Good garden design: the key principles

A good garden design - the key principlesThe effect of a beautiful garden on a property’s value is indisputable, so it’s hardly surprising that they frequently top lists of the most desirable home attributes. However, if you’ve previously invested most of your energy in city properties or apartments, deciding what to do with so much outdoor space can be a challenge. Before you hand creative control over to a professional, take a look at our Engel & Völkers breakdown of the key principles behind good garden design.


Not all gardens have to have an overarching theme, but it’s useful to begin with a good idea of the key features that you want to include and build your plans around them. You could choose to start with your favourite perennial flowers, the existing layout of your garden or even a stately deciduous tree – anything that is a non-negotiable element.


Scale is a key consideration in garden design, so if there are any particularly dominating trees or structures in your garden, it’s important that they’re balanced out by their surroundings to maintain a sense of perspective. Similarly, don’t forget to include your property in your plans, to ensure that your home and garden feel like a cohesive whole with the same character and ambience. A converted farmhouse requires an entirely different approach to a stately home, so take the time to look at the gardens of similar properties, assessing what you think works and doesn’t work.


Although geometric shapes may seem at odds with nature, they can be used to great effect in softening the edges of a square or symmetrical plot. The garden of this Sencelles Country Estate in Mallorca uses this technique in an exemplary way. Squared arches provide a sense of continuity between the rectangular house and the bordered garden, leading through to a world of conical trees, spherical plants and delicate parasols. The estate’s facade is covered with bright flowers, which serve to smooth out the building’s edges and set their bright pink summer blooms against the property’s warm orange bricks.


If you prefer a more traditional aesthetic, take inspiration from the manicured gardens of the Crabbenburg Castle, near Ghent. Straight rows of flowers lead diagonally from a central, circular bed that sits within a clipped hedge, creating the silhouette of a wheel on the lawn. Magnificent stone balustrades lead down to the gardens, with baroque statues set artistically into grassy paths. The general style evokes Capability Brown’s pioneering work in landscape gardening, with the deep lake a key focal point. This is the standard to aspire to if you’re working with a large estate.


Last but by no means least, the sun’s position in the sky will dictate how your garden appears at different times of the day. A garden must have good lighting to survive, so don’t neglect this in your planning. If you plan to sit out in the evenings, look for eco-friendly solar lights that will match the general theme of your garden.

To start searching for a property that you can transform in your own natural haven, visit Engel & Völkers today. With shops and properties all over the world, we can guide you through apple orchards, tropical rainforests and manicured lawns to find the ideal garden, home and location for you.

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