Garden Design Advice from a Pro

One of the best things about the home and garden shows held each year is for the price of admission you can get some great garden design advice from the pros. Friday night, I sat in on two talks. Here are three takeaways from a great talk on design from Don Engebretson, garden designer, stone guru and author, who is creator of the website, the Renegade Gardener.

This shady patio is big enough for a table, seating, even some pretty containers.

This shady patio is big enough for a table, seating, even some pretty containers.

Don’t downsize your patio. The single best investment a home owner can make in their landscape is to put in a patio. However, too many builders think a 10 by 10 cement pad counts as a patio. For a patio to be really useful — for it to have room for a table and some chairs, maybe some auxiliary seating, your grill and a few containers of herbs or flowers — it needs to be at least 300 square feet, maybe 350, according to Don. If you can afford them, stone or permeable pavers are attractive patio floors.

In this landscape, the grass flows like a river between the front and back yards.

In this landscape, the grass flows like a river between the front and back yards.

Think of lawn as water. Unless you need a big yard for children’s play, view the lawn portion of your yard as you would a lake or pond, Don says. Surround the lawn with beds filled with interesting forms, shapes and textures from trees, shrubs and perennials.

These plants looked a little far apart when first planted, but look below to see the garden two years later.

These plants looked a little far apart when first planted, but look below to see the garden less than three years later.

For new plantings, let it look sparse. When you finish replanting a bed or border, it should look a bit bare. It will take time for plants—especially shrubs and trees—to reach their full size. Let it look sparse for the first year or two. You will be shocked by how great your landscape looks in year three and beyond. Crowding your landscape with too many plants just means you’ve wasted money and you’ll be pruning and shearing before you have to.

 

garden filled out

For more great garden design advice from Don, check out the design tab of his website.

Share