One of the trickiest decisions many of my clients have to make is choosing their garden design ‘style’. There is a rich tapestry of garden styles influences and history, both from the UK and abroad, which leaves one spoilt for choice when deciding on the theme of your garden. New technologies and materials mean that it is now possible to sculpt your garden in many different ways and garden design is becoming as diverse as interior design has been for years.
Work out what you want from your garden
Moodboards are a great starting point. In years gone by the best way to create a moodboard was to cut pictures out of books or magazines and arrange them as a collage of ideas – this still works a treat and can be good fun. However the internet has made the process very easy and gives you instant access to a world full of images and themes. Image-based social media such as Flickr, Instagram and Houzz allow you to gather (and impart) inspiration on just about any subject. I am a real fan of Pinterest, and adding the ‘pin it’ button to your browser makes it a doddle to collect and assemble ideas .
Although mood boards and internet searches can help you understand the possibilities for your garden, there is nothing like seeing things ‘in the flesh’ to hone your likes and dislikes. Arm yourself with a digital camera (or smartphone) and get out there. Visit garden centres, take in a few garden shows such as Hampton Court and Chelsea, spend an afternoon wandering round the grounds of a National Trust property or go to a local Open Garden weekend. Take photos of anything that catches your imagination, photographing labels as well helps you remember plant names or products. These images can then be uploaded to your mood board.
Garden Design Styles to choose from
There are enough distinct genres in garden design to guarantee that you will find a theme for your garden that suits your taste. Urban gardens will tick many boxes, repeating patterns and cramming a lot into quite a small space. Wildlife gardens tend to be free and less structured, with plenty of wildlife-friendly plants and places for wildlife to live and hide. Contemporary spaces have crisp, clean lines with minimal clutter and use a mixture of natural and man-made materials to create a sleek and architectural design. Formal gardens are usually geometric, with a clear layout and balanced symmetry structured around a central feature. A cottage garden will be packed full of flowering plants and narrow paths, colourful and fragrant with repeating colour and planting themes.
Don’t be frightened to mix and match garden styles – if done with confidence this can create something wonderful and unique. Add stainless steel to a cottage garden scheme, or use topiary balls with plastic and stone spheres
. Some of my most successful designs have combined styles in a bold fashion. Think about textures – smooth against rough, spiky with soft, curves with angles – contradictions make for arresting statements and add a real ‘designed’ feel.