Landscape Self Design & The Elements of Design (article preceded by book list). Last edited: Tuesday, June 23, 2015. I hope to see you at the Plant Sale in June.

To design your own landscape I suggest taking a good long look at the subject. Start first by getting the books in my book list (I have them all if you have problems finding them)

"The Book of Garden Design" by John Brookes, MacMillen Publishers

"Garden Design Workbook" by John Brookes, DK books,

"A Handbook for Garden Designers' by Rosemary Alexander, Ward Lock

'On Gardening' by Penelope Hobhouse

'The Garden Planner' by Robin Williams, Barron's 1990, ISBN 0-8120-6155-1

'Garden Paths' by Gordon Hayward, Camden House Publishing 1993, ISBN 1-55209-101-5

Find these two books by Julia Moir Meservy; "Contemplative Gardens" and "The Inward Garden" my copies are gone (borrowed and not returned).

"The Front Porch" by Ann Rooney Heuer, Metro Books 2002, (remember that your porch is part of the Landscape design).

Then look up Forest+Garden+Hart on the internet. Then read my Sustainable article.

Next, take a survey of your property and have it blown up to Dining table size at KINKO's.

Read Elements of Garden Design.

Foundation plantings should create a transition between a building and the land it is on while conveying an air of permanence and a feeling of welcome to visitors.

Symetry or the lack thereof may be reflected in the formality or informality of the plantings.

Tall and narrow accentuates height.

low growing plants accentuate horizontal lines.

an end to the horizontal line of a house can be provided by locating a tall conifer at the end corner.

Avoid the look of skirting.

What to take into account about a client or yourself before starting a design.

Some people find it hard to change what is already there. They can create a garden by augmenting the features they find most attractive. Plant more of what you have and place a garden bench in a nice observation spot.

Some completely destroy what is already there but then create beautifully handcrafted gardens.

Others are mind gardeners. The land seems to speak to them telling them how it should be. Your garden is more like a studio. You have many projects only half finished but are nevertheless satisfied because you can see in your head how they will turn out.

Most people are a combination of several types.

An Image is a mental picture formed when we experience certain tastes, sounds, smells, sights or the touch of something that reminds us of an important past event (Deja vu). These mental pictures can be used to inspire the design of a garden that feels special..

In my garden in spring with the crocuses and bulbs blooming I remember my mother planting them and it is as though she is there.

A walk in the forest creates the Image of dappled shade, the sensation of coolness and the related feeling of contentment. Several trees creating dappled shade along a trail in the garden recreates this.

Certain images that were first created during childhood become the basis for universal analytical comparisons with landscape features seen during our adult lives.

A wonderful book that introduces us to this method of garden analysis is The Inward Garden by Julie Moire Messervy published by Little, Brown and Co, Boston 1995.

The design process is a pleasant resolution between site analysis and the clients ideas.

The clients ideas can sometimes be determined by asking the right questions.

What sort of garden do you want?

How are you going to use the garden? Relaxing? Playing games? Gardening? Raised beds to ease backs?

When will it be used? How do you feel about weeding? mowing? Ball games? Will young children use the garden? Favorite plants?

The Design process considers what is possible to achieve and how many, possibly incompatible ideas, can be retained.

The design must please the eyes and functionally fulfill its purpose.

Elements of Garden Design


A garden blends in well with the house and surrounding terrain when the materials used in the walls and steps in the garden match those used for the house.


Different shapes produce different moods and promote movement from one part of the garden to another.

Vertical Elements

Tall vertical elements that cannot be seen beyond including; plants, walls or fences for large spaces or at eye level when sitting.


Elongation of an area like an elliptical or rectangular shaped space, lawn or path, broad; where movement should be slow, narrow paths with tall vertical elements; where movement should be rapid.


Different colors, when not influenced by what is in back of them, may be used to alter perspective. Hot colors (red or yellow) may seem nearer and cool colors (blue or gray), farther away.

Sometimes confusion is created by error

Colors may cause confusion when in contrast caused by direct competition between the color of building materials of the house with those of the garden.

Colors may cause confusion when in contrast caused by direct competition between the color of materials for fences, walls, mulch or paths in the garden with others also in the garden.

The difference in color between new and old materials may cause confusion.

The texture of the vertical elements that compose the garden structure;

1. evergreen conifers or masses of herbaceous perennials can draw attention

2. a picket fence emphasizes it's vertical lines, horizontal lines of cement in a brick wall emphasizes horizontal lines.

Surfaces that are regular smooth or neat add to feelings of formality

Overgrown, irregular and rough to informality

contrasting textures can create dramatic effects

New Homes

real estate developers are not known for Environmental sensitivity. You may have noticed they think its not cost effective to preserve natural features of landscape slated for development.

The norm has been the removal of all top soil and then cover subsoil with a thin layer of sand on which lawn grass is grown but when natural features are retained significant dollars are saved in landscaping and maintenence.

If you want to talk more about this invite me to share in your self garden designing exercise. I'll write it up with pictures for my Newsletter.

Call 518-765-2574 and leave a message. Name, phone number, what your calling about. I will get back to you. You probably will want to talk about how Old Roses and Lilacs together with Antique Apple Trees can be worked into your design process.

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