The 5 Biggest Mistakes in Garden Design

If you are aware of the biggest mistakes in garden design, you’ll save yourself lots of frustration and effort in the future. Here’s how to make sure your garden provides you with the most joy possible in the long term.

Apr 09, 2021 02:20 pm
readtime icon 6 Minutes
A well-designed garden

A well-designed garden provides the most fun in the long run

Mistakes can happen. But in garden design, they tend to have far-reaching, unwelcome consequences. Often, it only becomes clear a few years after all the work that the garden has been split up in a way that you don’t like or that the wrong plants were used or the garden you created is simply too high-maintenance. Let us tell you how to avoid the biggest garden design mistakes – so your garden can bring you joy and not frustration.

Mistake 1: Designing a garden without a plan

One of the biggest mistakes in garden design is doing too much. Even if you have lots of motivation, the best thing you can do is make a detailed plan before you reach for the spade. Take stock of the plot at your disposal and make a wish list. It’s very advisable to draw a plan of your ideal garden, keeping to scale as much as possible. Start with the big idea and then work through the details. Don’t start choosing plants right away: start with basic zoning of your garden space. Check which areas have shade, semi-shade or sun. This isn’t just important for selecting plants but also positioning seating areas or even a garden pond.

Garden design on paper
A drawing helps you work out the right garden design
Mistake 2: Ignoring the properties of your soil

Soil is something that is often forgotten in garden design. But it has a significant impact on the quality of a garden, forming the foundations for all plant growth. To avoid disappointment in the future, you should really get to know the properties of your garden soil. If you’re starting a new project, it’s usually worth carrying out a soil analysis: is the soil loamy, sandy or humus-rich? What is its pH? Depending on the soil type, it may be a good idea to improve the soil before you start planting. Lightweight soil can be improved in spring with mature compost, whereas green manure may make sense for a vegetable patch.

Mistake 3: Choosing the wrong plants
A flowering bed
Choosing the right plants isn’t just a matter of location, but also size, flowering period and flower color

It seems so simple: you just plant your favorite plants in your garden until there’s no more space. Or you just buy the or shrubs that are available at your local garden centers. But there’s a lot more to consider when choosing plants. For example, arranging shrubs by height or planning a beautiful color gradient in a bed can be important. Look for species and varieties that vary in terms of height, flowering period and flower color. Leafy foliage is often forgotten but provides pattern and interest in the garden in times of few flowers. Always check how tall and wide trees and shrubs can grow. In small front yards, garden trees that grow too large can quickly ruin the whole garden.

Mistake 4: Neglecting paths and seating areas

Another mistake made in garden design is paying too little attention to paths and seating areas. Both have an important design function. The earlier these are planned, the better – corrections later on can really play havoc with your budget. You can even use a clever path design to make a garden look bigger. Always keep in mind: the more often a garden path is used, the more secure and stable it should be. Seating areas are usually positioned at the beginning or end of a path. Consider when and how you would like to use your seating area. Breakfast in the morning sun? Alone or with guests? For a generous seating area with a table and chairs for four to six people, you will have to plan for at least twelve square feet. Also consider that a seating area needs secure floor mounting.

Garden path with concrete paving
Garden paths make the garden accessible, fulfilling an important function in both design and zoning
Mistake 5: Underestimating cost and workload

Whether it’s an illuminated garden pond or a paved seating area – dream garden wish lists often include elements with a high. So, ask yourself: how much money can and do I want to invest? Consider that electrical installations in the garden must be carried out by a professional, and many people cannot even lay paving alone. Many people underestimate how much time is required for garden upkeep. The more plants with different needs in one garden, the more frequently a gardener has to spend time watering or fertilizing. A well-manicured lawn and topiary require particularly intense maintenance. If you prefer things easy-going and low-maintenance, it’s better to opt for a natural wildflower meadow, low-maintenance groundcover or a privacy screen made up of climbing plants.