Culinary Delight
Mutual, I'm Sure!

Dreaming and Scheming

I'm planning a new garden bed for my backyard, and I thought it might be interesting to follow the process from start to finish. . .

The Dreaming.

I love to plan and design new garden areas, but it takes a lot of time and brain-energy for me.  In the early planning stages, I spend most of my time looking at other gardens -- in books and magazines, mostly, but I also spend time looking at real gardens for ideas and inspiration. 

Once I get serious about planning, I gather all the books and photos together. . .

Garden design process back bed 006

and let the ideas begin to gel in my mind.  I'm fortunate to have a garden design work area.  I can spread things out and not worry about them being in the way while I dream.

Garden design process back bed 004

There are so many things to consider when beginning a garden design project.  Purpose. Color scheme. Sun or shade.  Existing landscape. Budget.  In my case, I want to design a new garden area that will pull together two existing - but separate - gardens AND create a privacy screen at the back of my yard.  (When our house was built, about 20 years ago, I'm sure there WAS a privacy screen.  There is a line of Austrian Pine trees along the back fence, and I'm sure they were just the right height to screen the view.  Now, though, 20 years later, those trees have grown very tall -- and the trunks just don't screen very well!  Plus, right after we moved in 6 years ago, the Austrian Pines got "tip blight" and we lost several of them.)

So. . . for weeks (more like months!) I've been dreaming and thinking through different ideas for my new garden area.  This weekend, I was finally ready to put it down on paper!  

The Scheming.

When I have my garden idea in mind, the next step is to sketch it out.  I take an as-is photo of the area I'm designing, and print it out on regular-sized paper. 

Garden design process back bed 001 

Then, I lay a sheet of vellum paper over the top of the photo and sketch my design idea right over the photo.

Garden design process back bed 003 

At this point, I don't worry much about scale or measurements.  I'm just trying to capture on paper whatever garden ideas have been floating around in my brain.  So I can see for myself what it might "look like" -- and so I can show others (Tom) what the heck I'm talking about.

My final sketch looks something like this. . .

Garden design process back bed 002 

While I'm sketching, I keep a running list of specific plants I might want to include in the design.  But sometimes I just note plants in a more general sense --- like, I need a mid-sized, vase-shaped flowering shrub.  I tend not to get bogged down in the specifics at the sketching point.

The next step, though, is where "specifics" start to matter!  You can't plant a new bed based on a rough sketch, so now it's time to measure and get the "real" plan drawn.  Because I'm creating an entirely new garden, there are no existing boundaries -- I need to determine my own.  I needed to lay out my new garden in the yard -- so I could visually see it, and then actually measure it.  I used cones to plot out my new bed, shifting and shifting again until I got the space I wanted.

Garden design process 001 

Once I was pleased with the shape and size, I gathered my trusty tools (two measuring tapes, paper and pencil, and a helper -Tom), I needed to get the exact dimensions of my new bed on paper.  This is a very tedious task -- because I want the exact depth measurement of the bed at 2' intervals.  Why?  So I can draft my plan to scale.

Garden design process 004 

Using two tape measures really helps with this process.  I just lay one tape measure across the length of the new bed, and then move the other tape measure in 2' increments.  

Garden design process 005 

Tom reads the depth measurement as we move along the length of the new bed, and I record measurements on paper.

Garden design process 006

Now I can translate the measurements in a scale draft.  Which I'll be doing. . . later today!  Stay tuned for future installments!


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Wow! Who knew there was so much involved?! Looking forward to seeing the progress.


I'm looking forward to watching this process!


Now that's a plan! I'm studying landscape design and haven't seen anyone outside of students/professionals be this involved in their creations. Can't wait to see what you do.


WOW! Did you go to art school? How do you have time to do all that you do!?!

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