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Garden Design

Solving garden design problems

Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon

April 15, 2013

Is your garden very small? Long and thin? Big and overwhelming? Or perhaps you have problems with very sunny or shady parts in your garden, especially narrow walkways beside the house or dry shade areas under mature trees. Maybe your garden is just, well, plain boring! I talk with landscape designer Louise McDaid about solutions to many common garden design problems.

1. Small gardens

1. spacious small garden

Louise and I discuss how to create the illusion of spaciousness in even a tiny garden, using colour, texture, clever pruning, plant form, slopes and levels, and experimenting with shapes and spaces.

2. Long, thin gardens

2. long, thin garden solutions

Need to s-tt-rrr-etch your space? Here we discuss how to use mirrors, horizontal lines from plants like hedges and pleached trees, the structure of arbours and pergolas, patterning in paths, adding curves and even tromp l’oeil to give the illusion of a wider garden.


3. Big gardens

3. Large cool-climate garden at LysokitonAlthough it’s exciting to have lots of space to play with, a big garden can also be quite overwhelming. Where do you start? Louise and I talk about enclosure, dividing up those big areas into smaller, people-scaled spaces, creating views, and using winding paths.


4. Boring gardens

4. walled gardenIs your garden a thing of envy from all who pass by, or are there elements in your garden that are, well, boring? Are there too many or too few plants in the garden? Is it all just same shade of green? Sometimes changing your garden can create something that when you look at your kitchen window, you can say, “Yeah, that’s relaxing, I’m just going out for a little look.”

Did you know that there’s a town called Boring in Oregan USA? What’s more, the local garden centre is called Boring Square Garden Centre? I hope you haven’t got that problem! Even if you’re garden isn’t at all boring, you can still revamp some part of the garden to make it more fun to be in. There were lots of excellent tips with Louise that you’ll want to listen to several times over to get all the ideas.

5. Dry shady gardens

5. dry shade

Shady gardens can sometimes be problematic, especially if it’s dry shade. Under trees is another area that can give a lot of shade, and the roots take up all the soil, nutrients and water. If you’re tired of looking at that bare patch and wondering what to do about it, listen to this…


6. Sunny gardens

Sunny Bundanoon garden

In this segment, we’re looking at the different amounts of light that you have in the garden. To some gardeners this can be a problem because if you’ve got too much sun or not enough sun, you mightn’t be able to grow the plants that you like the best. But all is not lost. Let’s find out what can help if you have too much sun, particularly western sun, in your garden?

7. Awkward shade


7. a narrow gardenOne of the hardest design problems comes from how little light or sun your garden’s getting. Is your spot in the garden just a narrow strip down the side of the house or garden shed where nothing much seems to grow? Never fear, all is not lost because here’s a solution for that awkward spot in your garden!

8. Summer sun



Not all gardens have constant shade and sun, and sometimes when it’s only sunny or shady for some of the year, finding a plant that suits that location is a bit too tricky. It’s an all too common problem for the modern gardener. But all is not lost. Let’s find out what can help if you have an awkward spot in your garden.



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