Design garden-home garden designs
Whether you're starting from a blank canvas or remodeling an existing graden it's worth thinking about the overall design. Changing the composition rather than tinkering around the edges is always going to be the most effective way of making a low-maintenance garden - so you take control of how it works for you.
How to design garden
Create spaces, create rooms. Don't let the living spaces within the garden be tied to the overall shape of it. When i started learning about garden design my habit was something like this....I use to put into the garden the things i want and need, but not thinking about the design. Rooms which will be beautiful to sit in have been made. The same things are in the same places - but they've been organized into a coherent whole.
1) Making shapes on the ground- To make the rooms you put good strong shapess on the ground. I think this is the fun bit of design - thinking about which shapes, what types of rooms will work in your garden. If you have a blank canvas you'll have more choice, if you need to accommodate things that are already there, you may be more limited in which ones you could go with.
2) Square, triangle, rectagle- Don't let the shapes go too close to the edges of the garden - these spaces will probably be planted and you need room to put something there. Most of these designs have a patio at one end. You may need a patio right next to the house - but it doesn't have to be there. Squares are pretty nice shapes to be in anyway so you can just use the shape of the garden - but make sure the walls are given some unity, maybe with battens or trellis. Triangular gardens are great to design; they can be transformed beyond recognition just by demarcating different shapes within the boundaries.
Think outside the box: When you're dividing up the space, you don't have to decide immediately what each shape or area will be formed by. The circle in the middle might be lawn - but it could be something else like gravel or stone. It's worth remembering: the more hard landscaping you have - the fewer the plants - the lower the maintenance.
Design garden-measuring and planning
You don't have to do a plan on paper, walking around the garden and marking things out on the ground will work just as well; and, if you have a lot of stuff in the garden already and are just tinkering, it will be a lot easier to mark changes on the ground than trying to plot eveything onto paper. Line paint from a builders' merchant is ideal to draw things out on grass and soil, but if it goes on paving it's a pain to get off. Or you can just use string and stakes to demarcate areas.
But if you can do a scale plan of the garden and mark on it all the existing features that need to stay it will mean you can experiment more with different shapes and ways to divide the space up. Make lots of photocopies of the plan and have a play. Once you've worked out he shapes, the rooms, the next thing to decide is - what will make those shapes, how will the divides be created.
Sun or shades?
Quite apart from any maintenance issues, sun and shade are incredibly important in gardens and it's good to get to know where they fall during the day and at different times of the year. You may want to sit in the sun or in the shade; you may want childern's play equipment to be in the shade. If you can't decide whether you want a sitting area in the sun or shade, put it in the sun, you can always bring in shade.
Garden tip: The stronger the lines of the garden's design, the more you will get away with if you let the grass grow or don't quite remember to do the weeding.