Garden Design

Finding Design Inspiration

Inspiration for the design of your landscape can come in many different forms. A walk through your neighborhood on a sunny afternoon might be a good place to begin.

Look at properties that appeal to you and are similar to yours in scale and observe the homes that might have similar architecture. Take note of specific types of vegetation and how the various spaces and plant material is organized. Curb appeal is a term used extensively and it can guide you in decisions regarding the design of your property. Local home and garden tours can give you the chance to see model yards and professional designers’ talents on display.

We are blessed with some of the very best public gardens in the country right here in the Triangle. The JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham and the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill provide a diversity of garden styles and plant material in a year round display.

Since a University supports each one of these gardens, they also offer classes, lectures and hands on training in garden design, plant selection and maintenance. It is also a great opportunity for involvement by volunteering with any of these organizations and getting some excellent first hand experience.

You can also check out Triangle Gardener’s extensive calendar of events, both in the print edition and online at If you have interest in joining a gardening club you can look at any one of a number of groups from herb, bonsai and camellia societies to daylilies, roses and rock gardens. Each of these groups has a large number of enthusiasts and pack tremendous amounts of inspiration for novices and professionals alike. The Triangle Gardener website also contains information on these groups.

The gardening world is at your fingertips when you delve into the internet or peruse an unending array of books and magazines available to you. Organize your thoughts in words and photos clipped from as many sources as you deem necessary. Still looking? Grab the remote and surf through a television lineup of garden shows that both inspire and offer do-it-yourself tips that will take you from couch potato to digging potatoes.

The wealth of information available to you can become every bit as daunting as an apparent lack of ideas or inspiration. Whether you decide to go it alone or hire a designer, horticulturalist or contractor to help make your ideas a reality, remember that the experience is intended to create a landscape that provides a comfortable, inviting place to enjoy for years to come. Spring is happening, get inspired and get going. Good luck and good gardening.

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

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