The 5 Garden Design Mistakes People Make – and How to Avoid Them

It is so easy to go wrong by making basic garden design mistakes when planning your outdoor space. Before you start, always take a step back and take a big picture. Take a look at our guide to modern garden design ideas if you need design inspiration before you get started.

One of the most important things is to tie the garden to the style of the house and its interior. Think about the flow and connection of spaces. To Andrew Duff of the Inchbald School of Design: “Treating the house and the garden as two separate elements is one of the most common mistakes in garden design. You have to create a relationship using the architecture of the house to influence the garden. ‘

Also look at the big picture taking into account the climate and conditions in which you live. To be realistic. Do not try to force the plants into an environment where they cannot thrive. “If you see holiday plants that you love, such as bougainvillea or stephanotis, don’t assume they will grow well in the UK climate,” says Charlotte Rowe, RHS Gold Medal-winning garden designer . “Make sure you understand where certain plants grow. The hard landscaping must also be appropriate for the location. Recycled industrial concrete probably won’t cut it for a Georgian townhouse garden.

Plants should take center stage. “Basically, gardens are about plants and while the ‘accessories’ have changed over the years, plants are still the stars,” says award-winning garden designer Kate Gould. ‘Refine a palette and do your research. A happy garden is a garden that has the right plant for the right place. ‘

Read on to find out what are the 5 most common mistakes …

Mistake 1: Trying to crowd too much

Charlotte rowe

Don’t try to put everything in place, ”says gardener Charlotte Rowe

(Image credit: Charlotte Rowe)

This is one of the most obvious garden design mistakes. We go minimalist with our interiors but throw the kitchen sink into the garden. But the trick is to keep it simple – in all things. When it comes to materials, surfaces, colors and style, clean up.

“Don’t try to fit everything in,” says gardener Charlotte Rowe. “People are trying to squeeze too much into their gardens. Two hard landscaping materials or surfaces are sufficient. And be very careful when using color in your landscaping, as you must allow the color of the planting to “sing” and not be fought. Less is more. ‘

The same goes for plants too. In order for a garden to look and feel natural, you need to think about planting a variety of plants in different sizes and arranging them in repeated patterns rather than going for the “one of all” planting style. Wrapping plants can give you an instant garden, but as they grow you will need to reposition them or even remove them when your plot turns into a jungle.

Two hard landscaping materials or surfaces are sufficient

Charlotte rowe

Mistake 2: strive for perfection

garden design with a water feature

“We are always on the lookout for materials that will age gracefully,” says Adolfo Harrison

(Image credit: Adolfo Harrison)

Another common mistake is to design something perfect and expect it to stay that way. When a perfect planting and pristine surfaces start to require constant maintenance to keep them true to your original pattern, it can be overwhelming.

“When you consider that even the hardest materials have a certain degree of porosity and are continually exposed to the elements, you realize that this is an impossible request,” says gardener Adolfo Harrison. “A wall coated with white in this country will not stay white for long.”

Always ask what is the expected life of a material and how it should be maintained. Better yet, accept the imperfection and design it. “We are always looking for materials that will age gracefully,” says Adolfo, “so that the garden of tomorrow will be even better than the garden of today. Keep this in mind and plan for the long term, creating a garden that you can enjoy for years to come.

Mistake 3: Throw It All Out

Lucy conochie

“If you’re lucky enough to inherit something old and interesting like Yorkstone slabs, try incorporating them into your new design,” says Lucy Conochie.

(Image credit: Lucy Conochie)

Want to create a blank canvas from scratch? You’re not alone. People often assume that they need to remove all existing shrubs and items, replace them with something new, and start all over again.

Do not rush. It can be tempting to get rid of established trees, but they add maturity to a garden and can easily be incorporated into a new design. Likewise, removing or harshly pruning mature shrubs can expose a garden that previously felt isolated.

Often, existing materials can also be reused. “Even the most unsightly concrete patio can be shattered and turned into a structure that can serve as the basis for a new path,” says garden designer Lucy Conochie. “If you’re lucky enough to inherit something old and interesting like Yorkstone slabs, try incorporating them into your new design. »Take advantage of the spaces between the old slabs and choose the right flowers to make a free-form green patio.

Mistake 4: don’t go too far to create an impact plantation

Tom massey

“A common mistake is to undersize planters,” says Tom Massey

(Image credit: Tom Massey)

Thin flower beds bordering a lawn and a pot of randomly sized containers will never cut it. Instead, a few modern raised beds are a great way to add height and interest to your garden. Think about what you hope to achieve and what types of plants you want in your planter before deciding on the size and specifications.

‘A common mistake is to undersize planters,’ says garden designer and BBC Your garden made perfect favorite Tom Massey. “If they’re too small or too shallow, the soil will dry out quickly and won’t support the plants in it. »In terms of size, a depth of 300mm should be a minimum for small plants and shrubs. For larger plants or trees you would need 600mm or more. If you plan to include mature trees or shrubs, check the size of the clods to make sure they will fit.

“The other consideration is creating impact,” adds Tom. “If the planters are too small, you won’t be able to put enough plants in them to get rhythm and flow to the system. The choice of material is also important. Corten steel is good because it rusts to an attractive dark orange brown. ‘

“If the planters are too small, you won’t be able to put enough plants in them to get rhythm and flow to the system.

Tom massey

Mistake 5: Missing a wow factor moment

Bowles and Wyer garden sculpture

“Sculpture in the design of gardens is often overlooked, but it is a unique form that interacts with both the viewer and the landscape,” says John Wyer

(Image credit: Bowles and Wyer / Steven Wooster)

So many people end up playing it safe. Retaining the lawn rectangle, cut back on plantings in the hopes of creating a low-maintenance design, leaving too much “creative” space when you don’t know what to fill it with. You really want a complete overhaul but end up keeping too many features to make a meaningful change.

Instead, include something in your design that stops people in their tracks. When it comes to framing a view, it can be as simple as directing your gaze to an elegant raised seating area, an eye-catching architectural planting combination, or a fabulous piece of sculpture.

“We can all remember a time in our past when, wandering through a landscape, we were stopped dead by a sculpture,” says gardener John Wyer. “This moment of surprise, then of attention and reflection. Sculpture in garden design is often overlooked, but it is a unique form that interacts with both the viewer and the landscape.

Whether you start with design or sculpture, it should be something very personal to you. In doing so, he is also likely to make the greatest impression on others. And that’s what will give your garden real appeal.

For easy ways to add a statement design and practical to your outdoor space, check out our guide to the best patio furniture and combine form and function.

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