Gardening Design Ideas and Tips

With Spring right around the corner it is never too early to start planning your garden… For those gardeners looking to be more innovative this year, we recommend using a special theme to help you design your garden.

The Zen Garden

A Zen garden or Japanese rock garden is an enclosed shallow sandpit containing sand, gravel, rocks, and occasionally grass or other natural elements. The main elements of a rock garden are rocks and sand, with the sea symbolized not by water but by sand raked in patterns that suggest rippling water. Plants are much less important (and sometimes non-existent) in many rock gardens. Rock gardens are often, but not always, meant to be viewed from a single, seated perspective, and the rocks are often associated with and named after various Chinese mountains.

We recommend this option if you have an unused shady lot on your property. Instead of trying to fight nature, clean up an area that would normally not support a garden.

Trial Garden

A trial garden is a test garden where gardeners try out new types of plant and/or vegetables. Any gardener might enjoy creating his or her own trial garden to see which plants fare best in a specific garden environment. Gardeners can evaluate their test plants for desirable qualities such as novel flower forms, flower colors, flower show above foliage, fragrance, length of flowering season, and disease or pest tolerances or resistance. Vegetables and fruits should be judged for such traits as speed to harvest, total yield, fruit taste, fruit quality, ease of harvest, plant habit, disease, and pest resistance.

By choosing to make a trial garden for a season, a gardener can improve their garden for years to come. This is a great way to find out how much work certain plants require and if they will flourish in your garden.

Virtual Garden

While researching this garden I found a great tool that lets you plan your garden on your computer. You can become your own landscape architect and easily add or remove plants and items from your virtual garden. The program comes in three versions available from the BBC… an online version and both a PC and Mac version which you can use offline. The program lets you save your gardens so that you can work on it when you have some free time. I love the idea because it allows you save your garden designs and compare them with the final product. Click here for the Virtual Garden.

Hose Reels

Another great idea for designing your garden is to get a hose reel. I recommend a No-Crank hose reel for design and watering purposes. No-Crank hose reels will keep your garden aesthetically pleasing and with the automatic hose reel rewinder you will never have to leave your hose laying in the yard again. No-Crank hose reels come in a wide variety of styles; I like the Country Hose Reel model, a wooden box which blends nicely into most gardens.

Ariel is a writer for To learn more about winter gardening, please visit

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