Natural Planting Design

natural planting design

Natural planting through gravel gives a Mediterranean feel which suits the soil

"Natural" planting is all about creating relaxed groupings of like-minded plants that suit their environment. That means easy, low maintenance plants that don't need much attention and no irrigation. It can also mean grouping plants by their natural habitat type and increasingly, it is about creating resilient & forward-looking planting that can cope with increasing local micro-climate stress. Plants are arranged in an informal matrix or what I call drift planting, which mimics natural randomness.

There are many good reasons to work with plants in this way; our biophilic needs - our connections to nature - are most satisfied, I believe, when we are in places that remind us of natural environments, rather than the ordered and controlled landscapes we have traditionally created. Such plantings are (or can be) rich and diverse, often designed specifically to also enhance the local biodiversity.

natural planting in drifts

This planting runs in drifts of wet soil, dry soil as a stream meanders throughout

We can break the plant groupings into a number of different types, and of course, numerous sub-types. Think of open meadow or prairie, open woodland/shrubs and the stillness of deep forest. Then there are other regions: coastal, such as Mediterranean maquis or garrigue, arid mountainous or desert. Many of these can be used as a theme for our garden plantings, but not arbitrarily. The use of themes must arise out of the existing landscape, or at least have a resonance with it eg. we plant what suits the conditions. We then design the planting using taller structural plants, a mid flower/foliage layer and finally ground-cover. A mulch of bark, stones or gravel will prevent the growth of unwanted weeds.

I have been practicing this style of planting for years, with a special interest in woodland edge and coastal/Mediterranean planting. This approach is suitable for most scales from domestic to large commercial projects and can sit comfortably within a modern design framework of materials and ordered structure. We know this is not wilderness, but it is connected and we feel good when in such places. Gardens are special places where Nature and humans interconnect.


Please contact me to discuss your planting needs.


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