step 1: Work from A Map of Your Property.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s easy to create one, and we can tell you how to do it. Learn how to map your garden.
step 2: Imagine How You Want Your Garden to Look.
Many gardeners keep clippings of garden ideas when they see them in publications. If you were keeping notes and taking photos this past year, looking at them now will stir your imagination and remind you of things you wanted to include in your garden plan. If you don’t have clippings, perusing current gardening publications may generate some ideas to incorporate in your plan.
After looking at your own garden photos and those from publications, try to picture how your garden would look if you could do whatever you wanted with it. Look out your windows or walk out to the street and look back at your yard. There may be particular areas of your garden that you’ll want to focus on because they are highly visible. Visualizing your ideal garden is a good way to create a design that you can then translate to paper.
step 3: Think Through Your Plan.
- Plan subtraction as well as addition. Designing a garden plan is more than just adding new plants or hardscape features. This is a good opportunity to think about ripping out that hedge you’ve always hated, or perhaps cutting down a sickly old tree that blocks the view from a window.
- Plan for all seasons. You have to look at your garden year-round, so incorporate some plants or features that will still be attractive when the summer growing season is over.
- Decide what is most important to you. Would you rather have a flowering tree in the middle of the yard, or would you rather have an open view of your flower borders and beds? Some planning decisions may be difficult, but your garden plan should reflect what you like the most.
- Decide how much maintenance you want to do. The number and types of plants you choose – as well as the kind of features (such as ponds or fountains) you incorporate in your plan – will determine how much work is involved in maintaining your yard. Don’t create more work than you will want to do.
step 4: Sketch Your Ideas.
After looking at pictures, considering the options, and visualizing your ideal garden, it’s time to put your ideas on paper. Make photocopies of your yard map and start sketching! You’ll probably create a number of versions before you have a garden plan that meets your needs, but that’s half the fun.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your artistic abilities, your local computer or electronics store is likely to have one of the many, inexpensive and easy-to-use home landscape design programs out there. Once installed, you can build your yard map and use the software features to do your designing.
Once you get started, you might be surprised how easily the ideas start flowing and how much fun designing your plan can be. Plus, later this year when you see your plan taking shape in the garden, you’ll be thankful for the time spent on planning now!