Using the power of plants to enhance your garden design

Cosy Garden Design Ideas by Keltie & Clark

Planting design is one of the key elements of good garden design. While each individual plant has its own attractions, it is how plants are arranged together that brings interest to a garden, whether that’s an outdoor relaxation space or somewhere that needs more energy. In this blog, we’ll explore how the interplay of different colours, textures, structures, forms and heights of plants can be utilised to change how you feel in your outdoor space.

Understanding the Role of Plants in Garden Design


Design a cosy outdoor living space by using plants - Guide by Keltie & Clark

For a garden designer, planting is always purposeful. We understand the power that plants have to transform a garden, but planting design is still largely undervalued. The best way to look at planting design is to think about it in the same way you’d decorate rooms in your home. Just as you might use different colours and textures in a room to create a certain mood, in an outdoor space, you can use planting design.

For example, in seating areas or around a garden room with a hot tub or swimming pool, you can use plants to create an ambience that is full of energy and that feels like being on holiday. Or if you’re aiming for a cosy outdoor garden design, consider how your planting could help to transform areas into serene outdoor relaxation spaces. For more tips on how to enhance your outdoor spaces.

How to Use Plants in your Garden Design

We have already discussed that planting design can change the way you feel about your outdoor spaces. The first step is to envisage your garden as an outdoor relaxation space, thinking about how you want to feel when you’re in different areas. You may want a cosy corner that feels calm and serene, perfect for reading or watching wildlife, while for an entertaining area, you probably want to have more vibrancy and energy. Planting design can help you achieve this.

You also need to consider the physical limitations of your garden, such as the aspect, type of soil, and how much time you can dedicate to maintaining your garden, as this will impact the types of plants you can use. From there, you can start to think about the right planting design to fulfil all your requirements.

Plant's play such a pivotal role in having a cosy garden design

Key Plant Types For Your Garden Design

There are lots of ways you can use plants to change how you feel in your garden but it is important to understand how the plants work together. Here are 6 key plant types that you can use to enhance your garden design:


Plants for Colour

Just like with a colour scheme for your home, plant colour can affect how you feel in your garden. For a calming environment, choose cool plant colours, such as purples, lilacs, whites and greens, whereas if you want to create energy, go for hot reds, pinks, oranges and yellows.

Ideal plants: Calming – Lavender, Allium, Chamomile, Verbena; Energetic – Red Hot Pokers, Geranium, Crocosmia, Rudbeckia

Plants for Scent

As well as colour and structure, the way a plant smells is an important consideration in garden design. Smell is one of the most evocative senses: from the calming scent of lavender to the vibrancy of rosemary, using strongly-scented plants in your garden design will help you achieve the feeling you want in your outdoor space.

Ideal plants: Lavender, Rosemary, Rose, Honeysuckle

Garden design Cotswolds

Wildlife-friendly Plants

If your aim is to attract wildlife to your outdoor space, choose a range of flowers and plants that work for different species. Include tubular and open-faced flowers for different pollinators and plants that have berries and form seedheads for wintering birds.  

Ideal plants: Honeysuckle, Buddleja, Sedum, Sunflower

Architectural Plants

Plants that have an architectural structure can bring an element of art into your garden. They make a great focal point and can create a sense of structure, drama and vibrancy.

Ideal plants: Architectural grass, Yucca, Acanthus mollis (Bear’s Breeches), Sea Holly

Zen Garden Plants

Japanese-inspired gardens are noted for their uncluttered planting designs which feature clean, clipped trees and shrubs and a restrained colour palette. There is still plenty of planting but using fewer species makes this an easy-to-care for garden with an inherent sense of serenity. 

Ideal plants: Japanese Maple, Ornamental Cherry, Japanese Boxwood, Wisteria

Using plants for cosy garden design ideas by Keltie & Clark

Cottage Garden Plants

At the opposite end of the scale, if you’re looking to create a cosy outdoor garden design that’s full of billowing blooms and romance, then choose plants with softer shapes and structure. This approach to planting design aims to cultivate an easy-going, laid back vibe, perfect for an outdoor relaxation space (although don’t underestimate the amount of work needed to maintain this illusion!). 

Ideal plants: Delphinium, Foxglove, Salvia, Campanula

Using plants to create a cosy garden design - Keltie & Clark


Want To Get More From Your Planting Design?

At Keltie & Clark, we create gardens that transform lives using clever planting design as part of our overall garden design process. If you would like to know more about how we can use plants to transform your garden, please speak to our garden design team.


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