One of the great things about landscape design is the flexibility it offers. You can make it very simple and get your feet wet so to speak. Later, you can re-do the area, or do another area in a more complex design as you gain more knowledge. It’s easy to get started, but you can never run out of things to try. Master designers who have been at the practice for years are still learning and experimenting!
Start with the basics. Consider the areas where you want shrubs, flowers, trees, walkways, a complete garden, a pond, a brick wall and so forth. Don’t feel overwhelmed, though. Keep your first efforts simple and easy to execute. Work your way up.
After you have a basic mental image, make some sketches. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw like an artist. All you need are some rough shapes, a few simple circles, triangles or rectangles in order to lay out an approximate area. If you want to graduate to the next stage early, consider some landscape design software.
Consider what will go best into the areas you’ve penciled out. You may have envisioned a rectangular garden near one wall of the house, for example. Make some preliminary measurements, then consider which plants should go where within the space. One design could call for taller flowers in back, with shorter ones in the middle, and ground cover in front and between. That keeps everything visible to viewers standing in front.
Just because the area is rectangular, though, you needn’t limit yourself to smaller rows or rectangles within. You could, for example, place a birdbath in the center. That small circle could form the hub of spokes radiating outward in a sun pattern. Those spokes could be formed by bricks, dividing the rectangle into a series of triangles of different shapes and sizes.
You could then have different plants in different triangles – cherry tomatoes in one area, foxgloves in another, thyme over here, chives over there, yarrow in front, tansy in the back.
Observe that the example has not only an arrangement that varies the space in a visually interesting way, but allows each plant to be seen differently from different angles. On each of the three sides, the viewer gets a very different look.
Varying the color arrangements adds yet another level of complexity and delight to an already interesting design. Bright yellow tansy can be a nice contrast to pink foxgloves. Chives, with their thin green stalks and pale lavender flowers provides additional variety.
The number of possible design variations is limitless. You may have a kidney-shaped area to fill, or simply want to line a short, white picket fence with some pleasant shrubs. You may want to have a shade tree in the center of the yard, with irises poking up along the side of the house.
While you shape and contour your outdoor living area, let your imagination grow wild.