Garden Design Examples

Whether you are adding a garden to a new house or updating an existing yard, creating a garden design plan is a good idea. The process helps you prioritize your top features, figure out what fits in your space, and try out various concepts. Even if you aren’t a professional landscape designer, a plan is useful to help you communicate your vision to others and gather their input. Here’s a round-up of the typical elements in a garden design. As you review garden design layout ideas, consider which of these are the most important to you.

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Grass and Lawns

Grasses can include varieties to walk and play on and ornamental grasses that provide height and texture. It’s important to note that most grass lawns require mowing and plenty of water, so they aren’t ideal in dry climates or if your goal is a low-maintenance yard.

Plants and Flowers

Plants and flowers include shrubs, succulents, vegetables and herbs, and flower beds. These elements add visual interest to a garden through various heights, textures, and colors, as well as provide a habitat for wildlife. Plus, if you add vegetables and herbs, you can benefit from fresh-picked produce right from your garden.

Trees

Adding trees to your landscape provides many benefits. They provide shade and, if planted near a house, can lower air conditioning costs. Fruit trees offer lovely sweet treats for your family (and possibly your neighbors when you have a bumper crop!) Trees can provide privacy and also support wildlife. Some things to consider are how close to your home to place a tree (watch out for trees with large roots) and whether you want Evergreen trees (that keep their leaves all year) vs. Deciduous (that lose their leaves each year), or a combination.

Walkways and Paths

Walkways provide beauty, structure, and function - allowing you to access portions of the garden without trampling plants. Common materials include poured concrete or concrete pavers, brick, gravel, flagstone, wood, and stepping stones.

Walls and Fences

It’s typical in many areas for property owners to install a fence or wall around the property line. If you have a sloped property, you may want retaining walls for portions of your garden. Low walls can be designed as seating, such as a curved wall/bench near a fire pit. You can use fences as a way to mark a garden area (such as a border around a vegetable garden or chicken coop). Typical wall and fence materials include wood, wire, or masonry walls, made from stucco, brick, concrete, stone, or block.

Patios, Decks, and Porches

With the latest trends toward outdoor living and entertaining, decks, porches, and patios are quite popular. But what are the differences?

  • Patios are usually flush, or even with, the surrounding ground. Common patio materials are poured concrete or stone. Patios generally require minimal upkeep, and in most areas, no permit is necessary to build one.
  • Decks are generally raised, often made of natural or synthetic wood, and may require a building permit since they are considered a structure. They work well when you want a higher platform to make the most of a view or have uneven land at the planned location for the deck platform.
  • Porches are a covered platform that is attached to a structure. You’ll often see a porch at the entrance and exit to a house.

Shade Structures

along with trees for shade, a backyard plan may include man-made shade structures. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular options:

  • A patio cover is a shade structure attached to a house or building.
  • A pergola is a freestanding structure with an open or partial roof, but pergola and patio cover are interchangeable in some areas.
  • A freestanding structure with a full roof is often called a pavilion or ramada.
  • A gazebo is an octagonal-shaped free-standing structure, also usually with a complete roof.
  • An arbor is a smaller structure designed for plants to grow over. Arbors are generally placed over a path to define an entrance into another area of the garden.

Outdoor Seating and Dining

If you are planning on an outdoor entertaining or dining area, it’s a good idea to sketch it out as part of the garden plan. For example, if you plan to purchase standalone furniture, you’ll want to make sure your patio area is the correct size for the set you’ve picked. Or you may desire permanent structures such as built-in benches or outdoor kitchens that are definitely part of the garden plan.

Hardscape

Hardscape is elements in the garden plan that are solid and unchanging. Along with the hardscape items mentioned above, this could also include water features, fire pits or built-in heaters, gravel and stones, driveways, swimming pools, and sports courts such as tennis or basketball.

Outdoor Buildings

To maximize living and working space, homeowners may add sheds, cottages, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), barns, or pool houses.

Along with creating your dream garden list, collect pictures and layouts that also show your vision. If you aren’t a garden expert, it’s a good idea to share your ideas with a garden professional. A landscape designer will understand the factors that affect a garden, such as soil quality, climate, drainage, maintenance, and permit requirements to name a few. They can help transform a garden plan into a detailed site plan, and may be able to recommend contractors and nurseries where you can source plants. Soon you’ll be well on your way to creating your dream garden.

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