I want to show you the typical path that people follow when they start to design their garden.

At the beginning people are excited, inspired and motivated, so they usually jump on Pinterest or Google, create a ‘Garden’ board on their Desktop, and save pictures so that the folder quickly becomes more crowded than a Walmart on Black Friday.



A mess.

Than they get stuck because they don’t know how to put all the ideas together…and the frustration begins.

Time goes by, and the yard gets overrun by weeds and your partner keeps yelling at you because the garden has become a HUGE mess. At this stage you are willing to pay someone to do the job that you swore you could do…

Finally your house ends up looking like the worst house on the block.

Does it sounds familiar?

Don’t worry because today I am going to show you how easy it can be to start the design of your garden simply following some rules.

As I said, at the beginning you are inspired, excited and motivated: this is the right moment to work on the important things instead of jumping ahead. Don’t waste your time looking for pictures: it’s fun, but it’s also very confusing: you end up falling in love with images…do you remember how many times you fell in love with somebody that you thought was perfect for you and wasn’t? You thought he or she was the right one because when you are in love you can’t judge objectively.

It’s the same: you don’t know which ideas are right for you because the first thing that you should do is understand really well the strenghts and weaknesses of your garden. Right ideas turn problems into features and make your design work forever.

How should we proceed?

What you need is a Layout: a scheme showing all the important information related to your garden that will be incorporated into the design.

The Layout makes your life easier because:

  • It breaks down the garden in sub areas, for example the driveway, the frontyard, the lounge area etc., each area is a ‘theme’ for the following image research;
  • It makes you visualize a first rough sketch of your garden;
  • It makes you point out all the strengths and all the weaknesses of your garden

The more you understand your site, the more you are likely to find successful solutions to your problems.

So, how do we draw a Layout?

What you need to do is to draw a plan of your property, including the house. The house should show the internal partition. The floor at the same level of the garden is enough.

If you don’t have this information, let’s make it easy: just grab a piece of paper big enough and a pencil and draw a rough sketch of your property. Draw the house too, and please remember to show the partition and the rooms.

Here you can see an example:



Now it’s time to add some information to your sketch.


Many people think that their garden ends with the fencing. Nothing could be more wrong! Beyond your boundaries there is a whole world that we can decide to include or exclude from the design of your garden.

Nice views, plants, interesting buildings etc. could be seen when you are at home or you are spending time in your garden. Opening a view could make your garden look bigger or deeper or simply could add more interest.

At the opposite, anything that is not worthwhile showing should be hidden simply by closing the view.

How to translate this information into your plan?

If you think there are views that you should keep, just design an arrow on your plan; at the opposite if you want to close a view, design a continuous line.

Do this exercise with all the sides of your property.




Do you remember that I asked to draw the internal partition of your house? Now we need it because I want you to have a think about the rooms where you spend most of your time. Every window in these rooms is like a frame that highlights a portion of your garden that should look amazing.

Furthermore, we want the gardens to flow smoothly into the house and vice versa: they have to feel connected. The only way we can achieve this feeling is projecting the internal partition of your house in your garden.

So, please, after you have figured it out, just draw on every important window a perpendicular line that means that it’s important to keep and highlight that view.





Now it’s time to ask to yourself a serious question: ‘What do I wanna do in my garden?’

You’ll see that at the beginning you’ll tend to include a series of activities that are not part of your lifestyle: a pool, an outdoor gym, a mega barbecue and a fancy spa, etc.

I can’t count how many times I have been asked to include these fancy accessories into the design of the garden. Sometimes the clients changed their mind once they faced the costs, and sometimes we ended up building these things. Guess how many times the clients used them?

Less than 10, probably less than 5 a year.

It is hard to create a new habit, even if it’s a pleasant habit like spending time in a spa. If entertaining people, swimming or a Swedish sauna are not part of your current habits, you should seriously think about spending money on things that you probably won’t use often.

Make a list of the things you are more likely to do in your garden and write them down. Once you have done it, you have to ideally place them into your drawing.

How? Where?

Just follow one rule: the more time you spend doing something, the closer you should put that area to your house.


Because you, like anybody else, don’t like hard work!

There is only one exception: a kitchen garden; a well maintained kitchen garden is very nice to see, but it takes a lot of work and time everyday otherwise it gets messy. If you don’t have the time to grow a ‘perfect’ vegetable garden, just place it in a sunny spot and consider to close the view from the house in some way that you’ll explore later during your image research.

Pool and outdoor spa are nice in summer, but not so nice in winter because they get dirty or covered. The best would be to find a spot for them in the garden where you don’t see them from the house.

All the technical facilities, sheds etc. should be placed far or hidden from the house.




Once we have identified a place for each function, just think about how often you would do that particular activity. If you are planning to spend a reasonable amount of time doing something, it would worth to rethink about the level of privacy you need from that particular spot.

Once again, just take your drawing and trace a line where you think you need more privacy.

At the opposite, draw an arrow if you want to highlight a particular view.



That’s it!

Now you have a series of themes that you can explore through your image research:

– Several areas

-Different needs of screening

-Different ways to highlight views


Now it’s time to immerse yourself in Google and Pinterest. Hooray!