Guest Author: Lynne McLaughlan, Garden Designer.

Research shows that gardens make us happier and healthier; they increase our sense of well being, increase our appreciation of nature and have an overall positive effect on the environment. Not only does a well laid out garden bring enjoyment to the owner, it adds to the value of the property, enhances the kerbside appeal, and brings pleasure to many people who pass by. How often have you retraced your steps, trying to find a garden you viewed briefly when driving by in a hurry? It only takes 10 seconds to form a first impression and decide if we like something.

Every garden will be unique with its own advantages and limitations, different aspects, soils, shape, size, owner tastes and style. But despite this the principles of good design to enhance the appeal remains the same.

The saying less is more is never truer than when related to an aesthetically pleasing garden. Resist the temptation to go to the garden centre and buy one of everything, this only creates chaos. Our eyes can’t find anything to focus on and it causes confusion. Limit the selection to around six different species planting in groups of three, five or seven, or plant in drifts.

Trees play a very important part in the landscape. No matter how large or small your property, a tree will help to get the scale and proportion right. A garden that gets the scale right is always visually pleasing.

With the size of the average block decreasing and 2 story homes built to take advantage of this, it is even more important to include a tree or two. Pyrus calleryana 'Capital' and Pyrus cerasifera ‘Oakville Crimson Spire’ are both great trees to use in restricted spaces, they look magnificent pleached. Pleaching is a wonderful way to utilize a narrow space and yet still get height and gain privacy. The trees are planted close together about 1m apart so the canopies join creating a hedge in the sky, but still allowing for under planting around the trunks. There are many small to medium trees that will soften the façade without taking up too much space. Another versatile, beautiful narrow tree is Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear'. If you are lucky enough to have a larger garden then trees are essential, but try to have one recurring species amongst others, this will create repetition throughout the garden.

Maybe consider eliminating the lawn, create beds with crushed granite paths meandering around the site. Not only will this greatly increase the planting area, you will be doing your bit for the environment by cutting down on water usage. Perfume for those who do not have allergies, is always a magical addition to any garden, plant along pathways that lead to the front door. Add a focal point, a feature pot picking up on colour and style of the house.

Remember a well-planned garden has a far-reaching impact on the greater community, and brings pleasure to many who may pass by. It only takes 10 seconds to create that first impression – make it a great one!

Want some help creating the perfect garden? Our team of Garden Designers can help! More information.