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Gardening: ​6 ways to plan the perfect garden

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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It's not always easy to know where to start when it comes to the garden, but with the right planning it's pretty easy. 

Is there anything better than some exterior therapy? No, we do not mean making your shrink move that comfy couch outside, as digging in dirt also presents ample opportunity for renewing mental and physical health. 

Simply look at history. Medical physicians in ancient Egypt prescribed walks through gardens to improve mental wellbeing. And the classic monks trusted their gardens to soothe world-weary travellers. 

Although we are not suggesting that you invite strangers into your garden for relaxation purposes, we do want to state that, although chock-a-block with health benefits, gardening does present numerous elements that need considering. 

However, trust homify to narrow it down to beautiful basics!

Foundation plantings

The small trees and shrubs planted around the perimeter of the house are known as foundation plantings. These elements serve to soften the straight, harsh lines of the building and ease the transition from the house to the exterior garden and lawn areas.

So then, what does that mean for you, aspiring gardener? Choose trees and shrubs that look good year-round, and that won’t grow too large for their chosen spots. Plant them in places where they won’t grow into the house, obstruct your views, damage the foundation with their roots, or block entrances when they mature.  

Evergreens are ideal choices, as they work in cold climates and continue to keep their foliage and colour throughout the year. Want to be the envy of your street? Decorate your front garden with several yews in a perfect row, and add a tall evergreen on the corner of your house. Timeless. Striking. Perfect.


Before you plant, you must first plan. As in what you want (and don’t want) in your garden trees. Consider the following when it comes to your trees: height; width; bark texture; form; fruit or berries; flowers; when its leaves will drop and over what period of time; seasonal colour; possible diseases; climate suitability; how much shade it will provide when fully grown; pruning requirements; and sun-, soil- and water needs. 

Crabapple trees, for example, are famous for their colourful, fragrant springtime blooms. But should you not choose a sterile variety, it will produce thousands of little fruits, which can litter grounds and pavements. 

Trees may be evergreen or deciduous (meaning they lose their leaves seasonally, usually in autumn). And while evergreens are ideal for gardeners who want some fresh greens all year round, deciduous trees ensure some colour variety throughout the year.


What will you use for borders in your garden? Shrubs? Shrub borders are low-maintenance alternatives to flower borders.

When picking your shrub, consider other characteristics besides size, such as flowers or berries; bloom time; leaf form; seasonal colour; sun-, soil-, and water requirements; and pruning needs. 

Like trees, shrubs are classified as either evergreen or deciduous. And even if you opt for a small-sized one, it can still fill an entire landscape with flowers, fragrance, greenery, colour and fantastic form.   

homify hint: Need a teeny, tiny shrub wall? Dwarf shrubs grow no more than 3 feet tall. Dwarfs are ideal for containers and planters, in rock gardens, as groundcovers, and in tight places. Dwarf shrubs are no more delicate than larger shrubs and are treated the same way.

Seeking a professional green thumb? Be sure to see the ever-growing variety of gardeners we have gathered here on homify.


Groundcovers require less maintenance than a lawn, which makes them excellent choices for areas that receive little traffic. Nearly any low-growing, spreading plant can be used for groundcover. The thicker and more vigorously a groundcover grows, the less weeding and watering it will need.  

When selecting a groundcover, consider height and spread; foliage colour throughout the year; thickness of growth habit; resistance to diseases; as well as soil-, water-, and sun needs. But in addition to these factors, you will also need to find out how well your chosen groundcover will co-exist with other plants it will be sharing its space with—certain types of groundcover are so vigorous, they are capable of choking out less aggressive plants. 

Well-known choices for groundcover include ajuga (bugleweed), hedera (ivy), hosta (plantain lilies), lily-of-the valley, pachysandra, spreading juniper, and vinca (periwinkle).

To go with those fabulous flower selections of yours, we have: 6 Gorgeous Garden Statues.

Perennials and annuals

Perennial plants live for longer than two years, blooming for two weeks or even all season long, depending on the species. Although they are initially more expensive, they are the more cost-effective choice over time. 

An annual plant completes its life cycle within one year, and then dies. They are less expensive than perennials initially, but must be replaced each year. A few species start blooming in late winter or early spring, but the majority bloom in mid- to late spring, providing colour for months. 

An efficient nursery should feature species that are easiest to grow in your region, but remember to ask the major questions, which include: sun-, soil-, and water needs; how long it blooms; what the flower looks like; and any diseases or pests that threaten it. 

homify hint: A third category, biennial plants, live for two growing seasons before setting seed and dying.


Along with lushness and greenery, vines add a magical touch to a garden. They use very little ground space, are incredibly useful in creating privacy, hiding eyesores, and enhancing a small garden into a striking space.

Whether you choose an annual or perennial vine, you need to pay attention to how it will attach itself to its support. Some vines (such as morning glories, wisteria, honeysuckle) twine, while others (clematis, grapes, most sweet peas) send out tendrils. 

Still others (such as trumpet creeper, ivies, climbing hydrangea) cling with “holdfasts” or tiny suction cups. The clinging types are somewhat permanent and are suitable only for brick, stone, and other surfaces that are virtually maintenance-free. 

Growth greatly varies. Certain vines, such as large-flowered clematis, take two or three years to reach just six to ten feet. Others, such as wisteria, grow that much in a year, reaching 40 feet or more, so make sure you opt for only the strongest supports when choosing this one.

Happy gardening!

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