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Planting design principles

3rd April 2019

Principles for correct plant combinations

Consider the height and levels of your garden, as well as the width and space. Large shrubs and trees will form the canopy and structure of the garden and need to be complemented by under-storey planting of groundcovers, perennials and annuals. Plant medium-sized shrubs and tall fillers as the bulk of the plants in the garden. Medium to small fillers, ground covers, small shrubs, annuals and bulbs are critical to the landscaping as they fill up the spaces of open soil as well as retain water and prevent soil erosion. Groundcovers create unity and flow to the garden.

Some planting design tips

  • Reverse the planting combinations to create opposite textures, colours, foliage and flowers.
  • Flowering shrubs should be complemented by a non-flowering groundcover with a change in colour and texture combination.
  • Non-flowering shrubs or trees should be complemented by flowering groundcovers, annuals or perennials.
  • Complement under-storey variations or greys with a green upper-storey.
  • Deep beds can be improved by two or three blocks of fillers with the placement of of the taller ones at the back, and shorter ones in the front.
  • The size of the filler and groundcover blocks should not be less than one metre square.
  • Under-storey combinations with lacy textured plants and soft flowing lines can be complemented by plants with form and structure.
  • Variegated shrubs and trees with grey foliage should be complemented by flowering groundcovers, fillers, perennials, annuals or green textured fillers.
  • Reversal of the formation and structure from upper-storey to lower-storey is important.
  • Repetition of plants or groups of combinations brings simplicity and unity into the garden.