Design options for your garden

NOTE! Please read our planning article before moving onto the design of your garden

Design is an important part of any garden or landscaping project, allowing you to conceptualize your garden layout before implementation. Creating a complete design beforehand allows you to visualize your future garden, as well as to list the hard and soft landscaping elements so that you can complete an accurate bill of quantities and costing. Designing your garden up front saves time and money, and helps avoid costly mistakes when it comes to the installation. Here are some options when it comes to the creative process of designing your garden:

  • Concept drawing
  • Hand-drawn design
  • 2D & 3D design using landscaping design software
  • 3D model

Concept drawings

Concept drawings are essentially rough 2D sketches of your proposed garden layout, as viewed from the top-down. They are not meant to be perfect, but are rather used to suggest guidelines as to how your garden could be implemented. A concept drawing usually begins with a rough pencil outline of your current garden dimensions, using estimations, followed by the building structures and terrain that is currently in place. Following this the hard and soft landscaping elements to be implemented, can be drawn in, with plants being depicted using circles of various diameters. Using a pencil and eraser to work on your concept allows for easy alterations as you create and adapt your design, and whilst the end result may look scruffy and rough-around-the-edges, it will provide you with a foundation for a formal design or 3D layout.

concept design

Hand-drawn design

A hand-drawn design is the next level up from your concept drawing, and usually takes the form of a colour 2D diagram from the top-down. Using accurate dimensions here is very important, not only for future implementation but for accurate costing. After your design you will be going in search of the right materials and plants for the job, and knowing how much of each item is required can save you time and money.

Hand-drawn 2D top-down design


2D & 3D design using software

Landscaping design software allows you greater flexibility and speed during the design process. A quality 3D design makes it easier to visualize your future garden, providing you with a walk-through of the various areas of your garden and the features and plants you want to include. There are many 3D landscaping design software packages out there, and depending on the size of your project, it may be well worth your time and money to purchase one online. Do a Google search to find one that you feel would be appropriate – try the demo version first. Many are very user-friendly and come with excellent support.


3D model

3D modeling is usually only required for large scale commercial projects, where the model could be used as a display item on completion of the project. Completing a 3D model usually requires some technical, craft and wood-working skills, along with the use of miniature 3D models purchasable from craft shops.