"Gardens should always look good without plants," says Egan Davis, the chief educator in the UBC Horticulture Training program at the UBC Botanical Garden.
Davis says one should always start planning a major garden project like an architect would plan a building. It's important to know how you want your garden to look like before you buy the necessary flora.
"To start with a garden, think of some of the big picture stuff. Start with a context or a theme and then apply some of the basic design principles."
He says a common mistake when beginning garden projects is getting too far ahead of yourself.
"It's like building a house and buying a couch first."
Davis says this is especially important when the garden is meant to fit into a master plan for a major renovation.
"When you're putting in pathways or patios, think about the lines you're drawing. Ask yourself if the lines create shapes that are balanced, does it suit the scale of the space? The big picture is important.
Planning makes planting easier
Davis says by making a mental map of the garden and how the space should work, the actual planting part of the project is made much easier.
"When you've created those spaces, it'll be really easy to land the most dominant element to where it needs to go. From there you know what elements support that."
"For example, if you've got a tree as your focus and a couple of accent plants that support that tree, you land those two and let the rest fall into place. Then you just fill in the blanks until you get down to the smallest details."
To hear more, click the audio labelled: Where to start, when planning your summer garden.