it raised!
- If your raised beds are seasonal like tiered strawberry planters, forgo some strawberries and plant some trailing flowering plants so that the planter looks good for longer.
- If a planter is just for veg, placing it at the end of the garden behind screening is probably a better option than on the patio.
How to incorporate practical elements like coldframes and greenhouses
Another reader asked this and it can be tricky, especially in small gardens. If you have space, create a special area at the end of your garden or wherever it won’t be in full view.
If not, try painting the frames to match other elements as they have within the image above with this garden shed, raised bed and pergola.
If painting isn’t an option, then try to disguise the greenhouse or coldframe as best you can with a trellis in front of it and have other things around it that will distract your focus away from it.
Want to learn more about creating great garden design layouts?
*Photo credit – top image – Ofer El-Hashahar
*Photo credit: 2nd & 5th images – Field Outdoor Spaces
*Photo credit: 3rd & 3rd from last images – Herry Lawson
*Photo credit: 4th image – Purdryns
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