Determining the size and shape of the garden – The immovable parameters of the garden itself – its size and shape – will determine to some extent how patterns and spaces can be used. A long thin garden, a square, rectangular, triangular, or dog-legged one, will each need handling in a different way. The appearance and feel of the final composition, and the positioning of the various components, will depend to a large extent on how a ground pattern is created within the limitations of a garden shape.
Whatever the configuration of your plot, it will probably need modifying or strengthening in some way. A long thin garden, for example, will need to be divided up into different areas or ‘rooms’, each with its own character and purpose.
If the different sections are separated by hedges, low walls or screening of some kind, this will give it the sense of tension, mystery and surprise, and will increase the overall feeling of space as well as providing practical areas for various different activities: sitting and eating, playing and utilitarian functions, for example.
Long narrow gardens have a strong directional emphasis. Square plots on the other hand are completely static. The solution here is to appear to change the shape of the garden. Garden designs based on a pattern of circles or on one of rectangles work equally well. A circular design distracts the eye from the straight lines of the boundary, a complex rectangular design uses the perimeter as part of the design and in breaking it up detracts from it.
Another way of dealing with square or rectangular gardens is to turn the garden design at an angle of 45 degrees to the boundary. A long diagonal line will immediately create a feeling of space, and paving near the house could lead further away into a series of strongly flowing curves. This creation of movement is the key to any shape of garden.
In a dog-legged plot the aim will be to draw feet and eye into the hidden space. You can do this by leading a path into the dog leg or sweeping a lawn around the corner. Once you are there the rectangles themselves can be treated in one of the ways mentioned above. A triangular garden, on the other hand, should be considered simply as part of a rectangle, and so should be handled accordingly. Don’t be fooled, just stand back, analyze the space at your disposal, and design accordingly!