Importance of Function in a Garden Design
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 25, 2020)
When people are beginning to look at designing a garden, often times they will overlook one of the most important aspects of garden design—functionality. In all honesty, it is difficult to overstate the importance of function in a garden design, simply because functionality will have an impact on almost all parts a garden. To help illustrate this point a little more, listed below are some of the more common items that function can have a role in. Next to each of these items will be a brief description of how exactly function plays a role.
- Purpose. What is the overall purpose of the garden? Is it something that you will simply sit back and enjoy, something that you will use to help supplement the food that you have in your kitchen? Each type of garden design will have a separate (though sometimes overlapping) function. Knowing what that function is can really help you determine which type of garden you want. For example, if you are wanting a garden that will help add a little bit of food to your kitchen, you probably won't want a garden that functions primarily as a means of attracting butterfly's.
- Overall design. When speaking about the overall design of a garden, there is an old saying that pops into mind. That saying is that form follows function. Simply put, English cottage gardens do not function, work, or are even laid out in the same manner that a shade garden is. True there can often be a bit of overlap (where one type of garden is influenced by another) but every garden will be different due to the primary function that the garden will be used for. Stop and think about where each and every element of the garden will be laid out, and try to make it as easy as possible on you and those using the garden to fulfill what you have in mind.
- Types of plants. Generally speaking, each type of plant that you will consider putting in your garden has its own unique function. While it is true that some plants have more than one function, you will want to look at the primary function for planning purposes. For example, fruit trees can provide some kind of shade, but that isn't exactly what the primary function is, and you may not want to utilize those kind of trees for a shade garden or as wind breaks.
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