9 Elements Of Garden Design

City gardens, with small or non-existent front landscapes, are often overlooked as potential for a beautiful garden design. Homeowners often throw in a tree and some grass and call it a day. Yet, small gardens can be as beautiful and impactful as large gardens. All it takes is a little bit of advance planning. 

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.” 

― Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

Choosing Plants : Elements of garden design includes the plants themselves, with consideration for their horticultural requirements, their season-to-season appearance, lifespan, growth habit, size, speed of growth, and combinations with other plants and landscape features. Consideration is also given to the maintenance needs of the garden, including the time or funds available for regular maintenance, which can affect the choice of plants in terms of speed of growth, spreading or self-seeding of the plants, whether annual or perennial, and bloom-time, and many other characteristics. For Bangalore weather, I lean towards tropical gardens which are low on maintenance, high on beauty and perennial flowering plants especially in small gardens where space is a premium. It is recommended to have different height of plants with a combination of tree, shrubs and low growing short stature plants.

Growing plants under and on tall palm trees : Using the smooth, straight palm trunks to grow other plants on or around can increase the size of a garden and provide lots of opportunities for eye-catching, eye level features. You can train a Monstera or Pothos to grow around the tree trunk or create a flower bed in a circle around the tree. Creating a garden around palms can be challenging because the roots may obstruct any digging, but, as you can see, the open areas and vertical trunks also provide lots of opportunities for a lush, colourful and low maintenance tropical garden.

Grow Plants On And Around Trees

Vines : Vines and climbers act like Wite-Out in a garden. They will cover anything ugly, soften any hard surface, and become a textural backdrop for other plants in the foreground. Most are fast growers and with support from a trellis, pillar, arbor, or pergola, vines can be trained to cover nearly any surface. Try morning glory, rose, bougainvillea, pothos, ivy, creeping fig, alamanda, blue sky vine, lady’s slipper vine. 

Vines and Climbers

Vertical garden : whether you’re tight on garden space or need to create some greenery in your patio or porch or screening to provide privacy on a patio, deck or balcony, vertical is the way to go! Choose from tiered hanging baskets to wall sconces or box window planters. 

Wall planters, box planters
Vertical Garden

Garden signs : Vintage garden signs in metal and wood add an immediate whimsical cute factor to your garden. I mean who doesn’t feel good looking at a cheeky garden quote or hand painted welcome sign. 

Garden signs

Garden Ornaments/ Hardscaping : Think of them as art for your garden. Garden statues are the perfect accessory to enhance and intensify the intended mood of an outdoor space or sunroom. Whether you are looking to infuse your front yard or back yard with a bit of humor, balance the composition of your landscaping, or draw attention to specific aspects of your outdoor decor, a garden statue is a great solution. Pick from wind chimes, pinwheels, concrete, stone, wood, metal statues, pebbles, rocks, birdbaths/birdfeed/birdhouses/ stepping stones, lanterns, hurricanes etc Consider adding a water feature like a bird bath or lily pond or koi pond. You can create a fountain with easily available inexpensive solar fountains that will add the sound of water to create an extra layer of sensory appeal. 

Garden ornaments

Tropical Foliage Garden : For the most part, tropical gardens rely on foliage rather than flowers to create interest year round. Consider making a curvy stone border or placing pebbles all around the bed because Formal paths and straight garden beds contrast beautifully with the ‘jungle’ plantings. Foliage should be flamboyant, lively and colourful, and plants must be chosen on the basis of the size, shape and texture of their leaves. Planting in groups of odd numbers (three, five, seven and nine) is a common trick employed by garden designers — it gives a broad brushstroke of colour and texture, and makes a huge difference to the feel of the garden. Placing plants with contrasting foliage next to each other will create drama and interest. For maximum impact, position plants with red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and lime-green leaves next to each other.

Formal Paths

Colourful flowers, such as fragrant frangipani, heavenly hibiscus, ornamental ginger and dramatic canna lilies will warm up the garden and provide further contrast to the vibrant ground-dwelling foliage and green canopy.

Tropical Foliage

Garden Lighting : Good exterior lighting can transform your home and garden and should be considered carefully to maximise the features and the function of your outdoor space.  A well-thought out mixture of task and ambient lighting will make your garden, porch or patio an attractive, inviting space – and safer for people arriving at the property at night. Use a combination of safety lights, pendant lights, candles, lanterns, up lights, downlights, LED solar lights, string lights and wall lights. 

Garden Lighting

Garden furniture : Dining in the fresh outdoors is not only about al fresco eating. It’s also about gathering the family and friends, setting up entertainment, and escaping your usual daily routine. But be smart about your garden furniture: always choose weather-resistant pieces, coverage from the sun, and a solid base for that dining table. If you have a smaller outdoor space,it doesn’t mean you can’t make magic with what you’ve been given, right? Turn your tiny garden into a welcoming spot for a cup of tea or stargazing at night with a small wrought iron table and a matching wooden or metal bench, hammock or swing along with an umbrella.

Garden seating

These garden design elements are key to creating a scheme you’ll love for years to come. A few days ago, I offered to help a friend of mine with redesigning her small front yard and happened to compile these 9 garden design elements that I swear by. Whether you’re looking for garden landscaping ideas to overhaul your outdoor space, or more tailored garden design inspiration such as garden furniture, lights, plants, borders and more, I hope this compilation gives you ideas to help you transform your back or front garden, whether it’s big or small, especially now when we are all spending so much time at home thanks to the pandemic – did someone say lemons out of lemonade? Hell, yeah! And that’s not all – it’ll help to boost your home’s curb appeal and property value  too.