Designing a country garden - guidelines

Proportion and scale: Design scale is always bigger in the country. Plant trees and shrubs in groups or lines. Avoid making landscape features such as patios, pergolas or decks too small.
Don't forget shelter from the elements: If you need to create a shelterbelt or windbreak with trees, don't crowd them at the house. Windbreaks provide best protection when planted to the north and west about 20 to 30 yards (20 to 30 metres) from buildings.
Be creative with your space: If you have lots of privacy, the "backyard" doesn't have to be the outdoor living area if the front is more congenial because it's sunnier or better protected from prevailing winds.
A patio on the east side, for example, might be an inviting spot for morning coffee, while a west facing courtyard allows you to enjoy evening entertaining and catch the sunset. If you can manage it, why not include both?
Create intimacy close to the house: Wide-open spaces are all well and good, but you want areas near the house to be inviting.
A courtyard, deck or patio, and pergola-covered spaces can all be used for outdoor living.
To soften and enclose these built areas, plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Avoid putting hard material (say a stone patio) up against another hard material (the house wall); try to have a planted bed in between.
Blend your landscape with natural surroundings: Beds, plantings and structures close to house can have a more cultivated or formal feeling, but as you get further from the house, allow the landscape to be looser and more naturalized.
Research which plants are native to your region, and plant as many native trees and perennials as you can. A wild flower meadow is ideal for an open, sunny spot.

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