Julie A. Martens

Let your creativity loose in your yard by exploring and experimenting with different garden design ideas. Whether you favor the flowery abandon of a cottage garden design, the neatly clipped boxwood hedges typical of English garden design or the relaxing austerity of a Zen rock garden, you can craft an outdoor space that bears your signature.


Look for garden design ideas everywhere you go. You can even spot great gardens running errands. Take pictures if possible, and if you see a gardener hard at work, stop to chat. Most homeowners appreciate hearing kind words about their garden efforts, and you’ll probably glean garden design ideas in the course of conversation.

Also take advantage of local garden tours. By visiting many gardens over the course of a day, you’ll be able to compare and assimilate a plethora of garden designs. Some garden design ideas spring from an effort to solve a landscape problem, and garden tours provide an excellent opportunity to unearth beautifully clever solutions to common landscape issues.

Public gardens provide another great place to learn about garden design. Many gardens offer educational programs that help you hone your garden design skills. If you’re focusing on a specific garden type, such as Japanese gardens or a water garden design, research local gardens, organizations or landscape businesses that specialize in these areas to expand your knowledge base.


Discover Your Garden Style 7 photos

Another place to dig into garden designs in at your local library. Check out books and dvds on garden design. Study the great gardens of Europe if you want to create a formal garden or French garden design in your yard. You’ll find a wealth of material on butterfly gardens, and it’s vital to research this area to ensure you’re filling your garden with plants for both adults and caterpillars.

If your region has been experiencing drought, brush up on the principles of xeriscape design. These low water-use landscapes can be breathtakingly beautiful, and if your city is starting to charge for stormwater runoff, xeriscape designs might also help waive those fees. On the other end of water use, you might want to consider developing a tropical garden design to surround a spa area or pool. Tropical plants thrive on abundant water, and their colorful leaves and flowers make every yard staycation-worthy.

Shady yards frequently stymie their owners who long for colorful plantings besides impatiens. If that’s you, dig into shade garden designs to learn techniques to brighten low light areas, such as planting white- and silver-variegated foliage or using light-toned gravel or pavers for paths.

Many gardeners long for lush perennial borders typical of English garden design. It’s not tough to master the methods behind these beautiful borders, but you will need to do some homework to ensure you select the best plants for your region. You could even combine principles of xeriscape design with perennials to create a low water-use landscape that’s low-maintenance, too.

Above all, as you discover and study garden design ideas, don’t forget that you are allowed to break the rules. That’s one way you can express your signature style. Even the great designers did that at times—and if they could get away it, you can, too.

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