Planting Plan Help

Planting Scheme from istock images

Planting Scheme from istock images

The next FREE Garden Design Workshop will be all about how to effectively combine plants in a Planting Plan Design Workshop. I will show you the simple formula that I use to create stunning planting schemes.

The truth is though, great looking gardens don’t happen by accident. Yes, it’s true that sometimes small areas of a garden can ‘accidentally’ come together well, but not a whole garden. If you want to get great results with your garden, then you have to spend a little bit of time thinking and planning BEFORE you do it!

I know to some, that may sound about as much fun as sitting down to do school homework, but I assure you it’s nowhere near that bad, and can actually be lots of fun (if you go about it in the right way)!

The mistake that most people make, is to dive straight in to doing the planting stage, without having done the design stage first. Unfortunately, without good design shapes in place first, it won’t matter how good a job you do with the planting, the garden will never look right.

To begin with, the most important part of planning your garden (or yard for our American readers), is the overall design. Once you’ve got the design shapes right, then you can really go to town, with all those lovely plants.

I demonstrated how to do this in the free garden design workshop that was shown in March and replayed in April. If you missed it, you can purchase it, for a limited time, at special introductory offer price here.


Rosemoor Garden – Devon, UK

So, as we covered how to design the garden in the last workshop, it’s now your turn to have all your planting questions answered in the upcoming Plant Design Workshop. What is it that you want to know about how to plant your garden?

  • Do you struggle with knowing what plant you should put where?
  • Feel unsure how to combine different colours effectively?
  • Or, perhaps it’s something completely different that you’re really struggling with?

So, to help make sure but I provide you with the most useful information in the new workshop, please let me know what it is you want to know about how to plant a garden.

If you’re on Facebook, ask your planting questions here:, or if you prefer, leave your questions in the comment box below.



About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!


  1. I’m thinking of removing some holly bushes from in front of a porch and replacing
    them with something with more color and 2 feet or less tall.

  2. Yvette Michalska says:

    I am really good (I think! ) at foliage and contrasting shapes and structure. But I don’t know where to start with colour. Are white themes dated? Do u group colours together. I live in a city that is often overcast so do I go for bright and bold? Any “rules” very welcome! Thanks

    • Hi Yvette,

      Extra bonus points to you then if you’ve already thought about plant shape as so few people do. As for white themes, if you like it and it works, then do it! A beautiful garden is never dated in my opinion. In shady areas only lighter colours will show up. Dark blue totally disappears and firey reds don’t tend to grow in shade, so you’re going to be pretty limited with colours, so just as well you like white! Soft yellow and white with lime green can look stunning. Then you can add a bit of blue and silver in areas where there’s more sunlight. I will cover how to combine colours in much more detail in the workshop.

  3. Tarab alhussaini says:

    I would like to know how to combine colors and what plants to grow .

    Thank you

  4. Benjamin Whitacre says:

    I feel like I’ve had success laying out a big garden that looks great in the summer with large drifts of roses, figs, pomegranates, juneberries, clematis, and a wide variety of perennials, herbs and vegetables. Even though I’ve planted some pyramid shaped hollies and boxwoods, I am not very satisfied with the garden in winter. I think this is one of the greatest challenges and it is a common problem, particularly in rose or perennial centered gardens. I don’t know if any rose centered garden can look great in winter, but if there is some way to improve one — of course most rose gardens are very full sun so camillias and lenten roses have limited application. To generalize the question — how do you pick plants that make a garden that is great in all four seasons.

    • Thanks Benjamin, that’s a great question and it’s something I will definitely cover in the Plant Design Workshop. You are right, getting the garden to look good all year is a common problem. I think for your case, I would try to incorporate some more evergreens that will look good with the roses, that can take full sun, like the Californian Lilac (Ceanothus), assuming you’re living somewhere with a mild enough climate for one.

  5. I need a plant selection that can take roadside elements such as roadside wind, salt brine and dust. I was thinking native plants for my area (zone 5) and possibly grasses. The area has been divided into 13 small rock garden areas on a hill and some of the hill is mulched and scattered rock and driftwood.

  6. Annette says:

    I am pretty good at getting some combinations of a few plants to look good together – eg purple clematis growing through variegated forsythia (lovely pale green foliage once the flowers are finished), but I cant seem to get a whole bed of plants to look good together, only one or two plants at a time. Also if one bed does look good for a bit the other beds nearby are not good at the same time.
    So I need help with planting a whole bed that is coherent and has long lasting impact.
    Also some guidance on backbone planting that provides interest and which fits in with the overall look of the whole garden when the main performers in that bed or section are past their peak.

    • Hi Annette,

      Great question, you hit on something that can be difficult to get right but don’t worry, I have some simple solutions that I will show you in the workshop.

  7. My favorite is the orange, yellow ,white combo. I almost didn’t plant any last fall, because I have to spray them with deer repellent, every other day, as they are emerging. I am so glad I did. Now your display makes me wish I planted more.

  8. Hi Rachel,

    I think your website is fantastic. I have always wanted a beautiful garden, I bought the nice plants and never knew why it never looked great – I am now starting to understand where I have been going wrong. We have inherited a rectangular gravel front garden and I was wondering whether there is any guidance/tips on designing an interesting gravel garden? Many thanks and keep up the great work!!

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