hardscape, landscape design, native plants, plant selection

GARDEN DESIGN: Drawing Your Plan

Got a great view? Play it up. A not-so-great view? Put a mirror up instead!

Now that you have a BASIC LANDSCAPE LAYOUT graphed out from last time, you should know where permanent features and plants will be staying.  Time to make final decisions on what goes where for your new do/redo.

HIT: if you know the why, where, and what, PICKING PLANTS should be fun instead of overwhelming

1)  Think about the why of it to determine the where.  Clients tell me they want their summer kitchen in gazebo at the back of the property…..WHY?  Schlepping out to the back forty every time you want burgers isn’t practical. Locate things so they are the most convenient and work for you, not you for them.

2) Pick the right tool for the task.  Is the view from the guy behind you’s 2nd story gameroom YOUR family room?  Shade trees at the fence may seem the best solution, but how long it will take them to grow?  A pergola covered with fast-growing evergreen vines above the windows may be just right to block the view.  Make notes on your decisions.

3) Will it work?  Lay out your proposed new beds, patios, etc. not only on paper, but in your landscape.  Use a water hose, strings, or spray paint to mark things out and live with your new design for a few weeks, if possible.  Bed edges shouldn’t look like a drunk guy designed it – even if he DID.  Lawn areas need to be trial-run to ensure the mower will make the curves okay, too.  How about watering?  Can you get a wheel barrow to an area easily?  Think about maintenance as well as use.

Make your plan simple and easy to read.

Move all this onto a clean piece of graph paper that will be your final plan. Note existing materials and the new stuff, including sizes of items – including plants’ names, or at least sizes and types (15′ TREE vs. 3′ EVERGREEN SHRUB) –  even if you don’t know WHICH plants yet. To make wise plant choices, start by showing your plan to your local independent nurseryman. If you have a plant list or photos, those should go, too. (Remember, you taped those samples to the edge of your bubble diagram a few weeks ago?)  Contact your county extension office and Master Gardener groups. They’ll have lists of appropriate plant materials for your area and often give free classes. (By FREE I mean your tax dollars already paid for them!) I’m also a fan of native plant societies found in most states. They’re a great resource, with online plant lists and often with free classes and plant sales. Garden clubs, the Herb Society, community colleges, and many other groups offer free or inexpensive horticultural education classes, too.  And libraries and independent bookstores often have books and magazines featuring plants perfect for your area.

The best way to get a beautiful landscape? PLAN for it!

Okay, don’t get frustrated.  I’ve spent the last 20+ years doing this, so don’t expect to become an expert overnight.  You don’t have to know it all; you just have to know where to get help. And one of the spots you can get it is HERE.  Just send me a note and I’ll try to direct you down the right path.  Or even help you create the right one!

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