How To Plan A Garden from Scratch

After years of continual upkeep, gardens can often get to a point where we feel like we’re going around in circles. On the flip side, if upkeep has been neglected, you may find you have more of a jungle than a relaxing outdoor space. So much so that, sometimes, the only thing we can do is start from the beginning.

Whether you’ve just moved into a brand-new house with a totally blank canvas, or you’ve recently landscaped your existing garden ridding it of any prior resemblance, you’ll need to know how to plan a layout to get the most from your new space.

To help you unlock your garden’s true potential, we’ve created this guide around how to plan a brand new garden, breaking things down by different sizes to ensure there’s something for everyone.

Garden Size Classifications

mature garden with backdrop of trees

First things first, let’s set some parameters. To make the most of this guide, it helps to align yourself with our thinking to ensure the advice can be applied to your own circumstances. So, the first thing we’ll look to address here is size. Specifically, which size categories there are, and the measurements underpinning them.

For argument’s sake, here’s how we classify each garden size:

• Small: Under 100sqm
• Medium: 100-200sqm
• Large: 200sqm+

The rationale here being that a tennis court measures around 260sqm. Anything under this is categorised as either a small or medium garden, while spaces larger than this are on the large to extra-large sizes.

How to plan a garden layout

So, now that our sizes are set, it’s time to explore the ins and outs of planning a brand-new garden space.

Step 1: Measure Your Space

Before you get in to planning furniture, plants and flower arrangements, it helps to know exactly what kind of space you’re working with. Is it a small, medium or big space? While eyeballing things is a quick and easy measure, having specific numbers to work with allows you to get much more strategic with your choices.

Break out a measuring tape, grab a notebook and start taking down some initial measurements of your own garden.

Step 2: Consider Your Garden Positioning

Depending on the way your house and garden is pointing, you’ll be able to enjoy different aspects of sunrise and sunset. South-facing gardens are notoriously great for enjoying sunshine all day long, whereas North-facing gardens benefit from increased amounts of shade.

Identifying which way your garden is pointing will allow you to make much more informed decisions around where you place greenery. If your garden is particularly shady, it could be worth investing in flowers that don’t require a lot of sunlight, and vice-versa.

Step 3: Designate a Seating Area

Kettler Charlbury Casual Dining Sofa Set

What use is a garden if you have no space to enjoy it? Arguably the most important part of having a garden is segmenting a specific section to be used purely for seating. This is where guests will gather during parties, and where you’ll be sat gazing out at the world for hours at a time. As such, it pays off to plan seating arrangements before aesthetics to ensure you won’t be cramped.

With your space designated, now it’s time to choose the right furniture set. Larger spaces will benefit most from full outdoor dining sets like the Charlbury Casual Dining Sofa Set (pictured), while smaller spaces could be better suited to bistro sets. You can also bring the indoors out by setting up a pergola. Just remember that pergolas require even more space than just the space for your furniture.

Step 4: Consider Storage space

While not the most exciting of garden features, storage is another invaluable element of any functional garden. Particularly for smaller gardens, where space is at a premium, it certainly pays to account for ample storage facilities in your new garden space.

If your garden’s too small for a shed, you could always look at clever storage boxes that can be repurposed as other pieces of furniture like seating. That way you’ll ensure complete utilisation of the space that you do have.

Step 5: Sketch a Draft Layout

Now that you have the absolute essentials in place, it’s time to get one step closer to realising your dream garden. Sketches are great for this, as they give you a quick glimpse towards how your garden will look from a bird’s eye view.

Not only are sketches great for visualisation, they’re an invaluable briefing tool for contractors also. The best part is, there’s no need to be a fully qualified architect; just include approximate measurements and annotate things as clearly as you can.

Step 6: Set a Budget

When you’re lost in creative freedom, it can be easy to get swept up in the thrill and find yourself making unnecessary expenditures. Fast forward to the end of your project and it’s likely you’ll have spent much more than you initially expected. This is why a strong and strict budget is an absolute necessity when planning a garden.

When working on your garden, there’s no knowing what will be uncovered in the process, so this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go over this budget if needed. Afterall, we can only plan so much. A contingency fund of around 10% is advisable.

Step 7: Contact Contractors

This step all depends on the scale of your project but designing a garden doesn’t have to mean doing all the work yourself. This is especially true if you’re thinking of completely relandscaping.

Don’t feel ashamed to reach out to qualified contractors for some help. Not only will they have access to the tools you need, but they may even be able to give you some insider knowledge around structural decisions.

Step 8: Establish Timescales

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither will your dream garden!

Perfection takes time and consideration, so be sure to account for any potential delays in your planning period. While we can’t anticipate everything, it’s a good idea to account for an extra 10% of the overall project time to unforeseen problems. Doing this not only alleviates pressure from yourself – it also keeps your expectations in check.

Step 9: Remember Garden Maintenance

Creating the garden of your dreams is exciting, but remember; when all this work is done, you’ll still be left with upkeep. Depending on the scale of your plan, you may be left with more maintenance for your new garden compared to before, so do take time to consider how much attention is needed to keep things looking tip top.

If you’re looking for low maintenance, courtyards and artificial grass may be a handy solution as they do not require mowing. Whatever you decide, considering ongoing maintenance is useful for planning strategically placed gardening tools. For example, if you now have a particularly large patio area, it could be a good idea to keep a jet wash nearby to fight against gradual discolouration.

Create Your Dream Garden with Kettler

With your garden sorted, it’s time to fill it with some durable garden furniture. Struggling to sort through your options? Have a browse through our garden furniture buying guides where we share the information you need to make the right choice.