Someone kindly(?) referred to this website as “porn for garden lovers.” As much as l laughed at that, it has made me think; are people just ogling and not actually doing? I want this to be a useful resource where you can come and get the tuition you need (move on from the porn analogy, if you haven’t already).

I thought if I did this website, offered free advice, people would get ideas and they would go off and make their garden* great. But it doesn’t seem like that’s happening.

Why Aren’t More People Designing Their Gardens?

Blog post tutorials are just too passive. As much as people are reporting they are loving this site and all the information provided, they are not going off and putting pencil to paper. The exception are the ones doing the online garden design course.

What’s The Key To Helping People Create Their Dream Garden?

There needs to be a big motivator. I’ve had an idea that could help provide this motivation. It came to me a couple of weeks ago, after I interviewed Anne Wareham for a new feature on inspirational gardens. She has created an amazing garden and isn’t a professional landscaper. So, if she and people like her have created great gardens by studying garden design, it shows what can be achieved when someone puts their mind to it. Trouble is, most people don’t do that.

Where Do You Start With Landscaping Your Garden?

One of the main reasons people don’t do anything with their garden is because they don’t know where to start and get overwhelmed. They don’t know if they should do it themselves or hire a designer. If they do it themselves, they might muck it up. But if they hire a designer, what happens if they don’t like what the designer comes up with? Either option could be an expensive mistake. So maybe a few plants get put in, or the garden just gets left, with a vow to do something one day.

A Perfect Solution?

I think having a ‘roadmap’ to follow would be a big help. One that shows you how to either work with a landscape professional successfully or point you in the right direction on what you need to know to be able to design the garden yourself. But that’s not all. So I’ve set up a course that will guide people through the process and they can show their finished results if they wish. See The Great Garden Formula Home Study Course page for more details.

What’s Your Excuse?

Whatever the reasons are for not having done something great with your garden, tell me what they are. I have a few ideas on what the roadblocks are, but I don’t know what your blocks are. Even if the blocks are something outside of what would be considered a garden problem; tell me.

And if you’d like to see the ‘roadmap’ I’ve created then do come and attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:



Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 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!

    12 replies to "Does it take a carrot or a stick to produce a great garden?"

    • Scott Hokunson


      This is an interesting and ambitious project. I can’t wait to see how it progresses. Kudos to you for opening up Garden Design to the masses!
      .-= Scott Hokunson´s last blog ..Foliage Friday! =-.

    • Stacey

      Rachel, this is a brilliant idea. I have a big area that I’ve been working on, and I could use some help.

      Landscape design books and magazines don’t cut it. I think I’m too process-oriented to cope with that format.

      Count me in!
      .-= Stacey´s last blog ..The truth about self-doubt =-.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Thanks Scott, I think it will be fun to do. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people do with their gardens.

      Stacey, thanks. Glad you are on board. The Garden Roadmap will be a step-by-step guide on what processes you need to do, either working with a landscape pro or what you need to learn in order to do it yourself.

      The great thing about this is, the more people that get involved, the more helpful information will amass. I’m very excited to see so many sign ups and interest.

    • Sherice Jacob

      What a terrific idea for a contest! Even someone like me with a “black thumb” could really get into this. Having a roadmap to follow would help me tremendously.
      .-= Sherice Jacob´s last blog ..Best Practices in Web Design – Courtesy of Yahoo? =-.

    • Iain Gray

      Great idea – now if only I had a garden I could lanscape! 🙂
      .-= Iain Gray´s last blog ..What A 200-Year Old Mill Owner Can Teach You About Pricing =-.

    • Eileen

      This is a great idea. I have a small property and am pretty well planted out. However, I will certainly keep track of this. I can always use new ideas.


    • Kathleen K. O'Connor

      I am nomadic right now (and living in a desert) so it’s not practical to set up a garden, but I have been dying to do it for years. I’d like to finally get started when I stop moving around so much. Since I have NEVER set up a garden in my life (just watched my mom do it when I was younger), I am nervous about the whole idea and feel overwhelmed, but having an accountability group would certainly be very helpful and motivating. It would be very fun to see what people from all over the world come up with! I am the person who always talks and talks about how she wants plants, a vegetable garden, flowers, and herbs, but never does anything about it. I hope I can join this group next spring when I am living in Japan!
      .-= Kathleen K. O’Connor´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Sounds like this will be the perfect group for you to be part of. I intend to have it run for as many years as possible so you can opt in when you are more settled and ready to take on the challenge of a garden.

    • Big ideas for tiny gardens

      […] all the excitement of last week’s Great Garden Challenge, this week we are coming back to looking at the more practical aspects of garden (yard) […]

    • Diana

      Love the contest idea – it’s always fun to see new designs and how others interpret space and have vision. I am a freelance designer and think this would be fun.
      .-= Diana´s last blog ..Signs of Spring keep popping out… =-.

    • Jenny

      I read all your articles with great interest. This is a great idea. I’m not sure I will have a before and after because we have been at it for 9 years and almost finished with the design, but it will be fun to see what others do. However I have learnt one thing- go out and measure. That is exactly what I am going to do with one small area which we plan to redo. Our local garden bloggers will be coming over to put forth their suggestions. It’s called design a go go, the brain wave of one of our large group of garden bloggers. The important thing is I will have an exact plan for them to sketch their ideas on thanks to your little video on measuring the Spanish courtyard. Thank you.
      .-= Jenny´s last blog ..A NEW WATER FEATURE =-.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Thanks Jenny. I like the sound of your design a go go group. I wonder if we can create a similar thing with the Great Garden Challenge? Mmm I will put my thinking cap on. It’s always really valuable to have suggestions from other people, a fresh set of eyes can really help.

      Do still join in, even though your garden is more or less there, I’m sure people will learn a lot from seeing what you’ve already achieved as well as watching what you do with the small area.

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