Oh it’s spring! A glorious time of year when tiny shoots of green appear in the sea of brown and life begins anew. Garden tools are resurrected from the shed and the pilgrimage to the garden center fills us with anticipation and delight. But what should you buy and where should you put it? The dilemma every gardener faces…too many great plants, so few spaces.
As I was working the plant sale for the Native Plant Society last week, so many people approached me with visions of grandeur and absolutely no clue. They wanted to change, add to, start over…but no clue as to what to do. If you find yourself in the mood for a makeover, or even a tiny touchup, here’s a technique you can easily use.
Take a Picture
Standing as far back from your garden site as possible, take a picture. If it is the front of your home, you may be able to find a good picture on Google maps. (Search for your house number and then you can opt for street view.) If you do this, take a screen shot of your home.
Print the Picture
Print out a copy of your picture. You may even want to print several copies. Don’t worry that the picture is not perfect, you aren’t going to be framing this.
Mark Up the Picture
This is the fun (or frustrating) part. The goal is to mark up your picture so you can get some ideas for changing or adding to your garden. For marking up your picture, you can opt to use a Sharpie directly on the picture or lay a piece of tracing paper over your picture to mark it up. Another option is to bring your photo into drawing program on your computer and mark up the picture electronically.
Below you see the photo taken above and laid under tracing paper. This is a very good method for sketching out your ideas.
I use this technique often when playing with ideas for my clients or when I am trying to convey an idea to the client.
Here is an example. This client was renovating a wonderful bungalow and wanted me to draw up a master landscaping plan. He had no idea what he wanted other than very little lawn space.
Once you have marked up some ideas, take your picture outside. Use water hoses, rope, or even long measuring tapes to layout your lawn shapes (more here) or bed spaces. Play with it until you get the idea down on the ground and feel comfortable with it.
Sometimes it doesn’t take a major overhaul to really get a great impact. Below I consulted with a couple who had a very large front lawn and small beds in front of the house. By showing them how they could make a big difference by enlarging the front beds and pulling them out from the front of the house, these clients were able to easily see the change it would make. The imposing lawn no longer shoved those poor foundation plants up against the house. The front entrance and lawn space was now in balance.
Taking a picture of your space and tracing over it comes in handy with new construction as well. When a house is under construction, the outdoor space is usually a big mess. It’s really hard to visualize the possibilities. Below I have used this same method of drawing over a picture to show some clients three options for fencing styles.
Next time you want to make some changes to your garden space, take a picture. This is an easy method for looking at options before your buy. Once you’ve drawn over your picture with ideas, take that picture on down to your nearest garden center and go crazy. Or, better yet, give a landscape designer a call to put your ideas into a solid plan!