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Gardening with a purpose

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Have you considered a new garden on your property? Why not give your backyard purpose with elements that suite your needs, looks good, and increases you and your families quality of life.

Sound like a hard sale? Think again, studies show that being outdoors in a green environment can reduce blood pressure, anxiety and increase happiness. So utilizing outdoor space with a garden that is right for you, whether it be for cooking, attracting wildlife, or a landscape that fits your style we can reduce that disconnection to nature, and bring it to your back door.

Finding your natural state

When trying to decide where to start on your garden, concentrate on personal style, time constraints, style of house, or even hobbies like cooking for herbs and other edible plants to maximize the impact of your space.

Be realistic about your time and budget constraints and include features accordingly, don't pick high maintenance plants if you won't do whats necessary to keep them healthy and looking pristine. A minimalist low maintenance garden can create a place for contemplation, mix edible plants in to create an outdoor kitchen, or create an environment to invite wildlife in, the options are yours depending on what suites you.

Sometimes finding what looks right for you is the hardest part, offering these different styles for reference will allow you to mimic certain styles, or if you decide to incorporate a few styles together using simple tricks like complementing textures and heights will allow you to create a cohesive garden that will immerse you.

So take a look at these examples, don't get too stuck on the styles as a whole but look for traits within that grab your attention and find what you might want to incorporate into your backyard.


Formal Design

Like most landscapes to create a formal design you will work off the structure of your home and property as this is the canvas for your garden. Utilizing the space of your property a focal point and axis needs to be established, imagine a painting on paper, if folded at the axis (crease in paper) both sides should line up perfectly.

Use this photo as an example, let your eyes rest on the fountain and observe the symmetry in the garden effortlessly as you look down the walkway.

Now don't be overwhelmed by the photo itself, there are plenty of designs you can accomplish in your own backyard to create this same effect while keeping some change in your pocket. Instead of using maintenance heavy hedges, you can utilize some beautiful large shrubs and annuals to create the same effect.


Cottage Design

In a Cottage Design you will often find cascading flowers, whimsical perspectives, and features like your white picket fence, and flourishing vines or planters under a window.

Picking your flowers carefully. Something to consider in a cottage garden is to have a variety of flowers to bloom at different times of the year. This will allow you to select the colors you like and place them accordingly to keep a vibrant look as long as possible.

If you are someone who fancies cut flowers or rolling colors year round, cottage techniques like these might be something to consider for your backyard.


Woodland Design

In any woodland garden a canopy is your biggest factor. This canopy sets the tone allowing dappled light in with enough shade for your under-wood to thrive and retain moisture. Deciduous trees are typically what you will find for this setup to allow full sun to shine through the still bare branches and warm the ground early spring to kick start your perennials and other flowering trees, and shrubs.

Notice in the photo above, this tall canopy allows the small tree to the top right to grow freely, pruning is a big part in any landscape but more so in a woodland when you want to allow light through and create space for plants to grow.

If you are someone who enjoys the natural feel of the outdoors, or want to invite wildlife to you backdoor, a woodland garden might be for you.


Zen Garden

A zen garden is a place with manicured plants, decorative structures, and subtle elements like stone raked beds or calming water features. To create this a traditional Japanese rock garden or otherwise known as a "dry landscape" is a big feature in any zen garden.

Incorporating a border whether its a stone wall (shown above) or a shrub border (left) creates a definitive space, this is meant to help clear the mind and focus on whats right in front of you.

LESS IS MORE. Sculptures and boulders coming out of your garden are a nice touch but the negative space is what makes them stand out and look significant.


Now that you've seen some examples of different garden styles, you should have a general idea of what you are looking for. Create your garden using these as a template to help kick start your design.

There are plenty of other styles that are not mentioned here, if your houses architecture is the true art of your property modern is a good route, or perhaps if homegrown fruits and vegetables are your motive installing some raised garden beds with organic compost and trellis's for your climbing vines might be a better route for you.

Whichever style suits you, start with a plan, hire a professional to help create a 2D and 3D digital model to see a visual for the end result, this will allow you to be confident in moving forward. Not everything has to be done at once, most successful landscapes are done in steps, don't be overwhelmed by an entire project, break the design into phases allowing you to build the garden yourself or employ professionals to do the work for you. The options are endless and can change with time, it's why gardening is a lifelong journey.

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