David McMullinEditor’s Note: This is the first in a series that will continue through the summer on designing, planting, maintaining and harvesting your very own garden.
By David McMullin
In working with clients and in conversations with friends over the past 20 years, I realize that people don’t consider designing a garden the complicated process that it really is. Creating a good garden requires a solid understanding of design. In part one of this design series, I will help you develop the foundation for your home garden plan.
Assess the site for what is and is not possible.
Creativity is best exercised under some limitations.  The least effective gardens are often the ones where there is plenty of money, excess of land and lack of vision.  When assessing your site observe the light, check for water, consider traffic flow, and yes, examine your checking account. Avoid expectations before you are realistic about the possibilities.
Apply scale, symmetry and balance to your garden design.
The most common mistake is an improper use of scale. Think broad strokes – the smaller the garden, the bigger the features. A symmetrical approach (an English style) is not as strict and rigid as many believe.  Study garden styles (English, French, Italian and others).  Figure out a good fit for your space and personality.
Most artistic expression is within an easy to understand and tolerant framework. A simple structural form allows for more mileage out of the fun stuff.
The hard elements – the paths, walls, floor and ceiling – should make sense, connecting and guiding the experience with minimal confusion.  Materials used in your garden should be closely aligned to each other, the architecture of your home and the natural landscape.
Next month, we’ll delve a little deeper into the gratifying (and more difficult) part of designing your garden.

David McMullin, an acclaimed garden designer, has owned New Moon Gardens design firm for 20 years. His gardens have been featured on tours, in magazines and on television. David recently ventured into retail, opening Garden*Hood, the newest garden center destination located in Grant Park. For more information on David’s design services, contact him at newmoongardens@gmail.com or (404) 593-0996.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.