Garden design is a creative process based on a series of principles and ‘rules’. As with most things in life, you can bend the rules to achieve great things, but the principles of garden design need to be your starting point. For garden design in Glasgow the rules are the same as elsewhere, and one of the key principles that garden designers in Glasgow will pay attention to is the principle of balance.
This sense of balance does not necessarily mean a symmetrical garden, unless you are going for a formal look, just try to balance the mass of vegetation on one side of the garden with the other. For example, a small tree at the end of one side of your back garden could be balanced by a group of medium-sized shrubs on the other side, slightly closer to your house. If you are going for a more formal look, for perhaps the entrance to your driveway or front door, then this is easily achieved with two identical plants on either side. Do be aware, however, that if you are placing a couple of decorative planters with costly shrubs in either side of your front door, that they may well end up being sheltered from the rain by the eaves of your house. In this situation, you will be needing to water them a lot.
Balance goes hand-in-hand with the principle of proportion – don’t plant that tree that will grow to a huge height next to your house. Not only will this lead to problems with roots, it will just look awful. Small gardens should have small trees. In my own modestly-sized garden, I have recently planted new trees, but a critical factor in my choice was their ultimate height. They are both beautiful flowering trees, one a Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’) and the other a Crab Apple (Malus ‘Evereste’) but neither will grow to more than three or four metres in height.
Finally, keep things simple. A garden full of curves, different landscaping materials, or too many focal points (attention-grabbing features that draw the eye, like sculptures or gazebos) can end up looking fussy. Complex gardens are usually difficult to maintain as well, and you should always keep an eye on the amount of maintenance you are going to have to do in the future.
There are so many other factors to consider when tweaking or entirely re-designing your garden, but hopefully these few tips will help you along the way.
Tom Angel is a garden designer based in Glasgow whose career has included winning Silver Gilt and Best New Show Garden awards at Garden Scotland in 2019. Tom also works as a garden consultant and japanese knotweed surveyor - providing everything from planting plans and garden designs to garden maintenance plans and advice about japanese knotweed removal.
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