Plan a Garden by Numbers

Last weekend I was reading Anne Halpin’s Homescaping and I came across this tip to share with you: To make a bed or border that is naturally proportionate and pleasing to the eye, use Fibonacci numbers for its dimensions.

“Fibonacci numbers” is a sequence created by simple addition. Each consecutive number equals the sum of the two numbers that preceded it: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. to infinity. (1 + 2 = 3; 2 + 3 = 5; 3  + 5 = 8 and so on.)

Using any two adjacent numbers in Fibonacci’s sequence will create a shape of good proportions—for example, a bed that’s 3 by 5 feet, or a border 8 feet deep and 13 feet long.

Of course, adhering to Fibonacci numbers won’t make sense in every situation, but where your landscape allows you some choice in dimensions, it’s a simple way to achieve a subtle but powerful effect.

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4 thoughts on “Plan a Garden by Numbers

  1. I might add – a bed that large needs to have plants included that have a large mature size. Small ground cover type plants are useful along the edges but filling the entire bed with small plants only draws attention to the large area and the plants are not even noticed. So when buying plants pay attention to mature size and follow recommended spacing for the plants. When first planted it will look sparse and empty but give the plants time to mature and it will be full.

  2. This article needs more explanation for non-experts. So, if I have a place to put a bed or border 23 feet long, how wide should it be? Can someone explain this better?

    • Ute, if you extend the Fibonacci chain as directed, the nearest set of numbers for your garden would be 13 x 21 feet. Having designed a great many gardens over time, I feel that this approach has limited application in the typical home landscape. A long border garden can be difficult to maintain beyond a width of 8-10 feet. Should you wish to make a major statement and use the 13′ depth, you can deal with the maintenance challenge by incorporating a service path or stepping stones within the garden.

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