We’ve discussed landscape planning in terms of function, aesthetics, and lighting. Now that your structural elements are in place and lit up, it’s finally time to turn your attention to the softscape, and especially to garden designs.


Try to create a framework for plant selection, before you begin.


1. Budget Constraints: I put this first because it is something to consider in any garden design. If you have your heart set on expensive specimen plants, you may want to create your garden in stages. Don’t forget to budget for any soil that must be brought in or amended.


2. Pre-existing Plants: There will be times when your primary interest is in complementing an existing planting. If that is the case, ask yourself, what types of plants will survive under the tree’s shade and over its roots? Will you need to remove part of the hedge, to make room for the garden space?


​3. Proportion: Small space gardens still need to have balance. The rule of thumb for garden borders is that the width be no less than 1/3 the length. But small borders tend to look better with at least a 1 to 2 ratio. Better still, use irregular shapes with curving lines. The space itself becomes interesting and the size diminishes in importance.


4. The Basics: USDA Hardiness Zones and Sun Exposure: Know what plants will thrive in your garden. We live in Zone 7 so keep that in mind when selecting your plants.


5. Maintenance Requirements: Your garden may look good initially, but many perennials need to be divided every few years or they will start to die out or perhaps squeeze out their neighbors.


6. Garden Size: A small space will look cluttered fast if there is too much diversity.


7. Quantity: There are two schools of thought about how densely to plant a new garden.

  • If you want your garden to look mature and full its first year, you will need to space young plants more closely or buy larger plants. You will get an immediate impact, but you will also need to begin dividing sooner.
  • If you have the patience to allow your garden to fill in slowly, you can leave room for the plants to grow into their new home and fill in temporarily with annuals.


Reliable Landscaping provides quality lawn installation and maintenance for Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford Counties. Contact us online or call 540-842-7685 for a free quote or consultation.


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