Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Landscape Design and Coach In the Garden

From In the Garden

Can you guess what I have been busy doing? I have finally ventured into the realm of landscape design. Yes, I've been designing landscapes a very long time but I've never really put the designs down on paper. This school term sees me in a landscape design course at Nashville State. Our instructor is very knowledgeable and is sharing a great deal of tips with us all, too bad the above pictured design had to be completed for a client prior to my third class. I find that kind of funny-and difficult.

Fortunately I have some really good landscape design books (Todd Bertauski is the author) that are fairly simple and self explanatory about the process of drawing landscape designs. Still, I find that I have to find my own style of putting my designs down on paper. Conveying the look of a landscape is not an easy thing to do. Not to mention measuring, erasing, drafting, erasing, labeling, erasing. Oh, did I say erasing again? Let me explain. Landscape designs are typically drawn on a high quality see through paper called vellum. When you make a mistake and have to erase-grrrrr-it is difficult to fix it completely. I am learning this the hard way. An alternative to drawing directly on the vellum is to put tracing paper over the vellum and draw your design on the tracing paper. Then you put that tracing paper under the vellum and draw the design again. That is an easy process-if you have a light table. I do not. Can you see where I am going? Landscape designs take a lot of time and attention to detail.

I have added landscape design to my business model. Many clients seem to desire landscape design more so than garden coaching, or if they need some coaching, they want design too. It only makes sense to add that element of the horticulture market niche to my business.

As we go along I may share some tips and methods of drawing landscape designs so you too can do your own landscape designs. It seems there are not a lot of sources of information for learning this skill-unless you wish to pay for it. Additionally, if you Google landscape design, guess what you come up with? Landscape designs with no input on how you get the actual thing on the paper-not an easy thing! So I'll try to help. It was always my intent to share what little knowledge I have about gardening with you readers when I started this blog. I have very little knowledge about drawing landscape designs but will doing quite a few in the next few months so we can learn together. If there is anything specifically related to the process you might like to see I'll try to fit it in here if you let me know, either by email or a comment.

Why I never thought of venturing into landscape design before is a question I am asking myself quite a bit lately....

in the garden....

My clients are quite delighted with their landscape design and are busy purchasing the plants and installing the design themselves-with a bit of guidance from me along the way. I am currently building my portfolio of landscape designs. Look for updates as I go along. This will be the first design I'll feature but there will be many more. I have before pictures and will take after pictures (required for certification though not required to practice landscape design in case you were wondering) once the landscape is complete. I can't wait! While these particular clients don't often check things on the computer they have given me permission to post their design and are most excited about it all. I'm excited because without the referral and the need the clients had to get a landscape design I might not have seriously considered designing landscapes so I am grateful to these folks.

P.S. The title block is cut out to protect the privacy of the clients but the direction North is straight up (that is part of the title block).

Do check out my new website located here for more info on landscape design.

Matron of Down on the Allotment is posted a dogblog post. Do check out all the dogs in the garden and send her a note letting her know about your the garden.

Update: The Blotanical Awards winners have been announced. Congratulations go out to all the winners. In the Garden did not win any awards but just being nominated was winning enough!


  1. I remember the class I took at A&M in 2004 titled Landscape Design, and it had a lot of homework. A lot of sketching, and layout. It was well worth it for me in the end, and I used those skills to create Project 802.

  2. Tina, you never cease to amaze me! It must be exciting as well as fun to stay connected with what you love the garden. Would love to see updates later on. For someone like me who doesn't know the 'd' of drawing, it all looks difficult!! Wish you the very best! And yes, I'll check out the links. Thanks.

  3. The drawing does look difficult and hard to understand, the class must be well worth it.

  4. Oh Tina that is great! Something I always wished I had done. I can't wait for updates on this new adventure.

  5. Good job, Tina! It looks very professional, just like the guys in the landscape design room! Sounds like a fun class!

  6. Looks great Tina. I am using the landscape designer for our SC new home. I gave him my rough drawing and have received a very neat and lovely design. Knowing a bit about my likes and dislikes in the plant world helped him figure out what to put into the landscape. At this point we are having him do the sod, irrigation, beds, foundation plantings, and the bigger trees in the backyard. Starting with a clean slate can be $$$!!
    Want me to email you my first attempt? You will probably laugh.

  7. That is going to be a good skill to acquire, and I am glad I know you, at least by blogging, so I can learn a bit about this. My sister is always asking me to come design her front yard and I say, no way, I am not ruining your front yard for you. Maybe I can pick up some tips from you so I can help her out. Thanks...

  8. Nice job! It looks a like a class that would be a lot of fun to take. Is there a stencil set that gives the trees such a uniform look in your drawing or are they all hand drawn? It looks great!

  9. Tina - your design looks fabulous! I've seen enough professional designs to know one when I see it (having worked with landscape designers on three out of three houses that I've built).

    I think it is great that you have added this to your talents. Around here, a homeowner cannot install a landscape, even modify it, without a design submission to a HOA, if living in a "neighborhood" with covenants. So... I hope they teach you how to go to the Registrar of Deeds to retrieve plats when homeowners don't have a copy of theirs!

    Congratulations! I will take a look at your website.


  10. Jackie, Oh yes! Tons of sketching and homework. In fact, I have to do some textures today for class and need to get on it. It is fun though.

    Kanak, Landscape design ties in with all I do so well. Our instructor says many landscape architects don't know plants well but can design. Me, I know plants and now have to learn to design to make a good balance. I love doing it and can't wait to get real good-faster.

    Dawn, It is actually very easy to understand. You can't really see the plant key because the picture is small and not the clearest on here, but all plants are labeled with a four letter key. You just follow it to the key. I introduced only about 10 new types of plant material in order to make it easier for the client to manage and work with. Wait til you see my landscape-now that will be a bit complicated to say the least with so many plants here.

    Linda, It is my hope to help others learn it. It is such a scary thing with the scale and all and I had no idea how to use an architects scale-now I know. Yahoo! Once you have that down and know the symbols it is pretty easy-just detail oriented. Maybe we'll do a garden design vs a landscape design and learn a smaller scale.

    Lzyjo, Thank you! I am still stunned I drew it. If you saw my earlier attempts on graph paper you would be too. It is fun.

    Janet, Send it to me and I'll look at it. I enjoy learning and the more I see and read the more I learn. If you want suggestions just tell me. I've seen your garden in VA but I suspect your SC may be more informal and natural?

    Rosey, You would do great designing your sister's frontyard. You know plants, just measure out the area, put on vellum, and place tracing paper over it and start playing with plants that work well there based on your sister's desires and the house style. She'd be lucky to have you do it.

    Dave, I use circle templates to get the circles a uniform size to scale. These are guidelines. Then I hand draft the tree symbols. The entire thing is hand drafted. I used my own discretion in depicting each piece of shrubbery or plant based on the texture in real life. I tried to emulate that here. Deciduous trees have their own symbol vs evergreen but we know a holly has a different texture from a juniper. I drew it all out. It helps to visualize the difference. The landscape templates you can get in Office Depot are not used so much. At least not in my class as I've been taught. But a compass, T-bar, ruler, protractor and circle templates are key.

    Cameron, Thank you so much! I was amazed how I could make it look so professional being self taught. I submit it to my class tomorrow to see what the teacher thinks of it but I am pretty proud of it either way. It is a full 24x36 inch sheet, scaled down to fit on here and in my portfolio book. As a homeowner with covenants it would be a good skill for you-or anyone-to have since you know the designs are rather pricey. They are worth it to do it right though. No covenants here at my place. Good thing or I'd be in violation a hundred times probably. I do pull plats and covenants but fortunately this client had her survey-no restrictions. Tennessee, at least here in our county is rather lax in standards, though I think that is a good thing and one main reason why we bought our little acre in the county. Freedom to do what we like. Hopefully it is a good thing for our neighbors. Sometimes we've had bad neighbors and wished for covenants. It can be a double edged sword I think. Thanks again.

  11. Great you have an opportunity to do this. It sounds exciting. I'll be especially interested in hearing your tips and tricks.

  12. I'm so happy for you Tina. This just adds to your wealth of knowledge. I will wait anxiously for more info. This is going to help me a lot as I have a very small space.
    Your draft looks great. Hope it goes well with school.

  13. Tina, I am so impressed! This is something I would love to learn, but I'm too cheap to take a class, not to mention finding the time for it. But looking around my large yard, this is exactly the area where I need help--designing a garden that complements the house and the rest of the landscape instead of just planting flowerbeds here and there. I'm looking forward to any tips you'll share with us!

    Off to Tai Chi, but I'll be back later to check out Matron's dogblog--I can relate to that one:)

  14. How exciting that you are designing landscapes, and I bet you are excellent at it! Beautiful design for your client that you pictured.

    You could use carbon paper to transfer your designs from tracing paper to vellum since you don't have a light table.

  15. Wow, wow, wow!!! That is a lot of work and since I know what you charged them, they sure got a deal and then some.

  16. BJ and CeeCee are famous on the blog! That was a cute blog for sure for this animal lover...

    You are awesome in your never ending adventures! I checked into your site a while back and forgot to mention to you that I like the new look. It’s great and so professional.

    I am so excited for you to take off in yet another direction in your life. I must say that all your adventures keep my head spinning as I cannot keep up with you girl.... :-)

    Happy Designing!

  17. I did guess correctly . I took a Landscape Architecture course one summer. I got a little frustrated with crits that told me to use black granite instead of water since it was easier for upkeep and reflected just as well – missing the point entirely!

    Your design welcomes the visitor naturally. You might want to watch plantings that are too close to the house foundations. Also a good idea to include windows so you can see the sight (or is it site?) lines.

    I’m sure you’ll be really good at this given your excellent understanding of gardening. The drawing is very clear. Well done!

  18. Great post. I finally started putting some of my plans on paper a couple of years ago with the urging of a friend. It is funny how different it looks on paper. Really helps you focus more on color and texture.

  19. This is great! How exciting that you are doing this. I could use some help with this sort of thing. I have zero landscape design skills. -Jackie

  20. Marnie, I'll do my best to share some things. Never a problem here:)

    Darla, Thanks!

    Rose, It is a good service for homeowners-a ready made package can be so helpful in many ways. Have fun at Tai Chi!

    Sweet Bay, Thanks! it was a lot of work. I am in the process of making a light table now-it will be well used. But thanks for the tip.

    Skeeter, Thanks! The dogs so did not want to cooperate for a pic but I got two. Wait until Friday and you'll see what they really do in the garden while I slave. Ha! When you come up I'll have to show you the design in person. So much neater.

    Sarah, Everyone has their own views on landscape design and architecture. I always play it safe and go with what my client wants and what will work. That is key in all designs. No need for critics when it all works and delivers. Thanks!

    Debbie, Hello and welcome! It does take a bit of work and adjustment to figure out drawings on paper but you know it is not so hard. A fun thing for sure. I enjoyed your landscape designs on Project 802 very much!

    Jackie, It is most fun and I'm enjoying it. Give it a try!

  21. What fun (and hard work). Judging from your plans and your own gardens that I have seen you will be very good at this.
    I only wish I could be a smidge as good. I just sort of visualize what I want but can't seem to get there so consequently my gardens look like I did them!
    Did I tell you the saying I printed on my business cards when I was an antique dealer because I loved it so much?
    When you find work you love you no longer have to work for a living!

  22. Tina, That is marvelous! All the details would get away from me! gail

  23. Good luck on the new venture. It looks like you have a real aptitude for it.
    Isn't vellum made from sheep?

  24. Wow, that is a nice landscape drawing you did! What fun learning how to do landscape designs professionally. Good luck with your new venture.

  25. Tina, your plan is beautiful! Nice work with the graphics, the plan reads really well. I must confess after I had been out of school for a while and was still hand drafting (I design on the computer now), I gradually abandoned most graphic techniques for circle templates, primarily to save time and streamline the process. No question a plan with a mix of symbol graphics and shadows is easier for the client to understand, as well as more beautiful.

    One program that helped me enormously when I was hand drafting was Plantmaster from Gardensoft. It saved me so much time because I could easily find the plants I wanted (just type in lav for example, and a whole slew of lavenders appears - I just click on the one I want to add to my plan). When your plan is done you can print out the legend and tape it to the vellum, plus it has great reports with photos you can create with the click of a button and give to clients. This has been a huge timesaver and ups the caliber of the presentation disproportionately to the amount of time spent. I think the program I use may be populated with plants specifically for the West, but I'm sure there are other versions if you look around.

    Sorry for the long comment but I think it's wonderful that you are rounding out your skills and believe it or not am holding back from giving you even more unsolicited advice!

  26. It looks great! I had no idea how much work went into putting one together. It seems like you'd need to be very detail oriented (which I'm not) to have what is on paper make sense. Good luck with your landscape design part of your business, I can't wait to see some pictures!

  27. Neat! I had a try at it for our original garden design, and it is really tough to do, and figure out scale and proportions... I wish you all the best in this venture, and hope to visit often to see the progress.

    I also played a bit with the Punch! Home Design Software which also included landscape design tools. You could add a number of different types of plants and trees, then "age" them to see how they looked over time, in 3D. Pretty fun, but I didn't do any real designs with it.

  28. way to go tina! one more thing under your cap. i wish you the best with all you are doing and learning. it will be so exciting to see your progress.
    happy fall.

  29. Oh Tina, this is wonderful! Your clients are the lucky ones to have you as their designer. The word will get out about your talents and the world will be at your doorstep! :-)

  30. Linda, Gardens designed by the gardener who loves them-us-are the best!

    Gail, It sure takes time and attention to detail. CONGRATS on your awards!

    MMD, I have no idea what vellum is made from. Hmmm. Makes one think. Thanks for good wishes.

    Dan, Thanks! It is most fun.

    Susan, I LOVE advice, hence the blog and talking. I like long comments even better so talk away! You are the best landscape designer out there I know and you are most busy so I will definitely listen to you. So many use the computer now and at some point I may dabble in Autocad, but for now hand drafting works. I have heard it said by engineers and architects alike that hand drafted presentations are so nice and artistic. I am glad because it is a nice art. And thanks for your nice compliment on my design. I did do the plant list on the computer-my one caveat. Much easier.

    Catherine, Pictures are on my agenda for sure. I have the before and will get after next year once it has had time to grow in. It will be really neat.

    Garden Lily, Scale and proportion are the hardest things to figure out. Next is measuring and making sure you have accurate site plans and putting it together. The designing is easy by comparison. But once figured out-easy peasy. I love it. Would sure love to have some of that fresh juice this morning too:)

    Marmee, Thanks! And a very happy fall to you too. It's been wonderful so far-though a bit sudden.

    Frances, CONGRATS to you on your awards! And thanks for the well wishes for landscape designing. It is most fun and ties in with what I do so well...come on world:)

  31. Mom, I totally forgot to respond to you. I am wondering how many more I have forgotten. I am thinking I might need to rethink my responding:) The clients are most happy and I am too. The only overhead I have is my time so just starting out it is fine. The practice was wonderful and they are such nice folks. Makes it all worth it. Have a great day all!

  32. Oh my goodness! Tina, you continue to surprise me every time I come over here. What a great job!

  33. Congrats on this new venture Tina. It's always exciting to enter a new arena. You're sure to be good at it and it must feel really rewarding to have happy clients. Good luck!!!
    PS I've used a software program to help with designing (for myself ~ no one else!) but it's been awhile since I've had it out. I'll have to take a look at it again. I don't think it was anywhere near as comprehensive as your detailed plan tho?

  34. Hi Tina, you are right in your element! Seems you've found your niche (or at least, one more!). It's nice of you to want to share these with others, considering people pay you to get this kind of thing! Tina, I voted for you for a Blot. award and was really hoping you'd get at least 1. It's really impossible to make a statement that someone has 'the best' blog...That just isn't true at all. There is no 'best'. There are 'many good ones' but no 'best' one. Anyway, you're still one of my favorites:) (And a lot of other people's, as well).

  35. Hi Tina - I've been reading a lot about happiness lately and one thing that is supposed to make people happy is learning new skills and continually challenging yourself. So you've got that covered! I would love to learn more about landscape design so I hope you'll post more about it.

  36. Sunita, Thanks!

    Kathleen, I've tried software but I find it difficult to use. I am sticking with this for now.

    Jan, Thank you very much for your kind comments. I do love designing and gardens so landscape design works so well. As for the awards, I am very grateful to at least have had this blog recognized for a few awards. It is the first time ever and was an honor in of itself. It is clear some folks voted for us and that is wonderful. Our readership is the best and we blog for fun so all is great. Thanks for your support.

    Jen, I hope to inspire some folks with it. Especially avid gardeners who've never dabbled in it. It is a logical thing to do and boy do I ever wish I had done it before I began my yard.

  37. Wow Tina - I'm impressed! I didn't realize hand-drawn landscape designs were still being taught. I guess I figured it was all computers these days. I'm happy to know this art is still being taught and practiced, and can see you've definitely got the talent for it. Kudos, and best wishes on this new adventure!

    Congratulations too on your Blotanical awards nominations. I feel that all the nominees are winners. It's quite an honor being nominated, especially with all the garden blogs out there now.

  38. Linda, Oh yes hand drafting is still being taught though it is going the way of the dinosaurs. It is a very good art for me. Thanks on the nominations and CONGRATS on your award! I so agree that even to be nominated is an honor. I was thrilled and still am. Tons of blogs but surprisingly enough not so many bloggers participated in the award process. I was a bit shocked at the low numbers of voters. Maybe next year there will be more. A good thing.

  39. Hi Tina. This may or may not be worthwhile to you, but this has me all excited thinking about it. Your comments about the erasing and measuring made me think of my own work designing web applications, which I thought it might be of some use. When I get to the fiddly part where I'm being precise, making changes takes a lot longer. In the early stages, where I'm exploring design ideas and moving things around, I use sticky notes + large piece of paper (I like the boards of sticky post it notes, which I can post up on the wall as I work). I start by capturing my brainstorming ideas, each thing on it's own sticky note. Maybe this is the trees/plants you know you want to use. Then I start moving them around fluidly to see what work and what doesn't. Instead of erasing or rearranging, I just toss out sticky notes and add new ones as I go. I also include some basic art supplies in my set - pens, scissors, glue stick, and I cobble together a design. Something about having the design be flexible and informal for a while helps my brain in early stages. At some point, I turn the corner, where I feel like I'm ready to translate my sketches over to the design program I work in, or in your case, the paper part. It's super simple but I really like working this way, it's much easier for me than when I tried to design everything from scratch on my computer. Anyway, the way you described erasing made me want to share that. Congratulations on your continued progress in your landscape design work. Very exciting that you're doing such fun work.

  40. Oh hey I forgot that I meant to send you a link to an example. It's not fancy at all, but I thought a picture might be worth a thousand words on what I tried to describe in my comment above.

  41. Oh, I forgot to say I love the photos of your dogs in the post about double digging. I am happy for you learning more about landscape design, and being able to use your skills with clients. Cool!

    Congratulations on your nominations for the blotanical awards. I voted for you more than once.