Practical Garden Design

Where will you walk?
As you begin to solidify all the best elements and locations for your final landscape plan, stroll around and figure out the best routes that will get you from place to place. One thing you will notice is that paths will make your space seem even bigger. Here are some issues to consider when planning garden paths.
Practical Garden Design
  • Direct routes: You may need to think practically for some paths. Getting to your car or the mailbox every morning can become a drag if you have to hike a jungle path every time.
  • Wide paths: Will this be a work path that has high traffic. You may need to hustle a wheelbarrow full of compost, grass clippings and other stuff from one place to another. Doing this on an ill conceived narrow garden path could become a nightmare. In addition, a narrow path tends to make people hurry, a wide path makes for a more enjoyable stroll. The minimum width for two people to stroll side by side is 48 inches.
  • Try to make your paths link up: Dead ends may look good on paper but in practice they could become a long term aggravation.
  • Consider other materials. Paths don't have to always be made of cement or pavement. Other materials can work just as well depending on the path's purpose and can possibly add a lot of character to your garden.
  • Make sure fenced off areas don't block access to the rest of the yard. Always use gates or open sections to ensure that you yard will flow properly.

When planning your paths, sprinkle flour as a marker for your potential path to help you visualize if your design scheme works.

Upkeep and maintenance should be a primary consideration and taken quite seriously. That being said, low maintenance can be built into the structure of your yard with a little bit of mental gymnastics.

  1. Plan a hardscape and few plants if you travel frequently.
  2. Know which plants are fast growing. You should keep these plants to a minimum as they tend to get too large for their space very quickly and will need constant pruning
  3. Plant perennials or flowering shrubs as opposed to higher maintenance annuals.
  4. Consider ground cover as opposed to a lawn. If you plant a lawn you will be mowing it weekly during the growing season.
  5. When planning your hardscape, use brick and concrete instead of wood. If you build wood hardscapes such as fences or decks you must factor in that you must paint them and apply preservatives every couple of years.
  6. An automated irrigation system is an absolute must. Unless you live in a climate that keeps the garden wet enough, you will have to water by hand, something that becomes a real nightmare if your garden is anything larger than a single square meter.

As you can see planning for practicality is quite important. Omitting it from the planning process can literally take your garden from a place of relaxation and enjoyment to a harsh and brutal taskmaster demanding your every spare moment to be watered, fed and maintained.

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