Garden planning and design

Planning your garden is no small job. Get started with our advice and ideas for how to design and start a garden from scratch.

Garden planning: first things to consider

Planning a garden from scratch is a significant project, and a lot needs to happen at this stage – even before you get your boots dirty. It’s important to remember that your plans and your costs are closely connected: the larger and more elaborate the garden you’re creating, the higher the landscaping costs will be.

What resources you’ll need to make your garden design a reality also depends on whether you bring in professional help or do all the work yourself. Keep in mind that hiring landscape gardeners and building companies will increase costs, but will also speed up the process. We have put together some general tips and advice to help you through, whichever route you take.

Planning a year-round garden

Peak season for most gardening activity runs from spring until autumn, giving you and your garden a break over winter. However, depending on the type of garden you choose and what you grow, there will be some tasks that need to be done at specific times of year. We’ve put together a brief overview to give you an idea of what to expect.

Pink flowers in a garden in spring

Spring gardening

When spring arrives, things start blooming and the garden needs tidying up. Now is the time for planning, planting and gentle pruning. As the weather warms up you’ll be welcoming more and more colour, so get to work on those beds! You can find more information about gardening in spring in our guide.
More on your garden in spring
Woman mows lawn in her garden in summer with STIHL mulching lawn mower RM 2 R

Summer gardening tips for a beautiful botanical oasis

Summer is a great time for gardening! Whether you design a garden that gives you food or flowers, growing is at its peak in the summer. As summer begins, so do the first harvests, starting with new potatoes in June. We guide you through what to do in your garden in summer.
More on summer gardening
Dry autumn leaves on the ground

Gardening in autumn

There is still gardening to do as you enjoy the last of the warm weather, but before the frosts arrive you need to get your garden ready for winter. Find out how to compost leaves and winterproof your beds. Discover what autumn garden tasks you should be planning in our month-by-month guide.
More on gardening in autumn
A snow-covered garden in winter

Winter gardening jobs

You can’t completely forget your garden over winter. Anything you have not winterproofed will need proper care now, or will need to be stored away for the winter – making good use of winter time in your garden will pay off in spring. Find out more about winter gardening in our practical guide.
More on winter gardening
A man kneeling down and scattering fertiliser pellets from a bowl onto the earth around a plant

All about garden fertilisation

You should apply fertiliser to your garden for the first time in spring. After that, how often you fertilise depends on the plant feed you use as well as the plants in the garden. Find out more about fertilising your garden properly in our useful article.
More garden fertilisation
Close-up of a bee on white blossom

How to make your garden bee-friendly

Native flower species, a stone wall, a source of water – these are just a few features that can make your garden more bee-friendly. Our guide explains why bees are so important and how you can give these wonderful little insects a helping hand.
More about bee-friendly gardens
Close-up of weeds in lawn being removed by someone wearing yellow gloves

Identifying and removing weeds

Weeds in the garden are unavoidable, but can be effectively controlled with the right approach. In our guide, we show you how to recognise different species and remove them so your garden remains free of unwanted plants in the long term.
More about removing weeds
A woman watering plants on a roof terrace

How to design and plant a roof terrace

If you have the opportunity, a roof garden is a particularly lovely thing to design. If any part of your building has a flat roof there is lots you can do with it (always taking the structural engineering in to account, of course). The possibilities are endless!
More about roof gardens
A house with an overgrown green garden that has gone to seed

Restoring an overgrown garden 

A garden that has been left to its own devices can quickly become very overgrown. The first stage of planning such a project is to take a photo of the site as it is. Decide what has to go and what could be retained and restored. Trees and hedges, in particular, are difficult to replace later on.

Small garden with patio furniture and plant tubs in the foreground and a lawn with small garden trees and shrubs behind.

Designing a small garden

Smaller gardens can still pack a punch, and there are a number of ways to make them look larger and more interesting. Take a look at our article for some small garden inspiration.
Designing a small garden
Bed with garden plants that need little water; next to it is a wheelbarrow with soil and garden tools

Drought tolerant plants

Great for hot summers and your wallets; we show you which plants are drought tolerant and how you can save water in the garden.
Drought tolerant plants

Garden planning: what type of place and planting do you want?

There are many different types of garden; consider your own preferences and how you will use the space in future. How much time can or will you invest into it? Planning a garden that features vegetables, decorative beds and fruit trees means more long-term upkeep than a large lawn with a few small beds.

If you are starting your garden design from scratch, costs are likely to be a limiting factor. And don’t forget that a garden is a long-term project which needs to be maintained every year. You might find the best option is to plant a small area of garden to start with, while planning to later expand the beds, add a pond or vegetable patch – after all, just like nature itself, gardens are always changing.

Whether you do the whole garden at once, or let the design evolve it over time, think about what you will use different areas for. What is already there on the plot? How can you make the best of it? For example, a rock garden is a low-maintenance option where you can grow wonderful alpine plants that thrive even in dry, poorly nourished soil. But if you want to grow herbs, soil condition is key so you may need to add topsoil or enrichment.

The easiest way to start planning your garden is to write all your garden ideas down on paper. A sketch is also a great way to map out your garden design. Draw the different areas and list which plants you want to grow in future. You should also think about the general growing conditions in your space: when and where is it sunny or in shade? When you start planting, all the information you need is in your sketch.

Close-up of bumblebees on white flowers

Garden planning: making plans reality

With your design decided, you can get away from the drawing board and get outside to start your garden. Make sure you have the tools and equipment you will need. Start by creating the structure of the garden based on your plans: dig beds and lay paths, plant trees, perhaps even dig out and build a pond. If you’re aiming for a productive vegetable garden but don’t have much experience, you might just start off with some herb beds and fruit bushes. Don’t forget to include a path in your design, to make spending time in your garden even more delightful.

STIHL pro tip: To save yourself some work and delight your local bees, you can add areas of low-maintenance wildflower meadow to your garden. All that’s needed is a spot with rather thin soil and a suitable seed mix that you can find in any specialist store. It won’t be long before the bees are visiting.

Summary: garden planning and design

  • When planning a garden, the first thing to consider is the size of the plot.
  • What type of garden do you want? This decision will determine how you need to treat and prepare the soil, as well as what to plant.
  • Simple decorative flower beds need less work, while vegetable patches need more nutritious soil.
  • If you are planting a new garden, you need to be patient: the process can take months, as the new soil needs to be left in peace to settle.
  • When planning and designing your garden, remember that everything has a season: there will be different things at their peak and different garden jobs you need to do throughout the year.
  • Even a very overgrown garden can be restored – the plants will enjoy the attention!

More Tips for your garden