University of Illinois Extension
Begin Surveying Your Yard - Introduction to Perennial Garden Design - Stepping Stones to Perennial Garden Design - University of Illinois Extension

Begin Surveying Your Yard

One of the most difficult things for a homeowner to do is to look at your home and yard objectively. Where should a perennial garden be placed? You might have an idea of where, but is that really the best spot? Perennial gardens are meant to be seen! Place them accordingly. A secret garden, tucked out of site may be reminiscent of a childhood place, but it often is victim to 'out of sight, out of mind' maintenance.

Consider views from your patio, your entertainment area and from indoors. Here in the Midwest, we spend the majority of the year indoors. Contemplate views from frequently used areas inside your home. From which windows do you look out most often? Do you read the paper every morning from a certain spot? When eating family meals where is the view? When entertaining outdoors where do the eyes naturally land? These are high visibility locations, so consider placing a garden in one of these spots.

Do you have an undesirable view that you either want to cover up or direct focal attention away from? If you are considering placing a garden in the front yard or the public area, view your home from the primary entrance angle or where people approaching your home first see it. Gardens could serve to direct the eye to the front door or frame the house by being placed at the edges.

Often I hear people say, 'How do you make your plants flourish like this?' as they admire the little flower patch I cultivate in summer, or the winter gardens that bloom for me in the winter; 'I can never make my plants blossom like this! What is your secret?' And I answer with one word, 'Love'.
-- Celia Thaxter (1835-1894) from An Island Garden