improve garden design

10 Quick Ways to Improve Your Garden Design

Let’s admit it – we all have our lazy moments when it comes to garden design. Huge projects that require weeks of time and effort (and often a high budget) get an instant pass from me. However, that should not equate to neglecting garden design altogether. Here are a few small improvements guaranteed to make you look like a garden design guru in 30 minutes or less.

  1. Group outdoor pots together in threes The famous Rule of Three says things are inherently more interesting, enjoyable, and memorable when presented in threes. This rule goes as far back as ancient times when the Romans used the phrase omne trium perfectum – ‘everything that comes in threes is perfect’. Lazy gardeners can co-opt this rule by grouping outdoor pots together in threes. Take it a step further by grouping pots of three different sizes in a patio corner or near your front door. So simple, yet so much more pleasing to the eye.
  1. Prune, prune, prune! There is something powerful about pruning. Armed with shears, a gardener goes from a tender carer to a maniacal plant dictator, lopping off tree limbs with glee. Not only is this great for the plants (unless you get carried away), it instantly ups your garden-design game. Regular pruning promotes growth and gives you the chance to remove pesky dead leaves and branches that taint the garden’s image. Crown lifting, removing the lower branches from trees and shrubs, also improves the shape and makes your entire garden look neater.
  1. Edging beds Edging a garden bed is like framing a picture. It also has the practical benefit of separating the bed soil from the rest of the garden, and the design benefit of creating neat patterns that make you look like a pro. Think of it as the cherry on top of your garden design cake. It may not be the quickest task on this list, but it is one of the most impactful.
  1. Bring the indoors outside We know that the phrase ‘bring the outdoors inside’ is a bit old hat, so let’s turn this one on its head. Dressing up outdoor areas with indoor furnishings takes mere minutes but gives the appearance of a thoroughly thought out garden design plan. Add some old pillows and blankets to a seating area, or make use of that rolled-up rug collecting dust in the garage to transition seamlessly from the indoors to the outdoors. Choose some hardy furnishings, or ones you do not mind losing, as they may take some damage being left outside.
  1. Cover fences with climbers The ultimate lazy gardener trick: make the plants do your work for you. That is one of the reasons climbers are so great: after one short weekend planting stint, you can add a classy, highly soughtafter design element to your garden with minimal effort. Climbers grow to cover any unsightly walls or open fences and make a big impact when they do.
  1. Add a simple bench Even if your garden is falling apart completely, plonking a bench in the centre can make the surrounding chaos seem almost intentional. After all, how would guests enjoy your new garden design without a place to sit? You can easily DIY a bench from a few scraps of wood and some bricks, a couple of pallets, or some old indoor furniture. You could also spend your 30 minutes running to the shop to buy one instead – up to you.
  1. Scrub the patio More cleaning? Unfortunately, yes. This task requires more elbow grease than the pot scrubbing, but the result is incredibly satisfying. The tool junkies will have a pressure cleaner somewhere, so if you are one or know one, put it to good use. Those who have limited networking contacts in the underground pressure cleaner scene will have to whip out the trusty bucket and sponge. Trust me, it is worth it.
  1. Cull your dead plant collection Nobody’s perfect: we all have skeletons in the closet. For gardeners, those are usually plant skeletons. Every garden has plants that are barely getting by or have long passed their sell-by date, and now is the time to cut them loose. Digging up dying plants gives your garden design an instant facelift and leaves space for other plants to shine in your new, low-effort garden design plan.
  1. Mow the lawn Mowing is a necessary task on everyone’s garden maintenance list, so this one might be obvious: there is no denying the difference a freshly mowed lawn can make to the overall image of a garden. Those who tend to slack off in this department are missing out on a simple design fix that makes a world of difference.
  1. Scrub the pots We all know that cleaning is incredibly boring. However, it is a necessity for a reason: an annual pot-cleaning session can take all your pots back to that pristine, newly planted look that we all love. Get together a pot, some warm water, detergent and a scrubbing brush, and get to work! Here’s a pro tip for the extra lazy: you can always cheat and only clean the parts of the pot that are visible! You get the same effect with less effort.

Fellow lazy gardeners, the time for upping our garden design game is now! Or on second thought, maybe we should start tomorrow…

The Gardener