Nothing is more disconcerting than a garden that is a chaotic mishmash of all sorts of plants, 10 different paving materials, and too many colours. Yet that is what happens in most of our gardens. The reason is simple: Most of us take to gardening without a plan or in the few instances where a plan exists, it is never really followed.
A good garden is not a collection of all your favourite garden elements and plants. 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 on.
Have a plan
- 1 Prune your garden right
- 2 Setting up garden rooms
- 3 Garden edging options
- 4 How to warm up your garden
So how do you create unity in the garden? The key is consistency. Not all good ideas can co-exist in the same garden. And just because an idea looked great elsewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it will somehow fit into yours.
Avoid stacking all those 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 nothing wrong with borrowing ideas from successful projects elsewhere.
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 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 distracts the mind and blow unity to bits.
Decide on a style
It is always safe to decide on a single garden style or theme and stick to it. Will your garden be formal, nature-inspired, geometric, curvy or rectilinear? Will your planting be native, tropical, desert or alpine-themed?
You can choose whatever style you like and whatever is appropriate to the surroundings. But once you do, apply it consistently to the last detail. Variations are great but they need to be controlled delicately.
Don’t, for instance, attempt to mix a rectilinear walkway with curvy lawn edges or formal plantings with free flowing, meandering paths if you don’t have a clear picture of what you want in the end. Similarly, avoid the slippery path to disunity by not combining too many kinds of fittings and garden furniture in one space.
Don’t be tempted to blend your clay pots with plastic and timber planters or bamboo furniture with plastic chairs and metallic playground equipment.
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 the other hand, use shades and tones 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