9 Tips To Getting A Professional-Looking Garden Design

by David Salman

Summer Dreams Pre-Planned Garden

The Summer Dreams Pre-Planned Garden is perfect for small spaces and features a mix of flower shapes and heights.

When it comes to planning a flower garden or preparing for a new landscaped area of your yard, many folks don't know where to start. Not to worry! We have helpful tips for making garden planning easy. The planning process should be simple and doable, and leave you with a much better idea of what you want to accomplish.

Here's the short list of factors one needs to understand before any plants go into the ground:

  • How big is the area to be planted? Even if it's only approximate, this tells you how many plants will fit comfortably without becoming an overgrown jungle.
  • Determine the growing conditions. What direction does the area face? Is it a hot dry south or west facing spot? Or is it a cool and shady north or northeast facing area? Is there root competition from a nearby large trees or shrub?
  • Where is it in relation to the house? How close is it to the house? Do you look out on the area? Can you see it from the street?
  • Know your soil type. Not sure? Bring in a sample to the nursery or have it tested.
  • Note if moisture levels in the area are different than elsewhere in the yard. Is it a low spot that collects water after a rain? Or is it on a slope that dries out quickly? Is it near a downspout from the roof that provides extra moisture for plants that like moist soil.

Once the above steps are done, you can start the fun part; putting together a "want list" of plants for the planting site. You can use our robust website search and filter features to find plants that match your growing conditions. 

August Afternoons Pre-Planned Garden

The August Afternoons Pre-Planned Garden features a mix of ornamental grasses and long-blooming perennials that come into bloom in late summer.

Easy Garden Design with our Summer Showstopper Pre-Planned Garden

The Summer Showstopper Pre-Planned Garden uses a variety of textures.


9 Tips To Getting A Professional Looking Design For Your Garden and Landscape

I need to confess that I'm not a landscape designer by education, only by experience. I approach a new planting from the growers' side of the equation. Here are the design tricks I use to put together a cohesive and horticulturally sensible planting using perennial plants:

  1. Always use each plant in odd-numbered groups (threes, fives or sevens).
  2. Use a variety of flower types
    • Use daisy-type flowers (Daisies, Coneflowers)
    • flowering spikes (Beardtongue, Hummingbird Mints), 
    • flower sprays (Heuchera, Columbine, Diascia), 
    • mounding flowers (Lavender, Catmint, Coreopsis) and 
    • flat-topped flowers (Yarrow, Milkweed, Stonecrop).
  3. Always mix in some ornamental grasses for structure, texture, and movement.
  4. Perennials usually bloom for a month or so in one of four general times in the growing season; early spring, late spring, summer and early fall. Choose perennials that bloom in all four of these segments to keep the planting in color for a much longer time.
  5. Use larger groupings of plants to keep the look more restful to the eye. This is better than one or two of a large number of different plants which make the planting look chaotic and unfocused. In large plantings, repeat groupings of plants more than once to create a more cohesive design.
  6. Choose plants with a variety of heights - short, medium, and tall - to avoid monotony. Plant tallest plants toward the back and shorter plants toward the front of your arragement.
  7. Space plants in their locations according to mature size, not the size they are in the pot. This may seem like a "no-brainer" but it's an all too common mistake.
  8. Use lots of groundcovers. I'd much rather look at a lovely creeping thyme than big swatches of mulch. Groundcovers knit a planting together.
  9. Use some evergreens, ornamental grasses, and other plants with interesting seed heads to keep the garden interesting in the dormant seasons.

Easy Garden Design Wtih: The Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden

The Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden, our most popular Pre-Planned Garden of all time.

Take The Guesswork Out Of Garden Design with Pre-Planned Gardens

If you're a casual gardener or someone who is just too busy to undertake the planning processes I've outlined above, choose one of our High Country Garden Pre-Planned Gardens. They are like a painting-by-numbers kit. Each garden comes with a complete planting diagram that shows plant placement and plant spacing. Prepare the soil, place, and plant. Your living art piece will grow in and give you that professional look without a lot of effort.

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