In order to get started on your garden design project you will learn some basic skills known to professional Garden Designers and to Landscape Architects.
Sometimes the distinction between Garden Designers and Landscape Architects seems very distinct and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish one profession from the other.  Each discipline has developed along more or less parallel lines.  If we were to compare them to a game of cricket, everybody is on the same team but some are bowlers and some are batsmen. Others are all-rounders, batting and bowling with equal success. Like the batsmen and bowlers, who are each fully concerned with the game of cricket, the Garden Designer and the Landscape Architect are engaged at different levels with the design, implementation and management of open outdoor spaces. 

Informal Garden

The Burren Perfumery Garden, Co Clare, Ireland
Landscape architects tend to work with other members of design teams on larger spaces such as corporate, public or government works, which can often be integrated into their surroundings.  Garden designers usually prefer to focus on enclosed private spaces which are stand-alone projects, and tend to work with residential clients.  This may help to explain what defines both the landscape architect and the garden designer, however there are more similarities that there are differences between the two professions.

You will learn here some of the the best of what both professions have to offer you with regard to the core skills that you need in order to make a success of your Yard or Garden Design.
The photograph shows the front of Johnstown Castle and the lake is seen clearly in the foreground.  Trees in leaf frame the view of the castle.

Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford, Ireland

Let’s start with Landscape Architecture, which combines elements of scientific understanding with aesthetic creativity in order to form functional, visually pleasing outdoor spaces.  These spaces are often connected with related spaces within the building and in the surrounding area.  The Landscape Architect employs his or her training and experience in order to arrange a palate of man-made and natural materials in combination with soils, plant material and ecosystems.
The Landscape Architect generally aims to integrate the built environment with its surroundings.  This integration ensures that the proposed building and the existing environment are unified,  working together visually and functionally to become a balanced entity.  With regard to plant use, landscape design is not simply providing a visual horticultural display but aims to encourage a wider number of species and varieties to occupy the site. 

The creation of new habitats within the site, as well as the preservation of existing habitats increases biodiversity value.  This diversity of habitats is achieved by using plants and trees that are native to the area in order to facilitate the local wildlife, such as birds, insects and small mammals, to spread and inhabit the site.
Landscape architecture is also concerned with landscape materials other than plants & you will find that good use is made of all kinds of man-made and naturally occurring materials.
Garden Design generally works on a much smaller scale, creating a more intimate space.  The Garden Designer aims to work with the client to provide a private outdoor area that maximises the available space to meet the client’s specific needs and personality.
The Garden Designer often creates a design that is not related to its immediate environment as the space is most often closed off and separated from its surroundings.  In aesthetic terms this generates a lot of potential when it comes to the style of the design;  For instance an Oriental Zen Garden can be designed for a townhouse in London or for a country home in Louisiana.  This wide variety of choice may come at a cost to the local environment and it is useful, for the health of the garden and the local area, to try to connect the garden horticulturally with the surrounding landscape where possible.
As you work through this site you will take an approach most often used by the Garden Designer rather than the Landscape Architect.
Your next step is to learn about the Elements of Design