Introduction To Design

What kind of garden do you have in mind?

Planning, designing, and constructing a garden can take a considerable amount of time, effort, and patience. Organize each phase of the project into smaller, manageable steps that can be completed in a reasonable time and fashion. Be thorough. Complete each step. This approach will allow you to get more for your money, and avoid costly time-consuming corrections both during and after your garden has been completed.

The first step in planning a garden is to ask yourself the purpose of your garden.

A few common design goals:

Aesthetics: Many homeowners simply want a garden that is pleasing to their eye to view from their window. Others may wish to include flowers that are pretty to look at and can be cut and also enjoyed as indoor arrangements.

Enhancing the local watershed: Some homeowners wish to have a garden in harmony with the local ecosystem that attracts wildlife and does not contribute to the pollution of the local waterways.

Relaxation: A quiet place. Some wish to create a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. Protection from the wind, easy access to sun or shade, soothing sounds such as gently rippling water, or the chirping of birds, should all be taken into consideration for this type of garden.

An extension of your indoor living space: Well-designed outdoor spaces can serve as second kitchens, places to barbecue and entertain, quaint nooks for your morning coffee, restful enclaves for an afternoon nap, or an extension of your living room. Some items to consider: deck or terrace; table and chairs, umbrella; easy connection to the kitchen; a place for barbeque and/or grill.

Shade: Trees, overhead arbors, and buildings, all block the sun's rays resulting in reduced evaporation of water and cooler indoor and outdoor temperatures. Create shade over critical areas.


Playing: Having children or grandchildren in the home often means a play area may be an important factor in the design. You may wish to include a lawn; play structures; perhaps a sandbox. Be sure to choose non-poisonous, non-thorny plants and consider planting pest-resistant varieties. Family pets can also benefit from a place to run and careful plant selection.

Lawns should be appropriately sized for the play needs of children, pets, and adults.
Small lawn area

Food: Many would like to experience the joy of serving food fresh from their own garden. A vegetable/fruit garden needs easy access to a water source. Include a potting shed or bench. A comfortable little bench for sitting may also be an option.

A citrus tree can provide a nice source of fresh fruit.
(Not recommended for North County areas due to frost)
Meyer lemon

Entertaining: Entertaining guests is a common reason for wishing to have a garden area. Some items to consider: deck or terrace; table and chairs, umbrella; easy connection to the kitchen; a place for barbeque and/or grill.

If you are not sure as to the type of garden you would like, filling out our Questionnaire may help you identify your specific garden wants and needs.

If the garden will be of your own design, basic principles on landscape design can be found in the sections titled Principles of Design and Creating the Design.