How to Plan a Garden: A Simple Way to Start

When you think about how to plan a garden, you can get a bit confused. The key is to break down the process into easy to simple stages. Let’s take them one by one.

Playing garden for kid
The Main Purpose of Your Garden

Start off by thinking what will your garden me mostly used for. Will it be a place for kids running around and playing? Or will it mostly be used for parties and barbecues with your friends? Maybe both, or a combination of different usages.

Garden plotting on paper

Paper Before Plant

Next, plot your garden on paper. Take a paper & pencil and plot all the features currently on your garden site. Include both natural and man-made elements, don’t leave anything out. Get a measuring tape to get some approximate measurements. Remember, your paper-plan should be to scale. Indicate on the plan areas of shade and sun.

Add Your Garden Elements

Once your initial drawing of the garden (garden site at this point) is done, add your elements for the garden that you will call your own. Before we get into the major garden elements, here are some tips for adding them:


  • Get some pictures for inspiration.
  • Make a list of your main garden objectives, assets and any limitations.
  • Carefully study your plan and decide what features you want to add to your final garden plan.
  • Put tracing paper on top of your plan and sketch in or leave out the different features.


Remember, you don’t need to get bogged down with the details. For instance, instead of listing every plant, just categorize them as “annuals”, “perennials”, “red and blue bed” etc.


Okay, here are the four major garden elements that you can add:Garden elements

  • Floor: Grass, paving materials, plantable soil, groundcover.
  • Walls: A fence, shrubs, hedge, trellis, and of course, the wall(s) of your house.
  • Ceiling: Umbrella, pergola, awnings, overarching tree, large shrubs.
  • Furniture: Chairs, tables, benches, and garden décor.


Tip: Don’t overdo the garden gnome or pink flamingos. Choose just one or two furniture items otherwise you’ll risk crowding the garden and overshadowing the natural aspect.

Choose a Garden Theme

When you think about how to plan a garden, the answer should be more than measurements and types of plants. You should consider the theme of the garden. Here are some popular garden styles and how to plan them:


  • Formal gardens: Keep it simple. Go for balance and symmetry to create a sense of elegance and peace.
  • Asian gardens: Mostly spread over a broad area. Add stones or raked sand in your Asian garden.
  • Tropical gardens: Add big, leafy foliage plants. You can either put them in the ground or use containers.
  • Cottage gardens: Use a lot of colourful flowers to pull off the informal and inviting look of a cottage garden.
  • Dry climate gardens: Ideal for garden sites that are a bit on the parched side.
  • Woodland gardens: Create a shady look and add ground covers and add colourful flowers.


Keep going online (or opening magazines) to look at pictures for inspiration. Also, keep in mind what we discussed at the start – your main purpose of your garden. Do that and you’ll know how to plan a garden, and get a beautiful garden once you execute that plan.

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