Author Topic: resources for garden planning  (Read 1943 times)

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
resources for garden planning
« on: August 27, 2019, 07:28:18 AM »
So we want to transform our smallish yard into a garden, but I need help taking the scattered list of things in our brains that we'd like and transforming that into a workable plan.

Anyone have resources (books, software, etc) that they've found particularly useful as resources for making a plan?

Currently it's just a square grass lawn with a slight slope, which formerly had an above-ground swimming pool. There's lots of sun and it seems to drain well.

We know we want to rip out >50% of the grass lawn, put in several raised beds for growing veggies and herbs, have lots of flowering foliage with a stone path, and a small outdoor seating area.  I can (and have) made all these components before, but right now there's no cohesiveness.

This would all be DIY, with a modest annual budget, and would develop over years rather than all at once. We are in zone 6.

FWIW we feel much like most of the people featured in Big Dreams, Small Spaces - we've got ideas and the will, but absolutely no idea how to put them all together in a way that makes the sum more than just a collection of random parts.

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3619
  • Location: WDC
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2019, 08:47:31 AM »
try iScape.  Free.  If you don't like it, no loss.

Take a photo of your space, then use iScape's plant, bush, and landscape imagery to see how different items would look.  I don't think it has features to help you know what will grow well, so you'd have to research that elsewhere.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2019, 08:52:58 AM »
try iScape.  Free.  If you don't like it, no loss.

Take a photo of your space, then use iScape's plant, bush, and landscape imagery to see how different items would look.  I don't think it has features to help you know what will grow well, so you'd have to research that elsewhere.

Thanks, I"ll give that a try. Might help with the visualization aspect, though I'd still need to come up with the design myself (though could do a bunch of trial-and-error)

lookingforadelorean

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2019, 09:44:31 AM »
I'm so excited to follow along with this thread! We have been having the exact same discussion. We have 1/3 of an acre that is is beautiful, but A LOT of work to maintain. We're feeling like, if we have to do a bunch of yard work anyway, why not switch out the flowers for edibles? I also picture a yard of rock paths and container plantings.

Our conservation district (zone 8) offers Lawns to Lettuce advice, and we've been told they will come to the house and work with us on how best to utilize our space. Have you looked into anything like that locally?

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2019, 09:49:19 AM »

Our conservation district (zone 8) offers Lawns to Lettuce advice, and we've been told they will come to the house and work with us on how best to utilize our space. Have you looked into anything like that locally?

I haven't found anything like that locally.  I'm certain there are consultants we could pay, but I'm not ready to go with an expensive 'garden architect' just now.

lookingforadelorean

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2019, 10:01:12 AM »
I haven't found anything like that locally.  I'm certain there are consultants we could pay, but I'm not ready to go with an expensive 'garden architect' just now.

I wouldn't pay for that either. I'll let you know if I come across anything particularly helpful!

max924

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2019, 10:44:56 AM »
Get 'A Pattern Language' by Christopher Alexander from your local library! It discusses outdoor spaces, and different methods of using them and making them 'comfortable'. You would learn from that book what most landscape architects probably would propose to you. Outdoor spaces is just a small part of the book but I highly recommend.

robartsd

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3347
  • Location: Sacramento, CA
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2019, 10:54:48 AM »
Don't have the space constraints (our lot is about 50' x 250'), but also looking for design aids. iScape looks nice, but we're an Android household.

Our house is a cute brick bungalow about 1000 sf built in 1924, but our lot is mostly a mess of weeds. Our lot faces south with the ~1000 sf house set back ~15' from the front of the lot. A one lane driveway passes the house on the west (with mature trees next to the west property line) to a detached one car garage (used for outdoor storage, not car) behind. Behind the garage there is a plum tree, then two fig trees. Next to the garage is a date palm near the center of the lot (no fruit, just a mess of droppings). Behind the palm is a raised bed created from the rounds of a palm that was cut down (stump next to existing palm near east fence. Another fig grows behind the raised bed near the east fence. beyond the raised bed is a thicket of blackberry vines that I'm, then another stone fruit tree (fruit like a cross between plum and cherry, matures later than both). The back 100' of the property is a weedy field with a few small trees along the fence lines. The east side of the house is challenged with poor drainage, Chinese Sumac, non-climbing vines, and other plants that need to be removed (I'm starting year three on the battle against the Sumac).

Although our lot is zoned 20 units/acre, fire access limits inhabited buildings to the front half of the lot, so the back 125' will be devoted to garden. Long term idea is to replace the garage with a shed (for garden) near the back of the property and a side loaded garage (for car, bikes, workshop) behind the house on the east side of the lot (possibly with 600-800 sf apartment above). The driveway to the garage would also serve as a patio (potentially with outdoor kitchen facilities along the west property line). Between the new garage and the house would be the only area I'd maintain a lawn.

When we bought the property, the front yard had some bark mulch, but it proved to be too thin a layer by the first spring. Fortunately Rock the Block is coming this fall and will do a proper job mulching which should make maintaining a better street appearance much easier. I'll continue to battle the unwanted vegetation on the east side of the house, then try to figure out a solution for drainage. Once that is done, we can start working on making the back of the lot what we want. I think it might be best to work from the furthest point towards the house, so that we don't need to disturb completed work.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2019, 11:09:45 AM »
Found this - useful discription on how to create detailed landscaping plans over the course of several steps.

https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2701e/

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18149
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2019, 11:12:28 AM »
I'm a big fan of square foot gardening.  That book has helped us get a pretty substantial yield of edible food from a smallish plot of land.  Plenty of god advice in it.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2019, 11:17:15 AM »
I'm a big fan of square foot gardening.  That book has helped us get a pretty substantial yield of edible food from a smallish plot of land.  Plenty of god advice in it.

how much advice about god do you need to garden?
:-P

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18149
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 11:31:12 AM »
How are you going to get your plants to grow if Thor doesn't bring the rain and Ra doesn't provide the sun?

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2019, 11:34:20 AM »
How are you going to get your plants to grow if Thor doesn't bring the rain and Ra doesn't provide the sun?
Smurfs.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18149
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2019, 11:37:53 AM »
I've never trusted those blue commies.  All rallying around their red leader.  And sharing the same woman.  Ugh.

big_owl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 924
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2019, 12:58:01 PM »
I also used square foot gardening to get started on my raised beds a few years ago.  It's one of those books where you're like duh, why didn't I just think of that? 

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2019, 01:06:40 PM »
Definitely will check out Square Foot Gardening - though when I say 'Garden' I  suppose i'm using it more in the British sense (i.e. what's commonly called a 'yard' in the US is referred to as the 'garden' in the UK). 
I will certainly include several raised beds for veggies and herb boxes closer to the house, but here the 'garden' will include most of the grassy lawn that I will rip up and replace with perennials, flowers, a path, a small seating area etc.

max924

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2019, 01:48:09 PM »
Another book recommendation... 'Outside the Not so Big House : Creating the Landscape of Home' by Julie Moir Messervy and Sarah Susanka

WhiteTrashCash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1881
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2019, 01:59:52 PM »
Check your library and see if they carry any of the video series from The Great Courses. I took the course on "How To Grow Anything: Food Gardening for Everyone" taught by Professor Melinda Myers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and it was very helpful in making my garden successful this season.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2019, 02:02:35 PM »
Another book recommendation... 'Outside the Not so Big House : Creating the Landscape of Home' by Julie Moir Messervy and Sarah Susanka

huh.  I've read (many, many times) Susanka's Not So Big House books, but somehow missed that she had put on out on exterior spaces.  Defintiely will try to get this at my library.

Check your library and see if they carry any of the video series from The Great Courses. I took the course on "How To Grow Anything: Food Gardening for Everyone" taught by Professor Melinda Myers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and it was very helpful in making my garden successful this season.
Thanks, but as I said above this is less about growing food than designing the entire garden.  The food-bearing portion (i.e. the veggie garden or kitchen garden) will be a very small component.

Rosy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2450
  • Location: Florida
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2019, 03:48:19 PM »
You are on the right track, you absolutely need a plan before you begin. A small garden requires a good plan for cohesiveness, functionality and beauty.
I have two words for you: JOHN BROOKES author, master gardener, landscape designer extraordinaire.
He is a legend.

Thanks to you I googled his name and voila, new and used books and three youtube garden design classes by John Brookes.
https://www.google.com/search?q=john+brookes+garden+design+book&oq=John+Brookes&aqs=chrome.2.0l6.24759j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

While I already have a big, established garden with several flowing garden rooms that are both functional and beautiful, I plan on one last re-design for our small/regular sized backyard only.

BOOKS - DAVID STEVENS - several great books on garden design. I designed my garden based on one of his books called Backyard Blueprints, best book ever:) because he discusses why it works and doesn't just give you a pretty picture. This particular book also includes DIY projects. 
https://www.google.com/search?q=david+stevens+garden+books&oq=David+Stevens+garden+boo&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j33l2.15909j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

It was a David Stevens book that helped me create a long term plan that has worked well for twenty years - one area at a time.
That was a long time ago, but all I needed to do is remember my frame of reference as our garden changed and grew more beautiful from year to year.

Here are two more suggestions:
BOOK - Roses love Garlic - a book about companion planting, get it used from amazon. Nice to have for square foot gardening too.
WEBSITE -  https://www.gardenia.net/gardens/hardiness-zones - buy plants, get solid info incl hardiness zone and design ideas. Haven't tried all their tools, but it is a great resource.

DIY - I have a great how-to somewhere on how to build an awesome arbor with copper piping...
Conran has some awesome how to's for gardening projects - https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-conran-octopus-garden-book_david-----stevens/1711337/?mkwid=sURE13OvE%7cdc&pcrid=70112893392&pkw=&pmt=&plc=&pgrid=21326766312&ptaid=aud-465071891182%3apla-292433097256&gclid=CjwKCAjwqZPrBRBnEiwAmNJsNmROBuZr5PkPR1zxsraxmxllyJ1fxjBMtaOJCDMlztRsUHlHFySNuhoCRLYQAvD_BwE#isbn=1840911204&idiq=2201172
I have that particular hardcover book, if it looks like it would be of interest to you, I'll be happy to send it to you for free if you like.
My serious DIY days are over:)


RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 15509
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2019, 05:59:05 PM »
And while you absorbing all that info, start learning your new place. Where is true north? Where does the sun rise and set at different times of year? Where does water collect after rain?  That is a low spot, probably compacted soil or more clay in the soil. What soil type(s) do you have?  Where does the snow get blown away and where does it pile up? Where do the winds mainly come from? What directions do storms come from?  Where are your sunny spots and your shady spots? And is the shade from buildings or trees?

General wisdom is you need a year in a new place before you start major changes.  Otherwise you may end up fighting your site instead of working with it.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2019, 06:16:09 PM »
And while you absorbing all that info, start learning your new place. Where is true north? Where does the sun rise and set at different times of year? Where does water collect after rain?  That is a low spot, probably compacted soil or more clay in the soil. What soil type(s) do you have?  Where does the snow get blown away and where does it pile up? Where do the winds mainly come from? What directions do storms come from?  Where are your sunny spots and your shady spots? And is the shade from buildings or trees?

General wisdom is you need a year in a new place before you start major changes.  Otherwise you may end up fighting your site instead of working with it.

Thanks for the advice.  As you suggested, I want to spend the next few months learning, observing, planning, testing, revising. I doubt we will do anything more than survey and put some stakes in teh ground before the cold weather sets in, and no true earth-moving will happen until it thaws in the spring.

Definitely want to work with what we have, rather than fighting our site.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 15509
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2019, 07:50:31 PM »
And while you absorbing all that info, start learning your new place. Where is true north? Where does the sun rise and set at different times of year? Where does water collect after rain?  That is a low spot, probably compacted soil or more clay in the soil. What soil type(s) do you have?  Where does the snow get blown away and where does it pile up? Where do the winds mainly come from? What directions do storms come from?  Where are your sunny spots and your shady spots? And is the shade from buildings or trees?

General wisdom is you need a year in a new place before you start major changes.  Otherwise you may end up fighting your site instead of working with it.

Thanks for the advice.  As you suggested, I want to spend the next few months learning, observing, planning, testing, revising. I doubt we will do anything more than survey and put some stakes in teh ground before the cold weather sets in, and no true earth-moving will happen until it thaws in the spring.

Definitely want to work with what we have, rather than fighting our site.

And of course any spring bulbs have long since gone dormant, so you may have some nice surprises in the spring.   😊

Also, figure out vegetable garden desires now.  There are lots of ornamentals that do well in shade, but most vegetables will want your sunniest well drained best soil spots.   Life is a lot easier if you don't put ornamentals or hard scape there and have to rip it all out a year or two later. And re shade, trees grow.

Roots&Wings

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1406
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2019, 06:34:20 AM »
Another book recommendation... 'Outside the Not so Big House : Creating the Landscape of Home' by Julie Moir Messervy and Sarah Susanka

huh.  I've read (many, many times) Susanka's Not So Big House books, but somehow missed that she had put on out on exterior spaces.  Defintiely will try to get this at my library.

Same! Thanks for mentioning this and "A Pattern Language" (dug it out last night, several good reminders).

Also found "Big Dreams, Small Spaces" helpful for inspiration and "Love Your Garden", as well as visiting beautiful gardens. One of the most stunning garden transformations I've ever seen is Dennis Hundscheidt's 1/4 acre garden in Australia (https://youtu.be/2stlC1pOZzE?t=191), which features several basic design principles for outdoor rooms, paths, creating privacy, etc.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14781
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2019, 07:29:20 AM »
yes (to several that have mentioned it) - I mentioned Big Dreams Small Spaces in my OP as one of our guiding inspirations. I don't know what it is exactly but I just love watching Monty Don. I think it's his combination of optimism, practicality and can-do spirit that melds well with our mustachian tendencies.

Rosy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2450
  • Location: Florida
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2019, 07:46:51 AM »
Monty is great.

Roots and Wings - loved that garden video, thanks. My "Secret Garden" looks a bit like that.

calimom

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1195
  • Location: Northern California
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2019, 08:41:32 PM »
One piece of free advice I have is to walk your neighborhood and see what plants do best there. Talk to your neighbors - everyone love to talk about their gardens. They will likely show you their backyards. You may well have certain opinions about design and what you want, but it's a good place to start.

Roots&Wings

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1406
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2019, 06:54:16 AM »
Monty is great.

Roots and Wings - loved that garden video, thanks. My "Secret Garden" looks a bit like that.

And I requested those John Brookes and David Stevens books at the library! Love seeing all these resources and ideas.

Morag Gamble's permaculture garden is another really fun one (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-bU0T-JKZ3kVpO77Nt1hMA), with more integrated foodscaping into the overall landscape design.

As for design tools, even experts vary in how they do this (from formal plans to field layout with stakes/hoses, etc). For DIY, it's often more a matter of understanding basic design principles and finding some inspiration ideas that can be implemented well in your own yard.

Rosy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2450
  • Location: Florida
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2019, 12:29:05 PM »
Quote
As for design tools, even experts vary in how they do this (from formal plans to field layout with stakes/hoses, etc). For DIY, it's often more a matter of understanding basic design principles and finding some inspiration ideas that can be implemented well in your own yard.

Agreed, I have a design background so I started with the survey plan of the property then simply overlaid it with see-thru drawing paper.
That way it is accurate and to scale. You can take it with you when you go shopping for materials or talk to a contractor. You can tell right away that it takes at least three 8-ft wide and 12-ft tall, dense, deep evergreen jasmine trees to block the neighbor's view.

Bonus points for said jasmine trees blooming profusely all year long especially when it rains:) and scenting the air. The study is close enough the jasmine scent can be enjoyed when the window is open.
Dense and evergreen are vital if you live in Florida where we dine al fresco at Christmas in 80-degree weather and have noisy, interfering neighbors.

My garden has five distinct garden areas/rooms that are interconnected but are not visible unless you take a walk in the garden.

1. Party Central with a gazebo and a large, loudly splashing fountain shaded by an old oak tree - complete with outdoor lighting and speakers.
You can only reach it (or so it seems) via an arched walkway cut into a tall evergreen hedge.
 
2. Secret Garden, well hidden for privacy, with a bright color whimsical small shed, obscure, recycled unique ornaments, a plant hospital and display area for all my favorite shade lovers like gigantic white peace lilies, tropical pink anthurium, stunning iron cross begonias and lots of airplane plants.
An arch with a sparkly moon and stars curtain leads to a cave-like spot beneath the golden rain tree behind a curtain of purple Bougainvillea.

3. A natural area with a woodland park feeling where the leaves are never raked, the squirrels roam, the birds splash in their Celtic birdbath.
A powder puff tree, tropical cherry bushes, hot pink and white azaleas encircle an artisan-crafted cedar bench/rocker while native ferns have taken over as a good looking evergreen, no maintenance ground cover.

4. My pride and joy - a potager inspired herb/veggie/flower garden that took fifteen years to look like a magazine cover - one project at a time.
Enclosed by a low brick border with a substantial deep white entrance arch, gravel paths, a focal point urn, a vignette comprised of a chair/table, arch, small fountain, and a potting area partially hidden behind an evergreen, dwarf red puffball tree.

5. Backyard - roughly 30 ft deep 40 ft wide - starting over from scratch - so bring on the design inspirations:).

I am not counting the front yard, the two side yards or the back forty near the ditch.

Roots and Wings if you do veggie gardening you might like this youtube video on building a $30-35 large arch trellis from a cattle panel and a T pole. Looks easy enough to DIY. I came across it while I got lost in youtubeland thanks to your suggestion:).
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXOX1nzCnaQ

Rosy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2450
  • Location: Florida
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2019, 12:50:11 PM »
Quote
Morag Gamble's permaculture garden is another really fun one (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-bU0T-JKZ3kVpO77Nt1hMA), with more integrated foodscaping into the overall landscape design.

Thx again - great videos, I'll work my way through them. She just happened to have what I was looking for, "how to grow and store Tumeric".
I never knew that Tumeric had such lovely flowers.

An Asian Naturopath friend of mine highly recommended black Tumeric for medicinal use over the yellow for inflammation so I've been on the hunt.
FWIW Found one other good video on growing Tumeric. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLuxsqka2JA


Roots&Wings

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1406
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2019, 02:43:17 PM »
^ Indeed, turmeric is gorgeous! Just started growing it a couple weeks ago, so can't report much, except that it's establishing well and blooming beautifully :) Here's further confirmation that it does quite well in Florida: https://youtu.be/wP8Nfw7Mly0?t=25

Your garden sounds absolutely lovely @Rosy!

p.s. I have no idea how you knew about the trellis, I've been looking for a good DIY design (had been thinking rebar, but that cattle panel would be much easier to work with, thanks! My garden is blend of food and flowers, with gentle curves and a peaceful "zen" feeling. As with all gardens, it's always a work in progress!

robartsd

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3347
  • Location: Sacramento, CA
Re: resources for garden planning
« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2019, 09:15:48 AM »
Roots and Wings if you do veggie gardening you might like this youtube video on building a $30-35 large arch trellis from a cattle panel and a T pole. Looks easy enough to DIY. I came across it while I got lost in youtubeland thanks to your suggestion:).
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXOX1nzCnaQ
My sister recently suggested that type of thing for my mom's yard.

MIGardener with the same basic idea:
https://youtu.be/xK2J99jwOIk

I think I'd prefer two tee posts per side like MIGardener does for more stability, but I like that Root's and Refuge Farm leaves space for planting on the inside of the arch.