When designing your garden, start by asking yourself, “What do I want?” It seems obvious, yet it’s easy to forget to focus and, instead, be blinded by what you’ve got— a square yard, shed, pond—but this will never lead you to plan your dream garden.
Ask yourself some questions. Do you live alone, with a partner, or do you have a family? How old are the kids? Do you have pets? Do you like to party or prefer quiet meals with friends? Gradually, a picture of your lifestyle will begin to emerge. It’s only at this point that you can begin the design process for your outdoor space.
Buy a notebook and jot down everything you love. Your idea of heaven could be an outdoor dining room edged with fragrant flowers, or a jungle of lush foliage set around a tranquil pool. Include on your list things that make you happy: dancing till dawn, cafés in Paris, walks in the park, lying on a sun-drenched beach, quiet nights at home by an open fire—whatever makes you feel good. Then ask the other members of your household to do the same, and combine your lists. Don’t be hampered by what you know is going to be possible, and pretend you have the luxury of a limitless budget, an ideal site, and perfect climate. You may have to temper your ideas later on, but at least you’ll have the essence of your dream outdoor space.
Once you have what you want, make a list of what you need. Take time to compile this, and make sure you miss nothing. It can be difficult—and more expensive—to include sheds or a place for the garbage cans once the plan is finished and building work complete, so make sure everything you need in your garden is listed before you start drawing.