Garden Designer Reveals How to Create the Perfect Garden & Avoid Rookie Mistakes

For plant lovers, walking into a garden center is like a kid in a candy store. The options can be overwhelming. In a good way! But still overwhelming. 

If you don’t approach plant purchases with a plan, you might end up getting lost in the weeds. Or spending a lot of money creating something that ultimately doesn’t satisfy you. 

Professional landscaper Lauren Dubinsky (aka @floricultgardens on TikTok) recently shared her top tips for planning the perfect garden. 

Lauren visits a lot of home gardens – roughly five a week. Here are three mistakes she sees homeowners make over and over again. 

garden planting designer
Image Credit: TikTok @floricultgardens.

Mistakes Most Homeowners Make

Landscaping is more than how you arrange plants in your backyard. The task actually starts with plant selection. According to Lauren, this is where many home gardeners go wrong.

Unsurprisingly, people tend to buy their favorite plants. But this can be somewhat limiting. 

For example, say you’re attracted to flowers with blooms. Those flowers are great, but a garden made up entirely of petunias will lack architecture and textural variety. To create an eye-catching design, Lauren suggests using a landscaping ratio. 

But before we get to that, here’s the next mistake you don’t want to make. 

When designing gardens, the thing that most homeowners fail to do is, well, design. It’s tempting to walk into a nursery and buy one of everything. Or at least one of everything that catches your eye.

But Lauren suggests a different approach. 

When you find a flower you like, buy multiples of the same plant. That way, you can create a large grouping of the plant in your garden rather than cobble together random flowers. 

The amount of plants you buy will obviously depend on your budget and how much space you have. But even five plants of the same variety will create a more cohesive group. 

(This tactic will also help streamline your garden care routine!) 

The final mistake? Relegating herbs to a tiny pot or herb garden. 

Yes, herbs offer a wide array of culinary uses. But they’re also beautiful, creating texture and shapes. Best of all, most herbs are low-maintenance perennials (many are also drought-tolerant plants as well). 

Get the Ratios Right

What’s Lauren’s magical ratio for landscape success? 

Again, it all comes down to plant selection. Essentially, you want equal parts of four types of plants: shrubs, blooms, foliage, and groundcover. 

Shrubs provide architecture. Blooms provide cover. Foliage provides texture. And groundcover provides a more attractive base than grass or mulch. 

Just because a plant doesn’t have a bloom doesn’t mean it couldn’t make an interesting highlight. 

Lauren recommends selecting perennials to save you from replanting year after year. 

Once you’ve perfected that ratio, your design options are endless. Use borders to edge the garden. Use rows of the same plants to create color patterns. Or plant a knot garden if you favor an intricate look!


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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.