Landscape Conceptual Design: Your Basic Guide to Your Dream Garden

23 April 2020

Gardens represent the personal aesthetic of the homeowner with consideration to the exterior environment. The very idea that there is one way to create a garden seems almost insane. And the range of prescriptions about how it should be done—from conventional wisdom such as planting tall plants in the back of the border and short ones in front, to the ironclad strictures of codes, covenants, and restrictions—will stir the rebel impulse in any creative soul. However, here is a basic guide to your dream garden.

Regulating Line

The idea is that an element of architecture example, a doorway, or a building edge, even a window mullion or a distinctive landscape feature – prominent tree, existing pool, property boundary can “generate” an imaginary line that helps connect and organise the design. The result is orderly and cohesive, even after being softened with planting. A regulating line confers on the work the quality of rhythm. The choice of a regulating line fixes the fundamental geometry of the work on your landscape.


Certain rules help refine design. One is the Golden Ratio which is a ratio of proportion that’s been observed in everything from the Great Pyramids at Giza to the Greek Parthenon and has been used throughout history as a guide to a pleasing sense of balance and order. Its counterpart in landscape design is the rectangle ratio. Rectangle ratio is close to 1: 1.6, a proportion regularly used to lay out terraces, patios, arbours, and lawns. .


A final rule related to scale and the sculpting of space is this: Go big. Faced with a decision to make a staircase wider or narrower, a pool longer or shorter, a pergola higher or lower, the answer is almost always the former.


It’s with plants, probably more than any other element of gardens, that the infinite variation and fickleness of nature is most evident—and so perhaps, they are the trickiest to prescribe rules for. And yet, successful planting is the crowning touch of a garden.

First, is to plant big to small: start with trees, then shrubs, then perennials, then ground cover. This is important not only in a compositional way (seeing the bigger forms first gives a better sense of the overall structure), but in a completely practical sense. Setting a big tree may require machinery or at least multiple gardeners and ample space for manoeuvring and stationing amendments and soils; it would be sad to damage or undo some newly planted bed. This seems so obvious, but for lots of gardeners (the author included) a block of fresh perennials may be impossible to avoid planting right away. Be strong; resist the temptation.

While there is much to be said for the cottage garden, with a rich array of varied planting (indeed, it’s the real master gardener who can pull this off), there is a power to seeing a quantity of one plant that is genuinely affecting.

Entrust your landscaping project to Mark Browning Landscape Design. We are ready to help you with your landscaping projects. Contact us to know more about landscaping and if you want to transform your backyard into something relaxing and refreshing.


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