How to Draw up the Perfect Garden Design Plan

Even a tiny yard can be the site of a spectacular garden. Indeed, it may be less daunting to beautify a small space as opposed to a space that is large and sprawling. But there is a bit of work to do first, and it’s best if it can be done with the help of a landscape designer who has expertise in garden design and planning.


After the homeowner has decided what they want out of their garden, it’s time to find some graph paper and a pencil. This is the first step in making an outline survey of the site.

The first place to start is to find out the dimensions of the house and extrapolate from there. When the measurements have been found, the homeowner can draw the house to scale on the graph paper. The most comfortable proportions to work with are 1/100, though 1/50 is good for smaller gardens. Make sure that the scale is noted on the graph paper, as well as the direction of north.

When this is done, the homeowner and the landscape professional should go outside and measure the ones at of the garden at 90 degrees to the house to the boundaries of the property. Continue around the property marking off 90 degree offsets. The landscape professional will probably wish to mark off the offsets with string.

After the dimensions of the garden and the major features of the garden have been established, then wok down to scale to measure smaller details such as the girth of an existing tree trunk or the diameter of its drip line. Note down walls,fences and other hardscaping. Note where the septic system and leach field is, for shrubs and trees should not be planted above them. The homeowner should work with the landscape designer to be as accurate as possible.

Changes of level also need to be taken into consideration so that steps or retaining walls can be planned for with accuracy. The tops and bottoms of level changes should be marked, and if they’re fairly severe, the homeowner might want to use a surveyor. Small changes in level, such as a gentle slope, can be done by the landscape professional through a technique called boning.


When the outline survey is done, it’s time to choose the pattern of the garden. This is entirely up to the homeowner and should also be drawn on graph paper. Patterns can be diagonals, circles, squares, rectangles and curves and sometimes a combination of two or more shapes. Some patterns are static, such as a circle or square drawn in the centre of the page. Other patterns made of curves and squares, angled rows or diagonals are dynamic. No matter what the pattern, the landscape professional will let the homeowner know that there needs to be a focal point in the garden, whether it be a tree, a statue or a hedge. Without it, a person’s eyes wander all over the space and never come to rest on any one thing.

Shape, Height and Textures

Once the patterns and lines of the garden have been chosen, the homeowner needs to make the plan three dimensional by adding shape, height and texture. One example of using shape, height and texture would be a circular area of the garden planted with fastigiate junipers for height and shape and sprays of ornamental grasses and prostrate alpines tucked among rocks for shape and texture.


The colours of the garden should be chosen with the same care a homeowner would choose colours inside their house. The difference is that the brilliant colours of flowers last but a short time, while foliage lasts longer. The landscape professional will teach the homeowner the difference between hues, which are pure colours, and tones, which are shades of hues. They’ll most likely use a colour wheel to help plan which flowers and foliage go where in the garden. Hues next to each other on the wheel harmonize. An example would be yellow and green, such as a daffodil and its leaves. Hues opposite contrast. An example of that is the bright red of a poppy and its contrasting green foliage.

All of these elements go into make planning a garden exciting and fun, give it a go today and see what you can come up with!