How to Choose a Gardening Plan for Your Landscaping

We all want to have that perfect landscape, but it can be difficult to know how to make your gardening dreams come true. Proper planning is the key! Read on for useful information regarding how to choose a landscaping design and theme. We also discuss the benefits of pre-planning your landscape, and we cover how to begin the design process.

Choosing a Garden Plan

Garden Design and Landscaping Plan View

It’s helpful to know what formats professional garden planners use when creating your own design. We suggest working with a variety of garden planning schema to discover what works best for you. If you are already working with a professional, or are considering doing so, knowing a little bit about garden design approaches will make you a better educated consumer.

Overhead Garden Plans. This is the most common type of plan, showing a bird’s eye overhead view of the landscape plan. The value of an overhead plan is that it lets you visualize exactly where the garden elements will be located. More importantly, overhead plans incorporate scaled measurements, which help determine the spatial proximity of the elements under consideration. An overhead plan answers the basic question, “Will everything fit in the space?”

Planting Plans are essential to the garden designer and landscape architect because they specify the location of new and existing plantings. A planting plan will indicate the exact location and position of larger specimens and other important features, as well as clusters of featured plants. A planting plan is especially vital if contractors will be planting without the designer present.

Bubble Diagrams help associate relationships between concepts or areas of the garden. They use simple shapes to make it easy to appreciate different parts of the design. For instance, a circle could indicate a tree while a smaller circle is used to represent a shrub. A bubble diagram might show how different parts of the garden will be suited for different uses, or they might depict colors or planting schemes.

3D Drawings are becoming very popular with designers given the relative ease to create once the Overhead or Planting plans are created. Google Sketch-up is one of the more popular programs used to create 3D drawings to give the homeowner a great feel for the finished product. This type of design allows for a virtual tour of your garden from many angles to help dial in the garden of your dreams.

Working plans are used to generate and sketch ideas, either during the initial brainstorming phase, or to figure out smaller features and details once the work is underway.

No matter what kind of garden plans you use, it will be helpful to understand garden plan symbols. These are common symbols used by industry professionals in garden plans.

Garden Plans: Basic Considerations

Landscaping 3D BBQ Rendering

There are several considerations when working with your garden plans.

1. Intended Use – One basic job of any garden plan is to illustrate how you intend to use your garden space. Are you going to use the space to grow veggies, or do you want to be able to enjoy family sports on a lush lawn? Other elements could include water features, walkways, planting areas, outdoor living zones, and so forth. Since each of these spaces is going to have different requirements in terms of soil, sun, and materials needed, it is helpful to outline and map these considerations at the onset.

2. Plot It Out – A bit of measuring and math is required in garden planning. You’ll have to measure your available space, as well as the elements that you intend to install. Once these figures are determined, you can create a to-scale garden plan. A simple scale equates 10 feet in the garden to 1 inch in your plan. You use a scale representation to determine the exact location and placement of the elements being considered.

3. Sun and Shade – Different plants have different light requirements. Your garden plan should consider the position of the sun at different points in the day, and at different times of year. Areas of bright sun should be indicated, as well as areas of shade, and partial shade. This information will help you determine which plants will work best in which areas.

4. Getting Started – The first step is to measure your yard. Once you have these measurements, work with graph paper to plot existing elements, such as your house, the garage, sidewalks and walkways, existing trees, and so forth. It may require several efforts to get all this information in your plan, but the end result should be a graphical, to-scale representation of the existing space. Once you have represented the existing space, you can get creative. It might help to use tracing paper, or you can make photocopies of ideas you like, and then start to plot new elements. Another choice is using a computer program to not only plot out your space, but also to incorporate the passage of time. Many landscape maintenance and design programs allow you to see what your plan will look like five, ten, or fifteen years down the road.

5. Think Long Term – Those new plants you just bought are going to get a lot bigger. Do your research and determine the width and height of your plants at maturity. Often this information is on the planting tag that comes with the plant, but Internet and print resources will contain this information as well. Follow those guidelines; otherwise your garden will seem overgrown and crowded in just a few years’ time.

Guest author Steve Stewart is President of Landscape East & West, Portland, Oregon’s landscaping design professionals. Landscape East & West is an award-winning full-service landscaping company specializing in low-maintenance landscape design, garden design, irrigation systems, drainage management and more.