Nothing is more disconcerting than a garden that is a chaotic mishmash of all sorts of plants, ten different paving materials, and too many colours. Yet such is the hallmark of many of our gardens. The reason is simple: most of us take to gardening without a plan.
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A good garden is not a collection of all your favourite plants, elements and structures. Rather it is a product of carefully selected harmonious elements and consistent and comprehensible forms and colours. In short, all the parts and pieces of the garden are in unity with one another. This kind of garden is pleasing to both the eye and the mind, and it makes for a place where you want to get into and linger.
Have a plan
So how do you create unity in the garden? The key is consistency. Let’s face it, not all your great ideas can co-exist in the same garden. And just because an idea looked great elsewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit into yours. Avoid sticking all those nice features and plants you see out there into your garden without regard to how they affect the total space.
Instead, have a plan of your own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing ideas from successful projects elsewhere. Just make sure that they are well coordinated in a plan so that they are proportionate and well balanced with one another and other features and structures in your home.
And unless you are a master of design, keep the number of elements in your plan fairly minimal — a few kinds of plants, one or two hardscape materials, and not too many of those collector items. Having too many elements in one composition drives the mind to distraction, blowing unity to bits.
Decide on a style
Also decide on a style and stick to it. Will your garden be formal, natural, geometric, curvy or rectilinear? You can choose whatever style you like and whatever is appropriate to the surroundings. But once you choose, apply it consistently to the last detail.
Don’t, for instance, attempt to mix a rectilinear walkway with curvy lawn edges or formal plantings with free flowing, meandering paths. It simply doesn’t work. Similarly don’t mix up clay pots with plastic and timber planters unless you are in the business of selling containers.
Choose a suitable colour scheme
Be careful to coordinate the colours of your plantings, hardscape elements and house. The best approach is to choose a colour scheme that you like and apply it consistently throughout the garden. Complementary schemes, for instance, combine two colours directly opposite each other on the colour wheel.
Monochromatic colour schemes on another hand use shades and tone of just one colour while analogous schemes use two colours right next to each other on the colour wheel. Whichever scheme you choose, repeat it in the entire garden to create a harmonious and beautiful environment where everything reads as one.
— The writer is a landscape architect.