Grassy pathway through landscape beds filled with yellow flowers, grasses, and evergreens.  Improve Your Landscape With These Design Tips.

Improve Your Landscape With These Design Tips

Designing a landscape can be overwhelming.  With so many options available, knowing what to plant can be a challenge.  But planning a new landscape bed or improving your landscape doesn’t have to be difficult when you follow these garden design tips.

Consider the Views

Small pond with bridge outside of red brick home surrounded by shade plants.

Whether it is a sweeping vista you wish to highlight or a neighbor you want to block out. When designing a landscape, you will want to factor in all the different views from your home and patio. 

If you work from home and look out of one window most of the day, you may want to treat that area as a focal point. Who wouldn’t love a secluded patio surrounded by fragrant flowers and a small waterfall to ease tension during those high-pressure WFH days?

Create a Backdrop

Large evergreen trees planted at the back of a landscape border with stone edging and large boulders.

Without a backdrop, your eye doesn’t have a place to stop.  Choosing neutral plants will give your eyes a place to stop and create a setting for your plants to shine.  Evergreens such as Columnar Yew, Juniper, Arborvitae, or Spruce work exceptionally well at creating this backdrop.

Go Vertical

Vine climbing up home next to black french doors on back patio.

Every landscape needs height. Having a small space may mean you can’t plant a shade tree, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have plants with height in your landscape. Look up and take advantage of the vertical space your garden provides by adding columnar forms and vines on trellises.

Know Your Light

Shadows cover white flowers that line a concrete sidewalk with a circle of pink flowers.

The key to any plant’s success is placing the correct plant in the right light environment. Pay attention to the nuances of light, what may be blocking it, and what time of the day it appears in your yard.

You can also use the light you have to help with color choices. Lower light areas will display pastel colors better than a full sun area. And, vice versa, full-sun areas will show off richer colors like golds, oranges, and reds but will wash out pastels.

Contrasting Foliage

Burgundy-red foliage ninebark is used as a backdrop to the pink flowers and large, green foliage of joy-pye weed.

Even gardens with abundant flowers but little else can be lacking. Not certain why? That elusive quality that your garden is searching for is contrast. The contrast of foliage texture, color, and foliage sizes allows plants to stand out instead of blending into one mass that overwhelms the eye.

Year-Round Interest

A grass pathway winds through landscape and screening with a mixture of grasses, yellow flowers, and large evergreens.

It’s easy to only buy what is in bloom when you’re at the garden center. By doing that, however, you limit your garden interest to a strict time frame. 

Extend your season by choosing a mixture of evergreen, deciduous, flowering shrubs, and flowering perennials.  Pay attention to their bloom times, and you can experience flowers from early spring into late fall. Evergreens will give you texture and form during the winter and keep your landscape appealing all year long.

Accents and Specimens

Large weeping evergreen heeled in gravel at nursery with deep blue sky.

Accents in a garden stand out and draw your eye to a focal point. By using urns or pottery, you create a permanent accent to which you can add seasonal color. 

Specimen plants also make great focal points. A specimen plant can be a tree or shrub, evergreen or deciduous but is typically unique or strong in form.

Plant in Groups

Mass of low-growing cotoneaster planted in front of a cream-colored stone wall and an orange-red brick house.

Eye-stopping landscapes are created with large masses of odd-numbered plants.  These groups of plants typically consist of 3 or more.  The mass plantings produce a bold statement in your landscape that singular plants often don’t achieve.


Evergreens with broad, green leaves offer backdrop to fine red foliage of weeping tree against dark red brick building.

Everyone loves the 3-foot sized shrub. But, landscapes need more than every plant at 3-feet. Layering your landscape will stagger height from tall towards the back to the shortest towards the front. 

Back to front:  

  1.  Shade, Evergreen, & Ornamental Trees
  2. Evergreen & Deciduous Shrubs
  3. Flowering Perennials & Ornamental Grasses
  4. Groundcovers & Low-Growing Perennials
  5. Annuals, Herbs, & Bulbs


Tall, narrow evergreen trees line a fence with yellow flowering groundcover planted in front.

The scale of your plants and planting beds should be in proportion to the scale of your property.  On a larger property, you may be able to plant a large oak tree.  However, smaller properties may only require a small tree form shrub or a climbing vine for height.  Knowing how large a plant will be will help with this step of landscape design.

Following these steps will help you improve your landscape and create a magazine-worthy garden.

*All Photos Baxter Gardens

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