Designing a garden is tough work, but somebody has to do it. If that somebody is you, take encouragement from renowned 18th-century English garden designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown, who felt that every garden was capable of being improved. To further inspire you, we've elicited design secrets from top landscape architects and garden designers across the country.
One of my most effective strategies is to make the property line less visible by echoing plants that come over the fence from the neighbour's garden.
- Janet Rosenberg, Landscape architect, Janet Rosenberg & Associates, Ontario
I often use large swaths of strong colour in the non-natural [built] elements; it's very effective in conveying a mood.
- Claude Cormier, Landscape architect, Architectes Paysagistes Inc., Quebec
People pass front gardens quickly, so I use dramatic plants, such as ornamental grasses, in large groupings to get instant impact.
- Joel Loblaw, Landscape designer, Earth Inc., Ontario
Visitors shouldn't view a garden from just one spot, so I create destinations, sometimes partially hidden, to tempt them to explore.
- David Tarrant, Television host and horticulturist, University of British Columbia
One of my goals is to balance nature and man-made materials throughout the landscape.
- Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, CM, FCSLA, FASLA, landscape architect, British Columbia
I use a lot of plants with interesting textures, such as paperbark maple [Acer griseum]. Tactile elements give the garden an added dimension, especially in the winter.
- Brian Minter, Horticulturist and owner of Minter Gardens, British Columbia
Create spaces to accommodate how you live in the garden. Don't just plan to sit on the deck and look down at it; create an area within the garden itself where you can relax and enjoy it.
- Victoria Lister Carley, Landscape architect, Ontario
My English background has given me a fondness for packed flower borders. But, because that type of border can easily look out of control, I always combine it with geometric lines to create a formality that encircles the chaos within.
- Logie Cassells, Garden designer, The Chester Gardener, Nova Scotia
Borders don't need to have all the large plants at the back and all the small ones at the front. Mixing plant sizes will give you a more natural look.
- Marjorie Mason, Author, garden designer and owner of Mason Hogue Gardens, Ontario
If you want a natural-looking water garden, take the trouble to hide infrastructure. Ponds should look as if nature put them there—with no pipes, pumps or pots showing. And, for me, those ponds need to have fish.
- Duncan Kelbaugh, Garden designer, Brunswick Nurseries, New Brunswick