Star Trek Ultimate Edition by *michkelleher on deviantART

The Importance of Space

Space, they tell us is the final frontier. I disagree, at least when it comes to garden design. Space is the FIRST frontier.

When it comes to gardens, people are passionate about plants; they are passionate about garden features. Unfortunately those things are not what make a garden great. They certainly add to a garden’s greatness but they are not the key to it.

What you should be passionate about is space and the use of it. Before you shrug your shoulders, say “hmph” and go back to Twitter, let me tell you why space is THE most important thing you can think about in your garden.

A Whole Lot Of Nothing

The areas of empty space in your garden, like lawn and patios, are exceptionally important to shape correctly to have a great garden. These areas of empty space dictate how the garden is viewed, used and looks.

The Most Common Mistake

Most folks shape the flower borders first and then the lawn is whatever shape is left. Whilst that makes sense logically, practically it’s not the best way to do it. If you shape the empty areas of space first, your main view is then perfectly shaped to lead the eye where you want it to go to make the garden look larger, more interesting and exciting. Rather than a nibbled into with random, incoherent shapes type of lawn.

Resist the Temptation of Things

We all love stuff. We are obsessed with things. Plants and features are wonderful things, so it’s very easy to be seduced by them. Shaping empty space is petty boring in the grand scheme of things but its use is one of those understated givens in a good design.

To give you an example, you may think that the words you see on a page are what makes an article. Whilst that would be a pretty good assumption, there is something as important as the words. Yesyouguesseditspace!Withoutspacethewordsareverydifficulttoreead!

When it comes to gardens, correctly shaping space is even more important to get right than the space between these words.

Your Mission: Live long and create great gardens!

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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!

    4 replies to "The Secret To A Great Garden Is…"

    • […] I retweet my friend Rachel’s garden design posts or comment on her blog, I do it because I’m into garden design, I think she does great work, […]

    • […] get to the crux of it all. The REALLY important part. Those of you who read my ode to Star Trek (the key to a great garden) will be way ahead – it’s space. That’s the important part, or more correctly, […]

    • Anne Wareham

      That is why people should stop suggesting turning lawns to meadows. Meadows are more like a border and fill that function in the garden. Lawns offer space.

      • Rachel Mathews

        That’s true Anne, you certainly do need space and meadows are more like borders. Have you seen the Lawn reform website? They offer lots of ideas for people with limited water availability (not necessary for those of us in the UK at the moment!) that aren’t meadows or traditional lawn. There’s a surprising number of alternatives to normal grass that still give the sense of space – though I’ve no idea how easy they are to keep looking good.

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