Most people see garden design and landscaping on two different levels. While designing a garden implies a smaller more intimate project than an entire landscape plan, the principles are the same for both.
So before you put anything to paper or on the ground, you should become familiar with the Basic Principles Of Landscape Design. This will give you a better understanding about color, balance, form, choosing landscaping plants, and "tricks" like Repetition and Contrast. It doesn't matter if you plan on creating your garden yourself or "borrowing" ideas. It's just good to know.
Does your garden have a purpose? If so, you should be clear about it. Your garden will either be created to be a viewed work of art, an extended livable "room" of your home, walked through and enjoyed, all of the above, or whatever. Purpose and function go hand in hand. Purpose will help determine the functionality of your design. And both can often layout a lot of the primary shape.
Other than choosing the right plants, shape is where most people have a problem designing gardens and landscaping. Of course, shape and design are very important as we all want our landscaping and gardens to stand out, be unique, and be tasteful.
With the purpose of your garden or landscaping in mind, you need to be prepared to draw your plan as you put your ideas together. See planning your design for details that will guide you through the steps of measuring, plotting, designing, and drawing your plan. This is all good to know whether you plan on pencil drawing or are considering using software.
If you're stuck for ideas, this section is for you. The following links should give you plenty of gardens, landscapes, and properties to look at for hours. As you look through these directories, you may get lucky enough to find a perfect match for your plot. However, that's usually not the case. It's usually better to look for several ideas that will work for your purposes and put them all together.
The Pictures Directory
A directory of different garden design styles and themes with hundreds of pictures of designs created by different professional designers. We're also in the process of creating a directory of designers portfolios that has a few pictures in it as well. The companies and contractors directory should prove to be another great ideas resource in the future.
Free Garden Plans
A nice directory of over 120 different designs, plans, sketches, and ideas.
Landscape Ideas Gallery
A gallery of my own garden designs along with written explanations behind each plan or project.
Landscaping Ideas Pictures
This is another new directory of properties and landscaping projects that are not my own.
Designing small gardens has its own special set of rules and tricks. It can actually be quite a challenge. But for whatever reason, if you live where your outdoor space is limited, you shouldn't and don't have to sacrifice your love for gardening.
Making the most of what limited space you have and proper plant selection are the main tricks in creating small gardens. However, there are ways of making your space seem larger than it really is. This is what garden designers refer to as "creating illusions".
For information and tips on creating illusions, plant selection, and ideas for designing small, balcony, and roof-top gardens, see small gardens, small garden designs, and small garden pictures.
As I stated earlier, besides shape, choosing plants is usually one of the most difficult steps in designing gardens. With the many different types and colors of plants available, it's just not something that most folks have knowledge of or time to study.
If choosing plants was simply a matter of creating good color combinations, it wouldn't take much thought. However, it's all the variables that determine what can be planted where that can make it a frustrating task. And from an economical point, trial and error isn't the best way to populate your landscape with beautiful plant and color combinations.
The actual study of color theory is huge with tons of information on the subject. For the sake of good garden design, it's not necessary to get too far indepth about it. However, as areference, it is a good idea to know a little bit about the basics. Color schemes and color theory uses the color wheel to give you a simple rundown of different ways colors are combined. For all the other details and considerations regarding choosing the right plants, see Choosing the right plants.
Xeriscaping (not zero scaping) is the art of water-wise gardening. Xeriscaping has not only become very popular, but because of a lack of natural resources, has become a necessity in many areas.
In spite of it's growing popularity, xeriscaping is still very much misunderstood by a lot of people. True xeriscaping is a very beautiful method of garden design that saves on resources, time, and money.
The Japanese influence in gardens is more common than most people think. Sometimes it's subtle while at other times it's quite obvious.