Friday, September 24, 2010

Garden Design I - Getting Started with a Plan

Is your landscaping ready for an update? 

It's tempting to just run out,
grab some plants and
stick them in the ground.

But a little planning is
worth the effort, and can help you
transform your yard from
oh so ordinary to
one of a kind.

Getting Started
This is a good time to ask yourself a few questions:

What is my goal? 
Your goal will influence where you focus your efforts. 
What is most important to you? 
     The view of your house from the street?
     Views of your yard from inside the house?
     Creating a backyard oasis?
What is my style? 
Magazines and books can help you with this. 
Gather clippings of magazine phots of gardens that appeal to you.
As you work through the design process, refer to these photos for inspiration and to help determine your style.  Are your inspiration gardens formal or cottage style?  Do certain color themes predominate?
Make a Base
Once you have decided on a goal, it's a good idea to create a plan. 
First, make a base which shows existing conditions.  It's not hard and will help organize your project.
Measure the area and draw it on graph paper, assigning a scale of 1 foot per box (or per 1/2 box for a larger area).  An easy way to estimate the dimensions of large areas is to measure your stride - then simply walk it off and multiply the number of steps by that measurement.
Draw any existing plants with a circle scaled to their size. 
The base is your template for planning and will aid in determining how many plants to buy.
Take Inventory
Note the conditions of the site on your base:
     Sun/shade/part shade
     Soil consistency - sandy clay...
     Soil Ph (buy a simple a soil test kit at a garden store)
     Colors of existing plant foliage and flowers
     Direction of views to and from the area
This inventory will guide you in choosing the right plants for the conditions so they thrive. 
In Garden Design II, we'll look at the next step, Creating a Concept.
Happy Gardening!

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