What makes for good garden design? It’s such a subjective topic…although one should not ignore strong technical elements. Consumer garden needs are always changing which means that the ‘design sands are always shifting’. Here are just a few thoughts on what is needed to make a good garden great….writes guest blogger Philip Voice.

I am not too sure that any single aspect of a garden’s design makes any particular garden great.

Sure, there are elements that a garden designer should be keen to retain, manipulate or work with when fashioning any space to suit the needs of the client, but nothing should ever be so rigid as to hold back on expression. An experienced garden designer will use instinct and experience: experienced design development is not even a conscious effort.

Working with your natural landscape

The existing lie of the land must always be a strong consideration – especially if the garden is large enough to retain natural slopes and contours: aspect and light must be used and I think that the very best of garden design occurs when the designer’s instinct comes before contrivance – the latter is only relied on when other aspects of the design won’t fall into place naturally.

Creative collaboration

Maybe the very best of garden designers can pour emotion into the space that they are designing? Many designers will ask a client for a list of their requirements…others can introduce elements based on what life is being lived around the environment the garden is to be created in.

Philip Voice is a life long professional gardener turned blogger and the author of Landscape Juice and founder of the professional industry site, the Landscape Juice Network. I hope you’ll take a look at his wonderful websites and forum which celebrated getting 1000 members last week!

If you are wondering why Philip didn’t mention plants making a garden great, then this blog post on cake will explain why!

What are your thoughts on what makes a garden great? Let me know in your comments. 

And if you are ready to design your first garden by yourself, don’t forget to check out our online garden courses.

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    4 replies to "What makes a great garden?"

    • Iain Gray

      Personally, I’d say love, care + character make a great garden, but I speak as an enthusiastic amateur gardener, not as a designer.

      From my experience of gardens that have been “designed”, I think that having the element of surprise, or a secret place is what transforms a garden from nice to magical.
      .-= Iain Gray´s last blog ..How To Do Free Market Research (Without Leaving Your Seat) =-.

    • Alison Kerr

      I love the idea of a “secret place” in a landscape. Beyond that, I think the elements of the garden landscape need to flow together and to fit the surroundings.

      A garden in Kansas should look different from a garden in England or Italy; it should say something about where the garden is and what is special about that location. Incorporating local materials for the hard landscaping and native plants to bring local butterflies and birds both help.

      I’m really excited about the garden landscape Rachel helped me to design through her Beginner’s Design course. I’m going to have lots of local rock and plants. I’m itching to get started!
      .-= Alison Kerr´s last blog ..Garden Friends in February =-.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Iain and Alison you make good points about having a surprise element or hidden part of a garden – it all adds to the magic.

      Alison, you are lucky to live in an area where you can use natural local materials. Perhaps I need to learn to love chalk more – seems to be an abundance on the outskirts of Cambridge!

      I can’t wait to see your garden transform (especially having had a sneak peak of Alison’s design). Keep us posted on your progress.

    • vona

      Seeing as how secret garden is one of my favorite books ever. i would love a little secret spot in my garden one day. i love gardens with useful plants like herbs and spices and flowers etc.

      Oh yeah, it has to have a tree. preferably a fruit tree.

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