How to design a garden when you're not a garden designer | The Impatient Gardener

How to design a garden when you're not a garden designer | The Impatient Gardener

I’m not a garden designer but I design gardens—my own and sometimes my friends gardens. Here’s my process and a sneak peek at a new garden I’m designing for this spring.

Creating a living privacy screen:

Planting a new patio garden:

New patio garden update:

#gardendesign #gardening #TheImpatientGardener

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My name is Erin and I love sharing inspiration and information with real-life gardeners. I live and garden in southeastern Wisconsin, zone 5.

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The Impatient Gardener
125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074


  1. May Swafford on July 23, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    Enjoyed the video. I would like videos on the entire process. Thank you.

  2. Natalie Spencer on July 23, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Did you build the bridge? I wanted one for years and it was finally built this past year. 16′ long, 6′ wide, arched. I planted rose bushes, salvia and gaillardia on either side of one end and I need to work on the opposite end but I’m unsure if I should do something different there or have it mirror the other side.

  3. Ess Cee on July 23, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Erin, from NZ. Thanks for this – really enjoyed hearing how a niggle becomes a plan and seeing your road entrance project beginnings. Loved your patio planting too. Hoping that because I am just found this video now 19 months after it was posted that I can binge watch a transformation 🙂 Enjoyed your honesty and approach. Have subscribed.

  4. Shelly Roman on July 23, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    I know this video is a year old but I loved the content! I am in Minnesota and I started a couple of new garden spaces last fall and can hardly wait for the snow to melt so I can get planting! The info and steps you provided are such a great help to my thinking and planning process. I have my graph paper out and ready to start sketching! Thank you for sharing this great video…I am glad it popped up!

  5. Judy Barton on July 23, 2021 at 8:33 pm


  6. Kimberly D on July 23, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    Hi! New to your channel and really enjoyed this video!

  7. Tara Bland on July 23, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    Omg you hit the nail on the head…that is SO me..

  8. Tina Christensen on July 23, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    I would live to hear more about your process. I bought a new house 2 years ago. The first year I tried to learn the environment to determine what I could do for my landscaping. Last summer I tackled flower beds and paths in my backyard. This summer I wanna start the front yard. My head keeps getting stuck at ‘curb appeal’. I took pics of my house and yard and started drawing in possible designs. I also walked out the measurements with a tape measure til my professional son could do the accurate measure. My hang up is I LOVE flowers and forget shrubs and grasses for winter interest. I also get hung knowing How many plants to put in a space. I either put too many or not enough. All your help is much appreciated! I’m trying winter sowing first time this year too. Thanks for all your videos! Ps. Love your dahlias!

  9. She Y on July 23, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    Too much waffle at the start.

  10. Garden UP Landscape on July 23, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    Hi! I’m a professional gardener and designer in Eastern Washington! Good video! You summed up about everything that you’re supposed to do when designing a garden, so even though you aren’t a pro you can certainly give yourself some kudos!

    What was that book you showed? I’d like a copy of that. If you have an Amazon affiliate account please post a link 😉

  11. Martha Figueroa on July 23, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    Love to watch how you design your garden I think you’re entre garden is amazingly beautiful.

  12. Jennifer McDuffie on July 23, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    Love this type of video. Designing my large shade garden space amid all the trees ( and their roots) and the deer had been a real challenge. Would love to see the entire process!

  13. Patrick McCrank on July 23, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    Clearly your in the Burlington area of Wisconsin. So. How do you manage all the thistles and creeping Charlie? A low maintenance garden is the only type of garden but its almost impossible due to weeds. I’ve tried garden cloth cardboard and loads of wood mulch. I’m beginning to think all stone and just containers.

  14. Denise Addis on July 23, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    I just love listening to you talk. Yes, please take us through the process especially when you start to pick out plants for the sloped area. That is my whole yard except for around the house and there are hardly any videos on planting on slopes or hills.

  15. JerriBerriW Gardenet 园丁梦 on July 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    yes to Piet Outdolf and yes to the New Perennial Movement! ❤

  16. Shelley Sammon on July 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    Hi there
    I just love your spirit, you have an awesome natural personality that is so relaxing and watch.
    I love being in the garden and digging in the dirt, the same way you describe gardening.
    You’re one of my favorite YouTube gardener’s to watch, my go to gal.
    Such a pleasure to listen to you talk gardening.

  17. Kristi Brooks on July 23, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    And yes please, could we watch the creation unfold? Always fun to watch and learn how other folks work.

  18. Grethe Valle on July 23, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    Hey Eirin! I’m a lady from Norway who came across your video and is very excited. Will be creating a new garden after buying a slightly older property. I like your method and will follow you.

  19. Tina Christensen on July 23, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    Who was the designer and the name of his book you referred to? I didnt catch it.

  20. John G on July 23, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Nice Video. I’m looking for info on laying out a vegetable garden, mostly common plants, but what to plant next to each other, or not, what plants to plant around various veggies to attract good bugs to eat the bad bug’s, etc.. Thanks

  21. Marilyn Mourdock on July 23, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Using a garden hose to outline a new bed area or walkway is very helpful for me. You can see it from different angles and adjust it easily before anything permanent goes in.

  22. Helena Chase on July 23, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    hmm. I’m glad I saw this. I bought 12 acres with almost nothing planted in the middle of the bald prairie !
    But there are overgrown hedges and a thin shelter belt of spruce.
    I have to haul water as well as there are no wells in the area… Challenging , hell ya !
    Deciding on a english garden near the house and within the hedges but with more grasses and native simple roses…
    Venturing out will become much more naturalistic due to watering challenges ! thank you Dear Lady !

  23. Abraham Champagne on July 23, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    I love the idea of sorting thru Pinterest photos of good curb appeal. I’ve never had a garden concept. I just buy plants I like. This idea may help me plan my landscape out. Thanks

  24. Mary Alexis on July 23, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you for simplifying this process. Look forward to more.

  25. Sue Goetz on July 23, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    you can buy garden designs online

  26. terri mathis on July 23, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    Good vid. The worst is when you have shade from a tree and then you have to take the tree out and it’s full sun now on those shade plants!!!

  27. Denise Reed on July 23, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    What do you spray for deer resistance?

  28. Karla Platt on July 23, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Erin we are going to need to place a platform type bridge over a drainage ditch area. Did you build the one in this video or purchase it pre-made and where?

  29. Margie Perry on July 23, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    But make the bridge over the creek big enough, width and lengthwise because as you do look at it from the street and the sky downward……those are huge trees and quite a long area on the left…….you don’t want a rinky-dink little bridge… will look like a toy and as though a "homeowner " did it. Don’t get me wrong, slot of smart homeowners out there, but what I mean is sometimes things aren’t put into perspective and proportions as in the "whole" of the area or patio or room or whatever is being worked on. You have some great ideas and I like the idea of taking your time as you have said ,( a couple of years or so)….and then have things start to come together in your thinking…..

  30. Emily LaRonde on July 23, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    This is exactly the kind of "garden show" I’ve been looking for. My garden is very much cottage-try-some-new-plants-over-there. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and killed a lot of plants, but that’s been part of the fun for me. I’ve been having some great "aha" moments following The Impatient Gardener – can’t wait to get going when it warms up…

  31. Loving your Lifestyle on July 23, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    I can relate to what you are saying. I have a small backyard. I do not have good soil. My soil is old black clay. I have been mixing top soil and potting for nutrition.

  32. Cass Collins on July 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    Very helpful video!

  33. Helen Bean on July 23, 2021 at 9:10 pm


  34. moses adonis on July 23, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    i am working at landscaping so i really want to learn more about how to start up the garden from scretch in front of sarff entrance.

  35. Mary Rekar on July 23, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    I love your tulip pillows. Can you share where you got them?

  36. Karen Magner on July 23, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    Wow I was so surprised that you design your gardens the same exact way that I do! I would add that I sit inside the house and look out various windows and think what would look good out there. And I’m always moving things around when I walked by and think that would look better somewhere else. Thanks—excellent ideas, and useful as I live in the North also. Looking forward to checking out your other YouTube videos.

  37. Sheila London on July 23, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    Would love to watch the whole process!

  38. Kay's Home Gardening on July 23, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    Too much talk ,where is the garden?

  39. Margie Perry on July 23, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Great video. Thank you. Yes! More

  40. Mary Gerndt on July 23, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    HI Erin. I’m a fellow WI zone 5 er living in a shaded deer playground. Do you have any ideas for me?

  41. Jennie Williams on July 23, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    Erin I love the idea of a creek with a bridge that you can sit on. What do we do in our gardens? (besides work, plan, work, plan, work)
    I love to paint, but I get so busy that I don’t paint. Places to sit, to contemplate and talk with out buddies about stuff – and maybe paint – that’s important.
    Warmest regards

  42. craig dreisbach on July 23, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    I loved the process. When I caught a glimpse of some of the plants on your list I realized I had never heard of most of them. I’ve got some work to do. I also agree totally with never planting a single of something. There needs to be groups to hold your attention. I love the pergola over the garage, I assume that you put that in. Kind regards from Vermont.