DIY Design

Becki Smith, Landscape Consultant, Cambria Nursery

What are some ideas you'd like to share with homeowners about home garden design?
Your garden is a personal space, so gather your impressions and your preferences before you begin your project. How much time do you spend outside? Do you want to create an outdoor living room for yourself, or do you want to love looking outside through your window? What do you find comfortable?

How much hardscape should someone include?
Hardscape adds flow and structure to your garden, so start with those pieces. Your budget will determine how much you can add, but it’s still important; don’t underestimate the importance of structure! Take tours of other gardens to get a sense of how much hardscape you like, and if you enjoy a particular style.

Any additional tips?
As a gardener, don’t be afraid to change your style. You change and grow as a person, and your tastes do too.

Learn more about Becki and Cambria Nursery at


Carla Wingett, Landscape Designer, Flora and Fauna Design

How do you know which plants to put next to one another in a landscape design?
I come up with a plant palette for the garden before placing them in specific spots by making a collage of them all together. All of the plants should look good together for good flow. I then use my selections in large swaths, because plants have a much better impact in large groups.

What steps can a homeowner take to make their garden more ecological?
Choose plants adapted to your area, which will thrive on the natural rainfall and climate, so that you don't have to use as many resources to keep it up. Cover your ground with plants or mulch to retain moisture, stop erosion and regulate temperature. Once your garden has grown in, it should need little or no outside resources.

What other tips can you share?
Plant vegetables! I can't think of a better way to use a garden than to grow yummy, healthy, cheap food!

View Carla’s work at


Kaveh Maguire, Landscape Designer

What design techniques do you employ when creating a garden?
Have fun with color, texture, and shape! Trying to find harmonious complimentary or contrasting colors is great for creating moods in the garden. Shape and texture are also very important. For example, having three upright spiky plants in a row might not be very exciting. Try replacing one of those spiky plants with something with big round flowers and the other one with a plant with soft, arching stems that blow in the breeze.

What elements are crucial in for someone designing their own garden?
I think the most important thing is creating a garden that you will love spending time in. Try to get an idea of what you like, whether it is a certain style of garden, a specific plant, or a color. Also, finding out what you don’t like can be just as important. After I have drawn out my initial concept I like to do an imaginary walk-through of the garden down each path and walkway, taking in the views from specific vantage points or looking out windows of the house.

Any last tips?
A well-grown plant in full bloom is always lovely to see in a garden but the gardens that really make an impact, the ones you remember later, are the ones with thoughtful plant combinations.

Kaveh is a horticulturist and garden designer who blogs at

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