The idea of ‘zoning’ isn’t a new one when applied to interiors. It allows you to create specific spaces, for example by using a divider screen to section off one corner of a living room for a dedicated study. Zoning helps you to use your space more efficiently, helps reduce clutter and can help improve focus, as well. Now, garden designers are applying the idea to outdoor spaces as well. Most of us don’t have lavish, country-estate-style acreages, so splitting our gardens into multiple uses can work well. It works well with small spaces as well as larger ones, and you can create the zones according to any criteria you like.
How to do it
First, choose your zones! For example, you might want a flower garden, dining area, play area for the children, rockery, shaded area, lawn or shrubbery. Think about what you want from your outdoor space, and how you generally use it.
The sections can either be divided with markers such as hedges, tall bushes or trellises, or more subtle, visual delineations such as paving stones or just the transition from gravel to lawn. If your garden has a slightly awkward shape, such as a tapering end or alcoves, use this to your advantage by incorporating it into the plan. If you have a long, narrow strip of garden, then creating a gently curving path which weaves its way down the length of the space will visually chop it up and make it more appealing.
Plan your project
Once you’ve decided on what which zones you need, take into account any existing features that you want or need to retain. These could include mature trees or shrubs, or buildings such as sheds. If you have a shed, do you want to see it or screen it? Dining areas are probably best planned as close to the house as possible for practical reasons, so that you’re not carrying everything to the other end of the garden. Little sitting areas can be created anywhere and are great for filling in corners. Remember to build in shade, if you need it – you can either use a portable parasol, or permanent shade such as trees or a pergola.
An easy way to differentiate between the zones is to use different materials for each one, and use as many different textures as you can. Use gravel, stones, grass, decking or tiles as the floor for each different zone. You could also incorporate different levels, such as raised decking or a sunken pond or cooking area.
Let there be light
When you’re planning your project, remember to allow for lighting. Lighting can be a great way of delineating the edges of zones, as well as for creating atmosphere – position uplighters at the bottom of shrubs, for example.
If you’ve got a particularly big or awkwardly-shaped garden, it might well be worth calling in some professional expertise. Garden designers will often come up with suggestions that you wouldn’t even have considered, and they’ll also have more knowledge about what plants will be suitable for your environment.
For smaller projects, or if you’re going it alone, plan out all your zones on paper first, work out how you’re going to separate them and any practical issues before you get started – garden zoning can be stunning, but can also result in an inconvenient layout, so it’s important to think it through.
All images: Pixabay0