The Garden Guide

Planting design types

Garden design index & How to design a garden

Most garden planting design is on land which, if cleared of vegetation and then vacated by man, would pass through the following ecological succession which correspond to the four primary categories of garden planting:

  1. annual herbs, including grasses
  2. perennial herbs, including grasses
  3. woody shrubs, including climbers
  4. woodland trees, including timber, fruiting and flowering trees

But the four categories of planting can be combined in many different ways to create a design- see our brief summary of the history of planting design. Gardeners affect the ecological succession, by planting and maintenance operations, for a variety of reasons:

  1. functional design : to produce food, timber, medicines, shelter, shade, cut flowers, visual barriers etc
  2. aesthetic design: to grow beautiful plants and create colour effects, patterns, textures etc (as in garden design styles)
  3. symbolic design: to create visual representations of ideas, theories and beliefs (as in sacred gardens)
Vegetable planting Shrubbery planting Fruit orchard
Habitat creation Knot garden planting Flowering orchard
Annual bedding Herbaceous border planting Hedge planting
Carpet bedding Rock garden planting Pergola planting
Parterre planting Rose garden planting Clump planting
Meadow planting Gardenesque planting Avenue planting
See also: Essay on Planting Strategy

Perennial herbs

Annual herbs

Woody shrubs

Woodland trees