What Makes A Good Garden Design?

Landscape architect Phillip Merritt, of Hertzler & George in Williamsburg, recently posted a video on his blog, howitgrows, showing his landscape design approach. Taking a house and garage on a small city lot, he has digitally transformed the outdoor property into a functional and pleasing extension of the indoor space.  We fly around the digital video viewing the property from all angles, including peeking through windows from inside the house.

I was intrigued with Phillip’s video.  I am guilty of using little restraint in my gardens. Instead of a firm design plan, I depend on my instinct with all its shortcomings.  Lovely plants from various nurseries catch my eye and they go home with me.  Right now I have perhaps 6 shrubs waiting for me to decide their fate in the garden. It would be great fun to have a digital wand to wave over this property to correct mistakes and provide symmetry, balance, and all the elements of good landscape design.  Instead, I am mentally reviewing my landscape with Phillip’s tips in mind.  I think I can see future rooms and lines of sight that are waiting to be developed.  Thanks for the garden design tutorial, Phillip!  I know I have a long way to go.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

5 thoughts on “What Makes A Good Garden Design?

  1. As director of the Oxford College of garden Design, I like use the analogy of our profession being half architect half interior designer.

    A landscape designer’s approach, is first of all to design the space, as an architect would design and building, then he would furnish and decorate that space with plants, furniture and garden art as per the interior designer.

    Most gardeners do not have any three dimensional spacial design training (and are frankly not interested in this) They enjoy the soft furnishing stage, and why not?

    The trick is, when furnishing a garden remember the principle you would use inside your home. Keep things simple, avoid clutter, don’t have to many materials/colours in a small space, I could go on and on, but in short decorate your garden in the same way you decorate your home and you won’t go far wrong


    • Duncan, I enjoyed your response to my blog post. I am lacking in three dimensional spacial design knowledge in the garden but do love the furnishing. Learning to keep it simple is great advice. All will change in my gardens as I’m viewing them through newly enlightened eyes. Thanks for the instruction. I enjoyed reading your blog and seeing your website about your Oxford College of Garden Design.


  2. Thank you for responding Ann

    I hope you don’t think I was preaching! There is a lot of rubbish talked about design and I strongly believe there is nothing complicated about what we do as architects.

    Gardening is one of life’s great pleasures and can be enjoyed by both artist and agriculturalists alike.

    Have a good weekend


    • Duncan, No, I didn’t feel any preaching, only the message. You described in your Garden of the Month, the Waterperry Garden blog post that you “..wouldn’t describe Waterperry as a designed space. To me, it feels more like an evolution…” Well, I think I found a good description of my gardening style. But I am still eager to expand my understanding of garden design concepts. I agree, gardening is indeed one of life’s great pleasures!


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