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Garden Design

Landscaping with a purpose

Amellia Hope

Amellia Hope

November 19, 2013

One of the problems with planning our own landscaping is that we do not really plan it. We visit gardens, see the gardens of friends or in the magazines and online, and pick and choose with exclamations of how that would be beautiful in that spot and wouldn’t it be nice to have some of those gorgeous red flowers for over there….. In the end we have a long list of ideas, typically one that would require a garden of 10 acres to hope to fit them all and a budget of a small country to accomplish – and then we settle for picking out a few new plants at the garden center.

forest1How to Make an Actual Plan
There is a simple way to transform plans into actions. The key to it is of course to make the actual plan. While professional landscapers have the experience to visualize an area with a ‘before and after’ in their minds with some accuracy, most of us do not. A good size ball of string or yarn and a couple dozen makeshift stakes will go a long way towards changing ideas into plans.

Take the stakes and the string to yard (it will be easier if you benefit from the help of a second pair of hands) and spend an hour marking out you’re your garden. Simply put the stakes every few feet and a wrap of string a few inches above the ground to make it clearly visible. The average yard can be done in less than 30 minutes.

1. Start with the perimeter of the yard if it is not already fenced in and clearly contained.

2. Make a mini string fence around each of your current planted plots.

3. If there is a path worn in the grass mark that out as well.

This will accomplish a several things. Most importantly, it clearly defines scale so you know how much space you have to work with. It will also make very obvious which places are empty and could use some additional plantings. From this point is easy to add string enclosures for new plots. What is the point of all this?

This will allow you to look at the individual areas of your garden while keeping the context of the whole. It will also make you be able to clearly visualize what can and cannot be done. In the case of fencing or other more permanent projects, it will allow you to get accurate measurements as well. If you intend to buy fencing direct as opposed to hiring a contractor you will purchase the correct amount along with the correct number of corner pieces. Unfortunately, experience with contractors will tell you it is a good idea to do your own measurements anyway to ensure what you are being sold in terms of feet of fencing and labor is accurate to your needs.


Once you have covered your garden with these little string partitions, sit down with a paper and draw a rough diagram of what you have and what you want to add. Number each section and label it. These numbers become a list for your plan. Write each number down and what you need or want to do. It may look like –

1. Mulch and weed this area
2. Plant annuals in this area (12’ x 3’)
3. Purchase and place paving stones for this path (22’ x 30” )
4. Etc .. etc…

This has broken your landscaping dream into easy actionable projects, as well as identified ahead of time where the idea in your mind simply will not fit correctly into your garden area as a whole. It also has set clearly defined amounts of space for each project so when you go to the garden store or place your online orders you are basing it on an actual number of plants or square feet needed instead of guessing. This simple method of planning that takes minimal time will help you transform the long list of great ideas into an actionable plan of individual tasks.

[This post was supplied by Buy Fencing Direct]

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Anne Wareham
9 years ago

Did anyone plan the duck?

Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre

Very helpful information. Some think that landscaping should be left to the professionals but with lots of great ideas and how-to’s on the Internet, landscaping can be easily done like a pro.