Thursday, July 23, 2009

Landscaping 101

Whether you are putting together a complete garden space from a bare building site, or trying to freshen up a tired existing yard, Garden Design: planning, building and planting your perfect outdoor space is the first place to start. Editor Chris Young has put together a soup-to-nuts guide on designing a beautiful garden. From planning the scope of your project (how much time and money do you have?) to choosing a style that fits your taste and surroundings (my cottage-style house would look goofy with a formal French herb garden in back), this book helps you get your creative juices flowing.
There are sections on laying out your new space around existing features, thinking about building materials, taking seasonal changes into account, and incorporating complimentary color schemes into the plant beds and design features. This book does a wonderful job supporting the textual information with diagrams and photos, as well as demonstrating that the same space can be utilised and shaped many different ways.
The chapter on constructing your garden - preparing the site, building outdoor structures, doing your planting - is very brief and should be considered more of an overview. It will give you an idea of how much effort is involved in laying out a certain type of path, building a pergola, or putting in a water feature (apparently, this is more involved than just leaving a wading pool out on your lawn all year). To actually build your deck, lay out your patio, or install a fence I recommend checking out one of our books devoted entirely to that subject.
The final chapter - a Plant and Materials guide - is nice because it gives you a variety of options without being overwhelming. If this is your first big garden project, choosing perennials from a book listing 600 species can be pretty daunting. In addition, since the contributors to Garden Design are all British, most of the plants they suggest would do well in our climate. We do, however, have plenty of books about Northwest annuals and perennials, if you need more plant suggestions.
This is an extremely helpful, nicely illustrated book that should be your first source of advice and inspiration for your next gardening project.

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