To get the most from your garden, you may first want to decide what type of person you are. Take a moment and become your own psychologist.
A truly great garden which is enjoyed by one’s owner should be a reflection of one’s personality. For example, an introvert – someone who doesn’t necessarily despise social occasions but feels slightly drained after a get-together – might prefer a garden with more places to hide, or at least a garden in which one might find themselves, rather than others. Perhaps they would favour an English country garden, bursting with life, smells and sounds, a garden which requires time and patience, with more expansive planting plans. Indeed, time can be an important element for the introvert, as they would relish solitary hours alone in their garden, walking barefoot in long grass to recoup the soul.
The extrovert, however, should instead gain strength from socialising, and if this is the case, then they might plump for a garden planned with more order – a formal garden, with raised beds pushed back from the centre against walls or fences. Pleached trees are easier to maintain and add patterned order. Less grass and more landscaped areas for gatherings are a must – after all, the extrovert enjoys the garden when others do.
Either approach is perfectly valid, of course. There is no ‘right way’ to design a garden – most gardens will usually strike a balance between introvert hideaway and extrovert party space, just as our personalities are rarely so one dimensional – but I do think that, as designers, we need to uncover that predominant characteristic of a client’s personality that will help us to create a garden they will really enjoy.