Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three Steps in Planning A Garden–Part 1

Planning - The Key to Success

1) Envision The Space
2) Preparation of the Space
3) Pick the Plants
This is the first in a series on Planning a Garden.  The keyword here is Plan.  The process may seem slow and unnecessary, but the biggest gardening mistakes are caused by not having a plan.  Mistakes, or missteps, can include a space that does not function, a project that is too much work for the DIYer, or a project that soars well past the budget limits.

The first step is to Envision the Space.  What is the useful purpose of this space? What do you want to do with this area?
This is where the homeowner can let the imagination go wild.  Is this going to be an entertainment area where space is needed to seat 20 guests?
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Is this a grassy area for the kids to play soccer?
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Maybe it’s a section of the front yard that frames the steps to the front door? 
Does a view of a utility equipment need a screen?
hide utilities
Can a more private area be made?  Maybe a street is too close, or a neighbor's space needs to be blocked. 
Perhaps a perennial garden is a dream, or a cutting garden suits the fancy of the homeowner.  Shrubs and trees that offer shade may be needed.
cutting gardenno shade
Focusing on a specific space, a design style is needed.  A style that reflects the home’s architecture, and the homeowner can be chosen.  Here, again, the garden styles are limited only by the imagination. 
Some types of gardens are: rock gardens, cottage gardens, veggie gardens, shade gardens, Asian inspired gardens, water gardens, sunny gardens, native plant gardens, wild flower gardens, rain gardens, bog gardens, herb gardens, rose gardens, container gardens.  Orchards and fruit bearing bushes like blue berry and apple trees can also make a landscape idea come to reality. Check out a previous post I wrote on Design
for examples of design styles. 

The Envision portion of this plan also includes: How much time is available 1) to create this space, and 2) how much time is the maintenance going to take?
crew building garden
If the work needs to be hired out, how much will that cost?  Is the upkeep doable on a weekly basis, or is that going to be hired out?  As good as our intentions, sometimes physical abilities are limited and the upkeep on a garden starts to become a chore. Be realistic.  Jobs, family and other activities can limit the amount of garden time that is available,.
hired workers
Also, envision the materials that will be need to complete the project.  This can be as simple as a bag of compost, or as detailed as pavers. Water features, raised beds, decks, and walkways can all be part of the vision.
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Envision this space at night!   Lighting is always nice.  Landscape lighting comes in solar, low-voltage, and more permanent installations involving a licensed electrician. Lighting extends the use of the garden into the night, and provides safety as well.
easy lightslighting
Envision where the hose bibs are and visualize pulling, yanking, and dragging hoses to the plants, and through the plants. If a sprinkler system is desired, what will a plumber cost?  Or can simple emitters be placed into containers and flower beds by the homeowner?
Rainbird emitters water
pulsatorpro install
Visualizing the garden for any use is individual preference.  Unique  requirements make no decision a wrong decision.
Now, the final element that needs to be determined:  the budget.  Often, money runs out before the vision is complete.  Count on it!  Review materials, and make substitutions.  Check out the size of the space – can it be reduced?  Hardscapes, lighting, and water sources all have a price.
Get a knowledgeable contractor to give quotes. And consider implementing the plan over a season or more to spread the expenses over time.
Taking this first step in creating a landscape plan will go a long way to Envisioning the  yard, garden, and outdoor spaces.
Next time I’ll talk about Preparation of the space.
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