Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 3
   June 2011
 
   Features of Great Garden Design
 

Photographer's yardPhotographer's yard

The photographer's yard at the height of the growing season.

As a garden-design instructor at a community college and a seminar presenter for Lee Valley Tools, I've noticed that more homeowners are designing their own gardens. Whether motivated by budgetary considerations or simply a do-it-yourself attitude, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from creating your own garden masterpiece.

Start With a Plan
To begin the design process, you need a base plan of your property, drawn to scale. This should accurately plot the location of all pertinent features (property lines, vegetation, grade changes, stone walls, structures, overhead and below-ground wires, etc.). If you have a property survey, it will help in plotting many of these elements; however, you will still need to confirm utility locations with the relevant authorities.

You can plot your own plan using two 100' measuring tapes. Position the first tape parallel to the house, a foot or two out from the back wall, and walk the width of the yard. At this tape's midway mark, position the second tape at a right angle and walk the depth of your lot. You can now plot existing features using these two tapes as reference points. For example, if you want to plot the location of a large oak tree, travel the length of the tape to the point where you are even with the tree and note the distance. Turn at a 90° angle towards the tree and again measure the distance. Mark the tree's location on your plan. Be thorough, as this analysis is a cornerstone of good design.

When measuring your property, make note of various opportunities and constraints that will influence your design. An opportunity may be an old stone wall that provides shelter and a special micro-climate for growing unusual plants. An area with several large trees that cast a lot of shade, or a low area that provides a damp breeding ground for unwelcome mosquitoes may be constraints.

 
 
               
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