Community Gardens – Design Characteristics of Your Garden

Community Gardens – Design Characteristics of Your Garden

Article by Pamela Ravenwood

In our last four articles we have been discussing what it takes to create a community garden, how to divide up chores, how to maintain your garden, feed your garden and protect it from pests.

In today’s article we will discuss ways to design your garden and what kinds of characteristics you can add to your community garden to make it interesting.

If you have never put together a design for your garden or any garden, there are a few strategies to follow that are helpful. Thinking ahead of time how your garden will look and how you will lay it out will save you a lot of time and work, in having to rework things.

What design elements should you consider when planning your garden? Here are a few things to take into consideration:

* Scale – Scale is evaluating your garden’s plant sizes relative to one another. When deciding where to place elements in your garden, it is important to think about their scale, or relative size difference. While size differences can add emphasis to certain elements of a garden, they may also lead to smaller plants or garden features being overlooked.* Form – Form is basically the shape of any element that you are putting in your garden. Plant forms can be circular, columnar, pyramidal, spreading, weeping, etc. Plants of similar form can be used to contrast or harmonize each other to add visual interest to the garden.* Color – We all love color and there is so much you can do in laying out your garden in regards to a plant’s color – not only its flowers but also its leaves. There are many complex theories out there to help you decide which colors to use, use your intuition. Remember colors can impact people’s moods, so figure out what kind of feeling you are going for? Something dramatic or soothing.* Texture – All garden elements have some sort of texture that can be experienced through sight or touch. Texture can add mood or emotion to a garden – smooth, fine textures are visually subdued and formal, while coarse, rough textures are visually dominant and informal.* Scent – There are many fragrant flowers, herbs and plants one can use in their garden in order to provide just the right scent. Herbs such as dill, basil, oregano, and thyme have strong, recognizable fragrances, and can be experienced best when placed at garden edges or along walkways. The subtler scents of plants such as tomatoes, melons, and raspberries can also add interest to the garden experience.

Now that you have looked at the elements to include in planning your garden or to at least consider, let’s look at design. Design will help impact the look and feel of your garden. These include:

* Line -Artistically line is important. Line is an element that can appear in a garden in any number of ways, and works to help guide the eye through a garden. For example, a horizontal line, like a row of low plants, will draw someone’s eye across a garden, while a vertical line, like a tree or tall arbor, will draw their eyes up. * Repetition -Repetition is important as it brings consistency and emphasis to your garden. You can duplicate certain characteristic in your garden, like color, texture, form or line. * Variety – With repetition is also variety. Mixing of different colors, forms, and textures helps in a garden to add visual excitement. When thinking about variety, it is important to consider how the garden will look in all seasons. Variety can also be overdone, however, and too many design elements may lead to a chaotic outcome. Balancing repetition and variety is an artistic challenge, but one with rewarding results.* Focus -Creating a focal point is not only an artistic element you can add to your garden but also helps the viewer find a place to rest the eye. A focal point can be something as simple as a unique plant or a water feature. In a larger garden, you can use several focal points to guide a visitor through the space.* Transition – When using several design elements in a garden, it is useful to create a transition, or gradual change, from on element to another. Grouping plants that move gradually from very low plants to progressively higher ones can create this effect. * Unity – Unity ties the look of your garden together. This can be a challenge when working with groups of gardeners but when you put some thought into it, creating unity can be quite simple.

And the last piece of advice in planning and designing your Community Garden – have fun and enjoy. Garden’s are meant to be a work of art as well as a place of community and grounding, so let your spirit and your eye for beauty lead the way.

About the Author

About the Author: Pamela Ravenwood is a freelance writer, journalist, and writing coach who lives in the desert. In addition to spending her days writing, she also loves to tend to her organic garden where she grows as much of her own food as possible. In this, she counts on her cord reel to keep her hoses from drying out from the desert heat.

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