Garden Design Exposed!

Secrets For Do It Yourself Landscapers

We’ve all been led to believe that only our friendly neighborhood landscape designer has the necessary skills to design gardens, often to the tune of thousands of dollars.

But with only a few secrets, you can become your own landscape designer. You do not have to be a professional to achieve professional results. You can lose the designer and keep the great design. 

Learn to love YOUR garden by learning these garden design secrets!

You will be surprised at how SIMPLE some of these "secrets" are.  I hope to help you take the mystery out of garden design by sharing with you what I have learned over the years by trial and error. 

Take a journey toward the exquisite, attractive garden you've always dreamed of.  Pore over these pages to learn how designers think, how they prepare, and what they do to give you a beautiful garden. 

Then go do it yourself!

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Design Perspectives

Color Values

Color Schemes


Visual Balance

Color and Mood

Organizing Space

Visual Texture

Rhythm and Motion

Spatial Organization

Garden Video Highlight: 

Garden Water Features add a vibrant beautiful and peaceful ambiance to a garden.  


Here is a garden video that has

some great little secrets

about how to make your

garden water feature extra special.


The video is about 5 minutes long, with some beautiful video of the authors garden pond at the beginning.  I hesitated to put this up, because I wasn't sure everyone would figure out there was more than some pretty pictures...but in the end, I think it is worth the viewing!  Sit back and take a few moments to learn about Garden Water Features. 

Designing Garden Features!

Water Features

Design a Focal Point

Decorative Garden Accents

What's YOUR Planting Zone? 

Check it out here!

Aden Earth World Planting Zone Map

Need More?  Click the Picture for more on Planting Zones.

Garden Foundations

Types of Soil

Soil Amendments

Landscape Grading 

Soil pH 

Do Your Own Home Soil Test

Home Soil Test Kits

Popular Landscaping Tips!

Wandering Gardener Homeowner Tribute

Garden Bed Delight

Look at the wonderful color mix and unusually treated balance of this wonderful garden border!  The picture does not do this justice….this is a most amazing garden bed treated with shrubs and garden annuals. 

I go nearly daily to see my father, who is currently undergoing evaluation at a nursing care facility.  This somewhat distressing mission is cheered greatly by the wonderfully planted neighborhoods I travel through to reach the facility.  The cheerfully planted borders and gorgeous garden flowers along my route gladden my heart and help me to present a positive, hopeful face to my father. 

This wonderfully executed example demonstrates a number of the garden design principles I have written about on this site.  The homeowner here used these principles to perfection.

The obvious lesson here is in the use of color.  The varying blue tones of the hydrangeas and annual selections perfectly set off the bold blue color of the house, while extensive use of white petunia and geranium accent the composition and provide a repeated counterpoint to the larger field of blue and green colors.  In addition, the complementary color choices represented through the red and purple tones of the roses,  geranium and petunia selections add an additional punch to the scene.  The effect is marvelous, and is truly traffic stopping.

Learn more about color principles by visiting the page on color values

There is a second lesson in garden design so beautifully demonstrated in this homeowner's garden bed.  One of my most popular pages addresses asymmetrical balance. 

This garden is a beautiful example of asymmetrical balance in action. 

Note that the home has a second story over the garage to the left.  This homeowner recognized and exploited that fact by choosing a variety of larger shrubs at that end of the home.   The asymmetrical theme is further reinforced by the use of gradually shorter plant varieties across the front of the bed.  

This one element of the garden border integrates the garden with the home, and thus creates a beautiful whole.  The natural tendency of most homeowners is to plant similar height plants across the back all across the home, and fill in lower plantings below.  By resisting that tendency, this homeowner crossed the line from beautiful to knockout gorgeous. 

Learn more about planning your garden border! 

A third, much more subtle element is seen in this composition.  Note that there are three evergreen shrubs placed across the back of the beds.  These three shrubs are not equally spaced.  This homeowner planted the shrubs using the "golden ratio". 

For more about the golden mean and how it amps up our perceptions of beauty, see the rules of composition page

Container Gardening!

Container Gardens

Staging with Container Gardening

Designing a Container Garden

Garden Book Corner
Books Worth More than a Peek!

I recommend only books that I have actually read and used myself!   These  two may not be the most recent books, but they are books I have used as my own gardening references.  

I pass them along as options because I think they are excellent and worthy of owning! 

I'll continue the container gardening theme with these two selections.  

Looking for fall container ideas?  These two books are great idea generators...  Check them out! 


Clare Matthews has written a real jewel of a book called Great Containers, that focuses on creating beautiful, colorful containers.

I love this beautiful book, published way back in 2004, because of the truly outstanding and unusual container combinations collected within it's pages.

Clare Matthews devotes chapters to Color, Decorative Techniques, and Plant Care, as well as a dramatic set of "Collections", which highlight container projects all the way from colorful pots to electric plant selections that are truly memorable.

These unusually dramatic combinations illustrate her real understanding of the relationship between plants and their containers.

Titles such as Opulence and Riches, Pretty Romantics, Contemporary, Passion and Daring, Cool Sophistication, and Sun Baked Mediterranean provide a tantalizing peek at the selection of beautiful container projects that Clare has assembled.

I bought a copy of Container Gardening Through the Year by Malcolm Hillier, published in 1995 by DK Publishing, and it is still among my favorite books for container garden "recipes".

It is a simple book, devoted almost entirely to colorful photos of featured container plant combinations, including plant names, number of plants used, and growing tips for each container.

The 160 page book is organized into chapters covering Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and the bulk of the book is devoted to sumptuously illustrated instructions for planting projects, in containers of every type, and it manages to span the entire year with creative container combinations.

Packed with incredibly attractive ideas for planting combinations, this is an extremely hand tool for creating gorgeous displays throughout the year!

Want to purchase?  Click the pictures or links above to go to Amazon and make these wonderful books yours! 

For those of you who missed the last pair of highlighted books, you can find them here.

Many of the images on GardenDesignExposed! come from Dreamstime.  Check them out for gorgeous photos!

Stock Photos & Images

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Welcome to 

Garden Design Exposed!

Hello! My name is Doug, and I am passionate about design!

I hope you will find Garden Design Exposed! interesting and enlightening, and that you will use what you learn to create the garden of your dreams!!!