My friend and landscape architect, John Howard, has been awarded a number of awards for his contribution in the field of  landscape/garden design. He recently took the time to share some garden design tips with us!

Keep it simple – A panel of lawn with a border of shrubs can be quite dramatic and provide a great place for recreation and entertaining.

One perfect Garden Object can make a garden space special and become an important focal point. Find the perfect bench, urn, sculpture or sundial for the space and spend the money on something of high quality that will last.

Think about evergreen structure. What will the garden space look like in winter when many plants are dormant? Boxwood and Holly are both good bets for evergreen structure.

Use walks, walls and patios to define a space. Think about how you will be moving through, in or around a garden space and plan for this in your layout. Repeat material from the house or use a contrasting natural material such as brick or stone.

Level changes help define spaces and add dimension to “outdoor rooms”.  Try 6” risers and 14” treads for a comfortable step.

Think about symmetry and balance. Use geometry to lay out your garden spaces so that it is well balanced to the eye.  Geometric order is always calming.

Consider low voltage night lighting. Many people use their garden as much at night as they do during the day.  Keep the lighting design simple and remember that the dark spaces provide important contrast  to what is lighted.

Espalier plants are beautiful additions to a garden wall. Find a variety that bear fruit such as pears or apples, and you will get the benefit of the spring bloom, too.

An herb garden is a must for anyone who loves to cook. Try a formal layout or a small area with raised beds.  Always use organic soil and natural fertilizers.

Try to keep the style of your garden respectful of the architectural style of the house. Look for examples in books, blogs and other web-based resources.

Use a water element to add sound to the garden experience.  Water adds a calming effect to outdoor spaces and attracts birds, dragonflies and butterflies.

Go on a garden tour to see what’s out there; they are a great source for inspiration when planning a new garden.

Howard Design Studio designs outdoor living spaces that are rich in detail, classic in form and opulently individual.  Inspired by exemplary gardens throughout the work, the garden designs of John Howard and his associates uniquely reflect each client’s personality and lifestyle. The firm’s fresh approach to architectural detailing, site planning and planting design is highly attentive to architectural style and site considerations.  Howard Design Studio accepts a limited number of commissions to maintain the superior level of quality and attention to detail, that have become the firm’s hallmark.

John Howard, ASLA, principle and creative director of Howard Design Studio worked in landscape architecture offices in New York City and Newport Beach before launching his design studio in Atlanta. John received his degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia. John also studied garden design at the La Napoule Art Foundation in La Napoule, France and travels extensively around the world visiting renown palace and estate gardens. He finds inspiration in the great gardens and parklands that have withstood the test of time across the globe. John is CLARB certified nationally and maintains his professional registration in the firm’s active project locales.

Photography by Emily Jenkins Followill