Skip to main content

5 Biggest Mistakes of Garden Design and How to Avoid Them

Garden design isn’t as frightening as many people think it is, and as long as you avoid the following pitfalls, you can create an enjoyable, beautiful space just perfect for you and your family.
Adding a larger paver can create passing places. Image by JillWellington from Pixabay
Create your garden paradise with our garden ambience collection:
A close up of a blur

Garden Ambience

1. Not thinking about how you’re going to get the shopping in or the bins out!
Bear with me; with more of us getting home deliveries - drivers are going to take the fastest and quickest route to your door across lawns and stepping over flowers. Narrow paths - whilst amazing for young children to run along, twisting and turning around objects - are trip hazards when carrying bags of food, large parcels or attempting to take your wheelie bin out on a dark winters night while clasping a torch. Can you tell I may have had personal experience with this?
Described in many design circles as “flow”, - how you move through space will influence your mood every day. Main thoroughfares to destination points - summer sheds, patios, or that comfy sun lounger need to be wide enough to walk down carrying trays of chilled drinks with ease. Paths that gently sweep will draw you through the garden while slowly revealing different views. If corners are unavoidable, I recommend widening the path to manoeuvre items - and yourself with ease.

2. Placing the bin/bicycle/toy store in front of the main window overlooking the garden.
For many of us, doing the washing up is a chore and standing at the kitchen sink, staring at a utility area, doesn’t improve the process. You want them nearby, but preferably out of sight. Climbers, grown-up trellis, taller plants and shrubs, a wooden fence (decorated or not) can all be used to screen them from view. We want our gardens to be an extension of our living space, and making them as visually attractive as possible will help get us off the sofa and out the door. Remember to consider the view from any upstairs windows as well. While most teenagers have absolutely no interest in looking at the garden, a visiting friend may love to.
Nothing beats a comfy chair in the perfect spot. Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

3. Not enough seats. Or more precisely, where to put the chairs?
This is a personal one; on a hot summers day, I like to stretch out flat in the shade of a large tree. My north European skin goes freckly at the first hint of ultraviolet rays, but in winter, the sheltered small patio in front of the house radiates heat and is the best place to eat lunch. In summer, it gets unbearably hot, and you can’t use it after 11 am. If you’ve space for two or more seating areas, you’ll always find a space to sit. When will you be home, what time of day do you use the garden, where are the sunny - or shaded spots.
Pairing similar looking materials helps to creates a very attractive view. Image by avantrend from Pixabay
A close up of a green field

4. Throwing the kitchen sink at the garden.
There are so many beautiful items and styles that catch our eye, and I don’t know about you. I’d love to include them all in my gardening space. However, I hate to admit it; too many different building materials in a design can confuse and make a space visually clash. Sticking to 2 or 3 materials, such as wood, natural stone and paving slabs in an area will help create a more soothing environment. Like interior design, having the same materials flowing throughout the garden can help make the garden feel larger.
Being sympathetic to your home is important too. What is your property made with? A stunning concrete, copper pipe and scaffolding board pergola will suit more industrial areas but reduce the kerbside appeal of a thatched cottage.
Swathes of summer colour blossoming in the herbaceous border. Image by Kilver Court Garden

5. Not enough plants!
More plants can mean less time gardening. Small borders around a lawn will restrict the size of plants you can choose and need more looking after. One large border planted with mixed shrubs can provide all year round interest without masses of maintenance, with the benefit of offering a more permanent home for wildlife.
The expression “right plant, right place” is also essential. Work with the soil and weather that you have. I love Camelia’s, but my exposed windy garden would see their leaves turn brown and the buds drop off, disappointing me every year. Picking a plant that will love your space will quickly see it filling out, flowering and looking after itself.
My tip is to include a tree, but not too close to boundaries - neighbours have the right to prune back overhanging branches. Done unsympathetically, this can create misshaped trees, the possibility of disease infection and neighbourhood disputes. It’s also worth checking your insurance. Many firms have clauses about the planting distance from your house, and you may not be covered if they start causing damage to your property. However, planting a tree is always worth it.
There is no right or wrong way to design a garden; work out how you want to use the space and have a go. Although some kitchen sinks are worth throwing at a garden, Belfast sinks make unique, attractive planters.
An upcycled mini Belfast sink and a sewing machine table in Candide user Jostandish142's garden.
Feeling inspired to grow a green haven in your back garden? Find plants to grow in June in the collection.
A close up of a flower

What to do in the garden in June

Enjoy this article? Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with what's happening. You can find out more about the flower-packed articles, competitions, plants to buy and gardens to visit below.
Sign up to our newsletter and have floral inspiration delivered straight to your inbox!