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15 Tips for Designing a Garden

A garden designer offers advice for creating enjoyable, livable garden spaces

I’ve always thought that the best gardens are those that make people happy and comfortable. Sure, great gardens look good, but they have to feel good, too. The gardens I admire most are relaxing, easy to move through, and not too hard to maintain. Paths and structures must be simple to navigate, while the plants selected must provide interest and serve a function without being bullies or prima donnas. As a landscape architect, I tackle these issues of comfort and utility every day. Here are 15 practical tips that have helped me create enjoyable, livable gardens for myself and my clients.

1. GIVE A WIDE BERTH

Make sure your pathways are wide enough for comfortable passage. Nobody enjoys squeezing through narrow spaces, in­­doors or out. Main thoroughfares should be wide enough for at least two people to walk side by side, no less than 5 feet. For secondary paths where people walk single file, the width should be at least 3 feet. Keep in mind that the taller the plantings or structures that flank your walkway, the wider the path needs to be. Tall boundaries make any space feel more restricted.

 

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