I have just been involved in showing my work at a Design showcase in Petersfield put together by the South East Design Forum. The brief for the show was to illustrate how design had added value to a project.  Looking through the plan & photographs of the scheme I chose to exhibit, I could identify all the different elements which were used to make an attractive space for my clients to enjoy.  And that’s is the difference between a garden that has been thought out and planned in advance as opposed to one which has simply evolved over time without any real focus.

Here are just some of the key elements I incorporate into my designs to get the best out of a space and to maximise its interest all year round:

The use of a strong design, and bold lines. Less really is more.  If the layout is simple, the plants and the hard landscaping can be seen to best effect.

Strong curves & block planting of Iris at Bryan’s Ground, Herefordshire

The appropriate choice of materials & the way they are used to complement the setting & architecture rather than fighting with them and looking out of place.

Creating intimate spaces (by dividing a larger space or just creating little nooks & crannies for somewhere cosy to sit at different times of the day).


Restraint – keep the number of materials, plant varieties and colours used to a minimum (and this is especially important in a small space).

Repetition  – of materials, plants, colours, shapes, to increase their impact.

Salvia & white Alliums repeated in groups

Fragrant planting – especially effective when used by pathways and seating areas (and not just in summer).

Thyme planted next to a path gives off a lovely scent when stepped on

Movement – this is where grasses in particular come into their own as they add an extra dimension to planting schemes. Many other plants (willows, bamboos, phormiums) will also give the same effect.


Reflections from water – enjoy attractive features twice! Carefully position specimen plants and statues.

Incorporating sound into the garden – this could be from rustling plants such as bamboo, or the inclusion of running water

Texture – using contrasting textures of hard landscaping (such as pebbles, next to smooth stone) or planting (soft grasses next to clipped hedging) will add visual interest to a scheme

Pebbles & smooth black limestone create an interesting contrast in texture

Create interesting views within the garden and framing views outside garden too – assuming  there’s something of merit to see!

There are many other ways to make a garden an interesting and comfortable place to spend time, and these are just a sample.  If you would like to talk about having your own garden designed by a professional, please get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.