Does Your Garden Design Have to Match Your House?
If you live in a Victorian cottage, does your garden design have to be all roses and sweet peas? Does 21st-century architecture call for sleek grounds with nary a messy tangle of geraniums?
Well, there are certainly some house and garden combinations that might appear jarring at first, and a few design rules it might be better to follow, but from there it’s pretty much a matter of personal taste. From where we sit, if what you want around you will make you happy, then go for it and let your creative spirit fly.
No Matter the Style, Make Sure It’s Alive and Healthy
The one thing that there’s really no debate about is that no matter what style your house is, your lawn (if you have one) should be healthy and green. To leave yourself free to create the flowering garden of your dreams, consider using a professional lawn care service like TruGreen Canada.
With lawn chores off your to-do list, take a look at some general guidelines that will help you plan your garden, no matter what style you’ve got in mind.
Climate and Garden Zone
The best plans will go awry if what you’d love to see growing in your garden won’t survive in your part of the world. So the first step in deciding what style of garden to plant is to do some research.
You may have to revise your plans to accommodate reality, but you still might find some reasonable alternatives to what you originally had in mind. New varieties adapted to non-native environments are always being developed, though it’s not likely you’ll find a banana tree that will grow in Calgary.
Good nurseries in your community should only carry plants that thrive locally, but be careful if you’re buying plants and seeds online. Don’t get carried away by some exotic bloom that will wither as soon as you put it in the ground.
Style aside, decide what you want to be able to do in your garden. Do you want a comfortable space for entertaining? A children’s play area? Somewhere you can retreat into your own private world? An area to grow herbs or vegetables? Also consider if your dog will have free access and what that will mean for fragile plantings that aren’t raised or fenced. A garden should be beautiful but don’t forget to be practical, too.
Scale and Proportion
Regardless of the kind of garden you’re planting, you don’t want its scale to be dwarfed by your house, and conversely, you don’t want it to swallow your yard, either. Choose plants that will have impact without being overpowering. And remember that plants will grow. It takes patience to wait for something to reach its full height or width and give the effect you want, but better to wait than plant something you’re going to have to fight with forever because you put it where it didn’t have growing room.
As for architectural elements of the garden, like walls, arbors, walkways, steps, and so on, there are basic design rules of proportion that date back to antiquity and have stood the test of time in creating spaces that are pleasing to the eye.
One is the Golden Ratio, a formula of length to width, which appears in everything from the pyramids at Giza to some patterns in nature, like the spiral pattern of leaves. Related to the Golden Ratio is the Golden Rectangle with a ratio of about 1 to 1.6, which would translate, for example, into a raised bed measuring 5 by 8 feet.
Part of the pleasure of a garden is being able to see it from inside your house. When you’re planning, take some time to consider the view from your windows. Also take into consideration whether a plant that’s going to grow tall will block those views.
Plan Large to Small
In order of size, plan where you’re going to put trees, shrubs, and perennials. After that, because you can change them every year, decide where you can place annuals. Following the rule of putting all of your large plants in the back and graduating to smaller ones as you get to the front can be boring, so mix it up a bit.
You may have so many favorite flowers that you’re tempted to plant just a few of each so you’ve got room for them all, and that can certainly create a joyous jumble, but there’s also something to be said for including a sweeping swath of one variety that delights the eye.
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
Article by Angie Olsen
Featured Image: By BodnantGarden – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, source
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