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Module 8: Introduction to Garden Design – Pt 3

Are you dreaming of having a beautiful and functional garden design that reflects your personality and style? Look no further! This module is designed to guide you through the process of planning and creating your dream garden.

Mixture of colours and textures to create a harmonious garden design
A mixture of colours and textures to create a harmonious garden design

Learning Objectives

  • You will learn how to develop a garden plan that suits your purpose and style, evaluate your garden site, and set a budget.
  • Help you decide on a garden layout by considering the garden’s shape and size, creating pathways, adding focal points, and planning for year-round interest.
  • Introduction to garden styles, including practical examples and suitable planting combinations you may wish to try.

Planning your dream garden

This module is designed to help you create a beautiful and functional garden that reflects your personality and style. Whether you want to grow vegetables, herbs, or flowers, this course will guide you through the process of developing a garden plan, deciding on a garden layout, and creating a plant list.

Section A: Develop a Garden Plan

  1. Determine your garden’s purpose: Before you start designing your garden, it’s essential to understand what you want to achieve. Do you want to grow vegetables, herbs, or flowers? Do you want a garden for relaxation, entertainment, or exercise? Knowing your garden’s purpose will help you make informed decisions about its layout, design, and plant selection.
  2. Evaluate your garden site from the previous survey: Consider your garden site’s size, shape, and soil condition. Is it sunny or shady? Is it dry or moist? Knowing your garden site’s characteristics will help you choose the right plants to thrive in that environment.
  3. Decide on a style: Gardens can have different styles, such as formal, informal, cottage, or modern. Choose a style that matches your personality and your surroundings. You can get inspiration from garden magazines, books, or online resources.
  4. Set a budget: Gardening can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. Determine how much money you can spend on your garden and prioritise your expenses accordingly.

Section B: Decide on Garden Layout

  1. Consider the garden shape and size: The shape and size of your garden will determine the layout you can use. Square, rectangular, or circular shapes are popular layouts. Consider using a vertical garden or raised garden beds to maximise space if you have a small garden.
  2. Create pathways: Pathways help define the garden’s shape and provide easy access to different areas. Use stepping stones, gravel, or bricks to create paths that match the garden’s style.
  3. Add focal points: Focal points add interest and depth to the garden. They can be a sculpture, a water feature, or an ornamental tree. Place focal points strategically to draw the eye towards them.
  4. Consider the seasons: Plan your garden layout to have year-round interest. Consider adding evergreen plants, bulbs, and seasonal plants that bloom at different times of the year.
Garden design sketch
Garden design sketch


  • Sketch different garden layouts and choose one that matches your garden style and purpose.
  • Create a pathway plan that provides easy access to different areas in your garden.
  • Choose a focal point and decide where to place it in your garden

Section C: Create a Plant List

  1. Choose plants that match your garden’s purpose: If you want to grow vegetables, choose plants that are easy to grow and provide a good yield. If you want a flower garden, choose plants with a long blooming season and complement each other.
  2. Consider the plant’s size and growth habit: Choose plants that fit the garden’s scale and growth habit. Avoid planting tall plants instead of short ones or invasive plants that may overtake the garden.
  3. Think about colour and texture: Choose plants with complementary colours and textures to create a harmonious garden. Consider using contrasting colours and textures for a more dramatic effect.
  4. Use plant combinations: Certain plant combinations work well together and can enhance each other’s growth and beauty—for example, plant lavender and roses together for a fragrant and colourful garden.
  5. Select plants that suit your desired garden style – at the bottom of this module. You will find an introduction to garden styles and suitable planting combinations you may wish to try.


Create a list of plants for your garden – identify nice planting combinations based on planting conditions in different garden areas.

In conclusion, designing a garden can be a fun and rewarding experience. Following these steps, you can create a garden that reflects your personality and style while providing a haven for relaxation, entertainment, and exercise. Remember to be creative, experiment, and, most importantly, have fun!

Guide to Garden Styles & Design

Garden style is a way to express your personality and create a unique outdoor space that reflects your taste and lifestyle. There are many garden styles to choose from, each with its own set of materials, plants, and design elements. Here are some of the most popular garden styles for gardeners:

Cottage Gardens

Cottage gardens are informal and charming, with a mix of flowering plants, herbs, and vegetables. Materials used in cottage gardens include wood, stone, and wrought iron. Common plants in cottage gardens include roses, peonies, lavender, and daisies. Here are five practical examples for creating a cottage garden at home:

  • Plant a mix of flowering plants and herbs in a raised garden bed or container.
  • Create a natural-looking pathway using stepping stones or gravel.
  • Use a trellis or arbour to support climbing plants such as clematis or wisteria.
  • Place a bench or swing in a shady spot for relaxation.
  • Add a bird bath or feeder to attract birds and butterflies.
Cottage garden
Cottage garden

Formal Gardens

Formal gardens are characterised by symmetry, order, and structure. Materials used in formal gardens include brick, stone, and concrete. Common plants in formal gardens include topiaries, hedges, and geometrically-shaped shrubs. Here are five practical examples for creating a formal garden at home:

  • Use boxwood or other evergreen shrubs to create a formal hedge or border.
  • Install a water feature like a fountain or pool as a focal point.
  • Use geometric shapes such as circles, squares, or triangles to create a pattern in your garden.
  • Place classical statues or sculptures strategically throughout the garden.
  • Create a parterre garden using raised beds or containers.
Formal Garden
Formal Garden

Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are serene and contemplative, focusing on natural elements such as water, rocks, and gravel. Materials used in Japanese gardens include bamboo, stone, and wood. Common plants found in Japanese gardens include cherry blossoms, azaleas, and bonsai trees. Here are five practical examples for creating a Japanese garden at home:

  • Use a small pond or stream to create a water feature that can be enjoyed from different angles.
  • Use gravel or sand to create a dry landscape or zen garden.
  • Place rocks or boulders throughout the garden to create a naturalistic feel.
  • Use bamboo or wood to create a fence or gate that complements the garden’s aesthetic.
  • Plant Japanese maples or conifers to add colour and texture to the garden.
Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

Modern Gardens

Modern gardens are sleek and minimalist, focusing on clean lines and simple shapes. Materials used in modern gardens include concrete, steel, and glass. Common plants in modern gardens include ornamental grasses, succulents, and evergreens. Here are five practical examples of creating a modern garden at home:

  • Use pavers or concrete to create a minimalist pathway.
  • Use steel or aluminium planters to create a contemporary feel.
  • Install a water feature such as a modern fountain or pool.
  • Use large-scale plantings of grasses or evergreens to create a simple yet striking visual effect.
  • Create a vertical garden using modular planters or a green wall.
Modern Garden
Modern Garden

Tropical Gardens

Tropical gardens are lush and vibrant, focusing on bold colours and exotic foliage. Materials used in tropical gardens include wood, bamboo, and stone. Common plants in tropical gardens include palm trees, hibiscus, and bromeliads. Here are five practical examples for creating a tropical garden at home:

  • Use a pergola or trellis to support climbing plants such as jasmine or bougainvillea.
  • Use colourful mosaic tiles to create a mosaic
  • Create a seating area with a thatched roof or umbrella for shade.
  • Use tropical-inspired lighting, such as tiki torches or lanterns, to create a warm, inviting atmosphere.
  • Use brightly coloured containers to plant tropical flowers or plants.


In conclusion, novice gardeners have many garden styles to choose from when designing their outdoor space. By understanding each garden style’s materials, plants, and design elements, they can create a unique and personalised garden that reflects their personality and taste. The practical examples provided in this overview can serve as a starting point for novice gardeners to begin exploring and experimenting with different garden styles.

Here are five more planting combinations for each of the garden styles mentioned above:

  1. Cottage Garden
  • Foxgloves, catmint, and roses
  • Lavender, daisies, and daylilies
  • Peonies, iris, and lilies
  • Hollyhocks, delphiniums, and echinacea
  • Sweet peas, zinnias, and marigolds

  1. Formal Garden
  • Boxwood, yew, and holly
  • Topiary, juniper, and azalea
  • Roses, hydrangea, and magnolia
  • Tulips, alliums, and hyacinths
  • English ivy, ferns, and hostas

  1. Japanese Garden
  • Cherry blossoms, azaleas, and moss
  • Japanese maple, ferns, and moss
  • Bonsai trees, bamboo, and stones
  • Camellias, water iris, and lotus
  • Pine trees, ferns, and moss

  1. Modern Garden
  • Succulents, agave, and yucca
  • Ornamental grasses, sedum, and lavender
  • Boxwood, hydrangea, and hosta
  • Tulips, daffodils, and crocus
  • Juniper, birch, and weeping willow

  1. Tropical Garden
  • Palm trees, hibiscus, and bird of paradise
  • Bromeliads, anthuriums, and orchids
  • Ferns, caladiums, and elephant ears
  • Bougainvillea, jasmine, and mandevilla
  • Plumeria, frangipani, and ginger

Coming Next

Further Reading

Updated on March 5, 2024

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