The first of the Basic Gardening Principles is effective planning and design. Without a plan and a good, well thought-out design, you won’t be as pleased with the final product, your garden. Essential elements of the plan include your overall garden management statement, what you desire in a garden, and how you will use your garden, its function. The planning step takes the most time in the making of the garden.
For the average home owner, designing a beautiful garden could be even a more daunting task than preparing soil or learning about the characteristics of plants. We don't have the advantage of college design classes or natural born talent. If a person can afford to hire a landscape architect or designer, that is the preferred way to go. One can still plan and design a garden pleasing to oneself with study and observation. There are many examples of beautifully designed gardens in magazines and books. In the end, one decides what works according to their garden management statement, their needs and uses, their environment and budget. I cannot possibly relate everything you'd need to know about design and style that many people spend years learning and perfecting. What I offer here are some brief generalities of design, style and gardening theories that I hope will help you plan and think more concisely.
Gardening according to location is often called micro-niche gardening. Each location contains many microclimates, or micro niches. Unless you have a flat plain with no trees, buildings, walls or boulders, you will have a variety of microclimates to work with. Micro-niche gardening is a key component of Xeriscape gardening, particularly in the use of water. Hydro-zoning is the grouping of plants together in beds according to their water needs. Garden beds and borders can be planned by grouping plants together according to water, soil, sun, growth potential, temperature and wind protection needs as well. A low maintenance garden is often a garden in which the plants are not only well placed in the landscape, but an indication of the knowledge and expertise of the gardener.
Whether or not the global warming trends continue, two things that are nearly certain, our region will continue to be semi-arid and current water resources will diminish. If you are contemplating an overhaul of a bed, border or the entire landscape, I hope conserving water will be an objective. The best and easiest way to achieve water conservation in the landscape is to build water saving, rather than water hungry, features into it during the plan and design stage.