Crucial Garden Design Elements

Did you read the subject line and think, “Okay, but I’ve already planted my garden. Can I really use this information?” My response is an enthusiastic “Yes!” Gardens are meant to change with us over time. They can, and should, be edited.

So what are these elements? How can they change your garden? There are seven different roles a plant can play in the landscape. Understanding them and choosing which ones to emphasize in your space will result in an elevated, cohesive garden view. We cover each role in depth in the new issue of our Gardening Simplified magazine, and good news, the digital version is now available! In each section, you’ll find examples of plants in their garden roles, design tips, and a list of appropriate plants. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll see:

A drawing of a craftsman style home with a garden designed to suit their aesthetic goals.

In this design, edging is a vital element. Invincibelle Wee White® hydrangea (highlighted in green) is planted in groups along the front of the garden bed, uniting the common features of the plants behind them AND giving the space a polished look overall. How could you rearrange some plants in your space to get a more interesting view? Get inspired in the link below!

With a tidy little habit and lush year-round foliage, this hardy evergreen makes the perfect addition to an established landscape. It grows a bit faster than other dwarf conifers and naturally maintains its tight, globe-like habit, so it looks at home right away.

  • full sun (6+ hours of exposure)
    to part sun (4-6 hours of exposure)
  • 2-3 feet tall and wide
  • USDA zones 3-8

What is the best time of the year for transplanting shrubs?

Spring. Usually, the temps are cooler and precipitation is more abundant. These conditions make it easier for a plant to get its root system re-established. The second best time is fall. Read how to transplant a shrub in 8 steps.

Written by
Picture of Kristina Howley

Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.


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