Garden design principles

Wed. Dec. 19, 2018

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Garden Design Principles

Aside from plant diagnostics, Garden Design probably gives more folks a nervous tick.  It doesn’t have to be that way. As we nestle in for Winter and ponder our landscapes, I thought I’d share, once again, Andrew Sankey’s 10 principles of design. 

Many years ago Andrew spoke at the MN Landscape Arboretum.  He is a lovely man and a wonderful speaker!  

  1. Don’t fight nature.  Work with what you have, don’t be too quick to rip out existing trees or shrubs because they don’t look exactly like you want.  Instead, consider cleaning them up, shaping them and creating a garden that incorporates them. Work with the soil you have. You’ll never have sandy soil if you live in a clay zone.  Yes, it’s a good idea to add peat moss and compost to help fluff your soil, but odds of you creating a whole new soil structure are slim.

2. Retain the main features. If you’ve got walls or structures, leave them be unless they’re unsightly, you may find a place for them in your design.  Maybe the previous owner left an elaborate trellis behind, give it a good cleaning, maybe spray paint it or stain it and see you what you might do with it. The main point is to make garden design fun and as easy as possible. You’re the one that will most likely be doing the work and caring for your garden, you want it to be as enjoyable as possible.  

that fence isn’t going anywhere!

3. Keep it simple. A few good sweeps of color really pop. You can choose different types of flowers but keep the same color hue. Simple designs are the best way to start out.

Part of Andrew’s garden

4. Keep things in scale. If you have a large area, then plant a tree that’s large at maturity. Likewise, small areas need proper proportion, remember to choose plants with the knowledge of their size at maturity.  There are loads of choices out there for the small garden including crabapples and small shrubs.

Oh so MANY things wrong with the above landscape!  The large tree is too large and too close… the shrubs at the foundation are too close…  everything is TOO CLOSE!

Stay tuned for more of Andrew’s 10 Design Principles!