A properly designed garden combines plants that provide balance, solve problems, and accentuate features you want highlighted. Don't confuse a balanced garden with a formal garden; with a little planning, the garden can appear natural and spontaneous while still being very organized. To achieve a visually well-balanced garden, you should distribute plants evenly so one side or area does not appear to overpower the others, which will permit your gaze to flow from one side to the other. The use of a simple drawing will help you place your plants in locations that achieve balance. Another suggestion to preventing a busy mish-mash is to use a single type of plant, or plants that have the same color, repeatedly through the design layout.
Another trait of contemporary gardens is the use of varied types of plants in the design scheme. The motivation behind this creative element is to produce interest and surprise in your garden. Mixing bold plants with pleasing colors, large with small, or coarse with smooth gives contrast and helps to distinguish individual plants. Also, be sure to keep texture in mind. Since most plants do not flower all season long, unique foliage adds to the overall look of the garden.
Design Tip: Establish a focal point or plant to highlight in your garden. This should be an object that is larger or of a different color to attract interest such as garden art, a fountain, or a bench. Once you establish this part of your design, the plants can then be placed in locations to draw your eye to the featured item. So, where do you start? First, determine the plants you want to use and then start matching their growth requirements to the areas in which you want to plant. Look at bloom times, so your garden always has color. Vary your heights and make sure the tall growing plants are towards the back and the shortest plants are nearer to the front.
Start Now
Finally, now's a great time to start adding new structures like flowerbeds, arbors, walkways, decks, etc. that will be a part of your newly designed garden. With these in place, all that's left when it's time to plant is to put the plants where they belong.
If you plan your garden and have everything ready when it's time to plant, you can make planting and maintaining your garden fun for all of your family and friends. Just sit back and let your neighbors admire your beautiful home.
Fall Color
There are many plants that provide color through late summer, the fall and up to early winter (or your first frost). Here is a short list of a few plants that should do well in your fall garden (remember to check them against your zone to ensure the best performance):
  • Asters
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Ornamental Kale
  • Rudbeckia
  • Russian Sage
  • Sedum
  • Spider Lilies
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia)
Not Just Color
There are many plants that bloom in other seasons that can still provide beauty to your garden in the fall and winter. Some, like lavender, will provide color in the warmer seasons and beautiful foliage in the cooler seasons. Others, like the holly, provide green (and sometimes variegated) leaves all year long and splashes of color depending on the plant and the time of the year. Finally, trees like the Birch and Crape Myrtle provide green and/or color when it's warmer and beautiful bark during the colder times of the year.
  • Euonymus (some are evergreen - some provide color at various times of the year)
  • Nandina
  • Weigela
  • Forsythia
  • Ligustrum
  • Holly
  • Boxwood
  • Juniper (depending on the plant, they can be groundcover, privacy screens or borders)
  • Arborvitae 'Green Giant'
  • Birch Tree
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Cypress
Early Winter/Early Spring
Although few plants are going to give you flowers in the coldest of winter, some will provide blooms up to the early parts of Winter or some so early in the Spring that it still feels like Winter.
  • Crocus (late winter - early spring)
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborous)
  • Loropetalum
  • Pansy
  • Spirea
Explore your options. Our goal here is not to suggest specific plants for your fall and Winter garden, but to open your mind to the idea that your garden can still be beautiful when the cold weather moves in. Make sure you know your zone and then look for plants that, in your area, will do well into the winter or start very early in the spring. Throw in plants that stay green all year, have interesting bark, or other winter attributes, and with a little planning, your garden can be the envy of your neighbors year round.

Garden Design