Debby Lockey's Blog

Achieving balance in the garden

Despite the cold grey days winter brings I do love this time of the year, as I feel some-what in control. Most of the year I feel as if I am running full pelt just trying to catch up with nature.  Weeds need removing, shoots need clipping, or tying in, plants need moving; something always needs doing in a vain attempt to keep the garden in some kind of order.  But during the dormant winter months I can relax, head out into the garden with my camera and notebook and reflect on the garden.


To me one of the most important aspects of a good garden is balance.  This generally means ensuring plants, pergolas and buildings are positioned in such a way that they work well with the paths, lawns or ponds in a garden, so the garden feels comfortable.  No one structure dominates or overpowers the whole of the garden.  You can relax in the garden.

In winter it is much easier to see if this balance is working. With no distractions from the flowers the backbone of the garden – the shrubs, trees and buildings, comes into the forefront. Think of formal gardens, such as the gardens at Versailles and you have a good example of well-balanced gardens.  The clipped topiary along a main axis provides order. The repetitive patterns of the planting help to reinforce this feeling of comfort – we know what is coming next and nothing jars.  Flicking through glossy gardening magazines at this time of the year, it is these beautiful formal gardens with the frost on the topiary and hard landscaping structures that are pictured, because they look so stunning in winter. We are all intrinsically aware that these are well-balanced gardens.

But what if you don’t want a formal style in your garden?  It may not suit the wider landscape you live in, the style of the house, or your personality.  How then do you achieve this sense of balance in the garden?  This is when you don your wellies and your coat, grab your camera and notebook and go for a wander around the garden. As you walk through the garden ask yourself does the garden feel comfortable? Do the plants feel squashed together or are they too far apart and therefore not relating to one another? Does the bench or the statue feel as if it is in the right place or does it stand-alone and looks as if it has been dumped there because you couldn’t think of anywhere else it should go? Be critical.  Remember that everything in a garden should relate to each other both horizontally and vertically.  How they relate is personal preference so don’t be afraid to experiment.  It is everyone’s own individual personality that helps to create a unique garden. But remember that if you have one high tree on one side of the garden, counter balance it with a group of lower shrubs on the other. 



Posted 9:34, Wednesday 2nd March

1 .
Posted by oem software on 11:23, Saturday 31st March

S12zZv A big thank you for your post.Really thank you!

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About Debby's blog

Every month I will give you some tips on what to do in your garden and allotment for that time of the year.  Because I am a designer there will be elements of design thrown in along with gardening advice.

I’ll also let you know about any projects I am working on;  the ideas behind the design, how we will implement it and what the outcome was like. 

If any one would like to contribute I would be pleased to hear from you.  I am always pleased to hear other people’s experiences especially since I have found that the more I learn about gardening the less I seem to know.

Recent posts

Growing sweet peas, Lathyrus odoratus, for summer fragrance

How to create a lovely spring planting combination using the colour yellow.

Posters to help you make your street hedgehog friendly

Winter plants for winter insects.

The spring garden

A vegetable plot for lazy people

Some design thoughts

Achieving balance in the garden

Sculptures in the garden

Small is definitely beautiful