Have a Garden Planning Session: Get Set for Success!

Why Do It?

Garden planning is an essential part of gardening. Whether you’re starting from scratch or just preparing for the gardening season ahead, it ensures that you’re set for success.

Maximise Space

Garden planning helps you to maximise your garden space. By planning ahead, you can determine the best use of your garden space, and you can ensure that you have enough room for all your plants.

Improve Yield

Garden planning can help you to improve the yield of your plants. By selecting the right plants for your garden and planting them in the right location, you can ensure that they receive the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients, which can lead to a better yield.

Save Time and Money

Garden planning can save you time and money. By planning ahead, you can avoid making unnecessary trips to the garden centre, and you can ensure that you have all the necessary tools and materials before you start.

Reduce Waste

Garden planning can help you to reduce waste. By planning ahead, you can determine the amount of plants you need, and you can avoid overbuying. This can help to reduce waste and save you money.

You Will Need

To have a successful garden planning session, you will need a few things to ensure that you are prepared and ready to make the most out of your time. Here are some things that I recommend having on hand:

1. A Notebook / Paper & Pen

Having a notebook or planner to write down your ideas, plans, and goals is crucial for a successful garden planning session. This will help you keep track of what you want to achieve and what steps you need to take to get there. You can also use it to keep notes on what plants you want to grow, what supplies you need to buy, and what tasks you need to complete.

2. Seed Catalogues

Having seed catalogues on hand is a great way to get inspiration for what plants you want to grow in your garden. You can use them to find new and exciting varieties of vegetables, fruits, and flowers that you may not have considered before. You can also use them to compare prices and find the best deals on seeds.

4. Gardening Books & Magazines

Having gardening books and resources on hand is an excellent way to educate yourself on the best practices for growing different plants. You can also browse books and magazies for inspirations. Remember to bookmark pages or even collect cutouts from magazines and curate your ideas.

5. Tape Measure

You’ll need this to measure your outdoor space. You can then design the optimum layout to scale on paper before getting your hands dirty!

Before You Start

Before starting a garden planning session, it’s important to take a few preliminary steps. Here are some things I like to do before diving in:

Consider Your Goals

Before getting creative, it’s really important too think about what you want from a garden. Do you want to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, or a combination of all three? Do you want to attract pollinators or create a relaxing outdoor space? How about entertaining guests or playing with the kids? You might just want somewhere to sit and read a good book. Even if you only have a small space or balcony, make a list of all the ways you’ll plan to spend time in your outdoor space.

Plan Your Budget

Before starting any garden project, it’s important to plan your budget. This includes not only the cost of plants and materials, but also any tools you’ll need to create your garden. More budget means you’ll be able to make a bigger impact withut having to wait. Less budget doesn’t mean that you can’t create your dream garden – it just means you might have to be patient and take it in stages. This is where planning can help keep you on track.


It’s worth keeping an honest awareness about your attitude to gardening and general maintenance. A lush, green oasis might be perfect for the green-fingered types, but if you just want to spend your time relaxing, then you’ll want to explore low-maintenance design ideas.

Planting Ideas

It’s worth having a think about what kind of planting you’d like to see in your garden. Of course, what you choose to grow in pots and borders can change from year to year. Hardy annuals and bulbs are a cheap and easy way to enjoy flowers through the year, but you might also like to invest in perrenials or shrubs, for the longer term. If you’re planning to grow trees or large shrubs, then it’ll be useful to factor in the eventual size when planning the layout of your garden.


To ensure a successful garden planning session, the following method should help you to stay organised and focused.

1. Measure Your Space

This is especially important when it comes to making changes to the layout of your garden. If you have a regular-shaped garden then measuring be a straight forward process of noting down the length and width. You mght also want to measure the size of any existing areas – such as a patio, lawn or decking. Record your measurements to refer to later.

2. Observe and Evaluate Your Space

Take some time to simply ‘hang-out’ in your outdoor space. Maybe have a sit in a few places and soak in the view. What can you see? What would you prefer to not see? What can you hear?

You might be able to create more privacy by adding height in some areas – such as fencing, screening or even a pergola. Have a think about what you’ll do in the garden and where.

This is also a good time to make notes about things like sunlight and aspect. In other words, which bits of the garden get the sun and at what tme of day? Are there any shady areas? There’s no point planning to sunbathe in a spot that only gets the sun for an hour or two. On the other hand, you might make use of some shade for seating or dining areas.

Also consider the soil conditions and how suitable different areas might be for growing plants or even fruit and vegetables. How about the terrain – do you have any slopes or uneven ground to contend with. Make some detailed notes for later.

3. Draw a Plan of Your Garden

Time to get creative. Draw out a scale plan of your space – ideally using some graph paper. Alteratively there are software programs and apps that can help with this.

Ideally, you’re looking to create a map of your outdoor space and include diagrams or annotations to show your observations. For example, you could mark out the sunny and shady areas, or indicate bits that are ok as they are and other areas that you’d like to redesign.

It’s good to start with the bigger, structural ideas – such as patios, decking, summer houses, raised beds or pergolas, for example.

If you have a small space or balcony garden, then it might even be as simple as planning how you’ll arrange containers for growing different plants.

Refer to your list of goals and experiement with assigning different bits of the garden for different uses or planting schemes.

4. Plan Your Planting Activities

Once you have a layout planned, you might like to start polulating your imaginary garden with planting ideas. This is where it’s useful to have some inspiration to hand – in the form of garden books, magazines and seed catalogues.

Check the advice available for your chosen plants and make sure they’ll be happy growing in the chosen area. Besides light levels, you might need to improve the soil or in exposed areas, add some protection from the cold and wind.

If you’re stuck for ideas, then the RHS Plant Finder tool is a brilliant place to start. Using this online tool you can discover plants based on a wide variety of parameters, so you can find the perfect plant for even the trickiest places!

5. Plan a Timeline

This step may or may nt be suitable for your plan, but you might find it useful to start planning a timeline for your gardening activities. There are certain times of the year that are better suited for certain jobs. For example, sowing seeds, planting bare root shrubs and trees, or carrying out groundworks could all get a bit stuck if you time it wrong.

If you have a busy lifestyle and hope to go for the ‘little and often’ approach, then having a timeline planned can be a great way to keep on track and stay motivated.

It’s also useful for making sure you have everything you need before starting to do jobs. It can be so frustrating wasting a sunny weekend, trudging around the DIY shop or garden centre because you forgot to order the supplies you need in advance.

In this video, Jack Wallington shares some great tips for planning your perfect garden – including the creation of a ‘mood board’, made from magazine clippings.

Some Ideas for Inspiration

When planning your garden, it’s important to consider what you want to achieve and what will work best for your space. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

Create a Theme

One way to make your garden stand out is to create a theme. This could be a colour scheme, a particular style, or even taking inspiration from one of your favourite holiday destinations. For example, you could create a cottage garden with lots of wildflowers, a modern garden with clean lines and minimalist features, or a lush green, tropical oasis.

Maximise Your Space

If you have a small garden, you’ll need to be creative with your space. Consider using vertical planting techniques, such as hanging baskets or trellises, to make the most of your walls and fences. Use bold features and use height to create a feeling of more space. You could also use raised beds or containers to grow your plants, which can be moved around to create different layouts.

Add a Water Feature

A water feature can add a calming and relaxing element to your garden. This could be a pond, a fountain, or even a small stream. Not only will it look beautiful, but it will also attract wildlife such as birds and insects.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own vegetables and herbs is a great way to save money and eat fresh, healthy produce. Consider creating a vegetable patch or herb garden, and make sure you choose plants that will thrive in your climate and soil type.

Consider Wildlife

Creating a garden that is beneficial to wildlife is not only good for the environment, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. You could plant flowers that attract bees and butterflies, or install a bird feeder or bird bath to encourage birds to visit your garden.

Make An Outdoor Gym

Whether it’s yoga, pilates, star jumps or free-weights… working out in the fresh air is a great stress buster. Not only that, but creating an outdoor gym area might be cheaper than a monthly gym subscription in the long run.


  • Planning is an essential step towards having a ‘successful’ garden
  • Maximise space and improve yields
  • Saves time and money – avoids waste
  • Think about goals first – how will you use your outdoor space
  • Take time to evaluate what you have – the space and the conditions
  • Create a plan on paper before getting stuck in
  • Use garden books, magazines and seed catalogues for inspiration
  • Add height for added prvacy and to give your garden more structure
  • For a unique look, consider choosing a garden theme
  • Work with nature and enjoy visits from local wildlife

What are you planning in your garden? How’s it all been going? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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