Garden Design

Add Structure to Your Landscape

Successful gardens are planned and demonstrate elements of organization and purpose. Winter and early spring are the best times of the year to conduct a thorough evaluation of the bones and structure of your property. Bare of deciduous leaves and void of tantalizing flowers and color, your landscape reveals its framework.

Trees large and small, evergreen plants, the topography, garden structures and the exterior walls of your home define rooms in the garden. This more immediately affects smaller properties, but larger properties also present opportunities for division into many garden rooms.

Use your camera to take plenty of images of your property from inside your home looking out, as well as taking photographic panoramas of the good and bad views outside. These photos present you with the opportunity to look at your property from a very different perspective. Print or view these images on your computer screen in black and white to reveal the framework and spaces in the landscape.

Create a base plan using a large image of your property. Consider the affects of environmental elements including, sun pattern, topography, shade, wind direction and soil type. Then make a list of the family’s landscape needs, desires and dreams, and locate all these elements on the base plan.

Landscape design is the conscious arrangement of the outdoor spaces that comprise your property. Look at your entire piece of land and study its opportunities and problem areas to develop a landscape plan that creates functional as well as beautiful garden rooms.

A garden room can be as simple as the space occupied by a deck or patio or as spacious as the lawn or woodland. Kids’ play areas, vegetable gardens, tool storage areas, dog pens, parking areas and the rose garden all qualify as a garden rooms.

A garden mentor once stated, “A good garden is an interesting garden; one which is alive with colors bold and subtle, textures coarse and fine, forms dramatic and quiet. It should appeal to the senses – to see, to touch, to smell, to hear, to taste – for as many days each year as possible. A good garden has a feeling of organization and strong, but not necessarily evident, design structure. Above all, a good garden contains something of the spirit and personality of the family which has made it.”

Hoyt Bangs, a Raleigh native and landscape designer is owner of WaterWise Garden Design. You may reach him at

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