The other day while I was in the backyard with the kids running amok around me, I decided my yard needed to be more than just a patch of grass that we slap a trampoline on and let the kids have at it; I needed some landscaping ideas!
With little kids to care for and having just moved into our current location. Plus all the distractions that go along with schools, holidays, family events, etc, it got pushed so far to the back of the priority list, that I literally forgot that decorating it was even an option! Ha!
Personally, decorating a space is usually not something I have to be reminded to do. So now I was in a pickle.
I had found a new space to decorate, but landscaping is quite different from interior design, due to the nature of nature.
I knew that once I understood some of the basic concepts of landscaping I would feel much more confident working with what I had available. This was to both keep costs down and avoid a cookie-cutter copy and paste of the examples online. A lot of the details of landscaping tend to be based on the preferences of the one designing it.
With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite landscaping ideas! These will help with large or small gardens, potted or in-ground plants, and will work on both patios or balconies! I will let you know how my yard landscaping project goes!
Define the Frame
Probably the biggest component, in my opinion, is deciding where your frame will be. Wait… I thought a frame was something you put around a picture?
Well, yes, but in the same concept of framing a picture on the wall, your garden space will have its own frame, and unlike the ones on the wall, it is invisible. The frame is the space you’d like to fill with whatever type of landscaping you are working with.
For example, a patio or balcony is actually the best way to visualize the frame, because in most cases, you have pre-existing borders. Obviously, the ground/floor is going to be the bottom of your frame (with few exceptions, but we will address those later).
The ceiling/roof/awning will be the top of your frame, and the walls/pillars/end of the structure will be the sides.
Once you feel comfortable with landscape design, there are ways to extend the frame beyond what the patio/balcony but for the purposes of our explanation, we will stay within the bounds of the physical barriers provided by the structure. (Side note: things like fences, corners, and pre-existing plants like trees or shrubbery can also be considered “structures”.)
One thing to note as well is that a planter provides it’s own frame, make sure to take into account the space behind the planter to make sure you are incorporating everything that will visually be within the frame.
Have an idea of where the beginning and end are to the space you want to design, that way you don’t just end up heavy on one position or the other without something to balance it. Don’t worry, we will get to balance too!
Understand the Frame
When the area you are landscaping is against a fence, you usually use the top of the fence as the top of the frame.
A lattice can also be added. Planting next to the actual fence itself is not recommended for any long term garden plants. This is due to the fact that plants can and often do end up warping or shifting fences.
This could create a need to replace the fence, and often pruning back more of the plant than you want to in order to get to the fence to fix it.
You don’t have to stick with the standard gardening supplies to fill in upper portion of the frame.
Pull in elements of outdoor living, like an umbrella or tiki torch. Or even get whimsical with it and go for something like an old-fashioned lamp post, or an antique farm tool, or even a discarded bathtub!
A tree or shrubbery line can also act as a frame for you. The bottom of the foliage of the tree can act as the top of your frame, as well as the top of the line of shrubbery.
You can also make the vertical height of the frame be considerably lower than the area of the frame like in this example. The small shrubbery create a physical frame for the flowers inside!
Fill the Frame
Now that the frame is defined, it is time to fill the frame.
Most importantly, you want your frame to be balanced. That doesn’t mean an equal amount of stuff here as there, but rather that your space is balanced.
For example lets say if you have a corner of the balcony that will have a couple pots, one with climbing vines, and one with draping greenery both in the same corner. Then you need something to balance the other corners, and maybe the opposite upper corner of the frame.
A couple lawn chairs in the middle of the balcony, and a small table on the opposite side of the balcony with a lamp, outdoor fan, or other taller feature that will allow you to visually balance the frame you have to work with.
As with all forms of art, you can absolutely use negative space as a balance, its used quite frequently in landscaping! Don’t worry if your frame only takes up the bottom 20% of the larger frame. (The side of the house or fence line etc.)
As long as your plants and ornaments fill the frame in a balanced manner, you will end up with a captivating and beautiful landscape.
Once you’ve determined your frame and understand how to balance that frame, look to the details you want to highlight within the frame. After you have decided on the details, you can fill in your plants!
Choose Your Overall “Look”
When you have figured out the basics of how you want the space to look design-wise, you can really hone in on the “look” that you want! Do you want a large amount of color?
Do you feel like the color isn’t as important as the varying textures? Are you looking for a perennial or an annual garden? Is the coverage of the space more important?
Consider the plants types and the location of your space in regard to the amount of sun, drainage, and windbreaks. For more details on how to go about putting together a new garden space, you can find those here.
Once you have the look and function of your space, there is one more detail… the details. As with most things, it’s the details that distinguish the basic from the brilliant!
Consider Luring a Fairy to Your Newly Designed Landscape
No matter the culture or the location, the fairy folk are a part of legend and lore all over the world!
What is one of my favorite things to bring that little something special? Making my garden seem like its own tiny hidden world!
Adding fairy houses, tools, or even simple walkways can say so much and lend a sense of mystery! You can even purchase kits that will provide you all you need for whatever theme you are looking to convey.
There’s everything from vegetable garden fairy kits with tiny fairy baskets and tiny tools, to tiny kitchen tables and flatware! You have endless possibilities with fairy gardens!
No matter what you choose to do with your space, I truly hope these landscaping ideas have helped! Do you have any questions or ideas? Please feel free to comment and share your gardening and landscaping journey with us below!