Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garden Design 1

Between the years 1994 - 2001, I used to run a hobby business that I called Astrid's Garden Design. Local landscape contractors would contact me about doing a design for clients who wanted their front or backyard landscaped. I would plan out the overall design and suggest planting material, and then the contractor would install it.

I combined my love of drawing with horticultural knowledge and had a grand time designing gardens!
Let me show you one of my projects from the year 2000 and I'll explain what I did and why.

This customer had a brand new house that had a blank palette front yard and backyard - there was nothing there but grass. He and his wife wanted a large patio off the back kitchen sliding doors where they could sit and entertain. They also requested relatively low maintenance plants because they were new to gardening and often away a lot in the summer.

Here is what I designed for them. I apologize for the lack of focus especially with the print and names on the first diagram but I wanted you to be able to see the overall design and how I tried to create a flow using curved lines. I will blow up a portion of the design to discuss it - then you should be able to see the plant names more clearly.

The residence is the large blank in the middle. I tried to balance the backyard by making the patio a large curve, whose shape was echoed in the large sugar maple on the other side of the yard. Both circular shapes were balanced by a large evergreen in the opposite corner.
Shrubs, perennials and vines filled the space across the back fence as well as small pond in the upper right corner. The backyard faced north so I chose the plants that could tolerate shade - hostas, daylilies, and hydrangeas.

Viburnum opulus (Cranberry bush)  tolerates sunny or shady conditions

Daylilies and Hostas are good in partial shade

I always tried to mix trees and shrubs in with perennials to add structure. (I'm using my yard as an example - I rarely got to see the finished product of what I had designed).

I liked to add boulders and rocks to a border as well, but remember - do it only in proportion to the whole picture. Don't add too many or they look unnatural and lose their focal impact.

My Dad's garden is a great example of how curved garden beds enhance a square yard.

And evergreens in a corner add a strong sense of stability as well as year round colour and structure

Please visit my recipe blog : the latest post is Warm Fennel Salad with Olives, Pine nuts and Orange.


Nadezda said...

Astrd, beautiful design!
I liked that the hostas and maple are planted in the shade place.
Your father has beautiful garden too, his fir (or blue spruce) looks beautifully with ground cover flowers.

Astrid said...

Hi Nadezda
Thank you! Designing was fun but it amazes me that I had that much energy - to work full time all day and then go measure peoples' yards in the evenings. And to draw the plans on the weekends!

Jennifer said...

What fun this work must have been. It must have been tough however to work all day, measure at night and work on weekends.At least the work was seasonal.
I like the design plan that you came up with and the plants selected.Do you still do any of this work or are you fully retired?

Nadezda said...

Astrid, now we are retired and can do all we want, in ours own gardens, only for us!

Astrid said...

Hi Jennifer
It was fun! I liked meeting the customers as much as I liked the design planning.
And now I am fully retired - done my 35 year career at the Library and done the hobby business of design work.
Now I have lots of time to take care of my own garden, write this blog and take photos. Love love love it!

Patty said...

I love the informal curved bed. My problem is keeping the edge sharp which enhances its appeal.

HELENE said...

Astrid, you had my dream job:-)
Only shame you didn't get your clients to send you photos of their gardens after 2, 5 and 10 years, perhaps you should have had that included in the contract, I am sure you would have loved to see all those gardens now :-)

I am planning no less than 3 gardens at the moment, all from scratch, for people I know, all just as a favour - in my situation I always have a lot of favours to give back, I love it when I am able to give back with something gardening related, even if it is just giving a plant or a cutting. But now I actually get to design several gardens, they are sending me measurements and lots of photos since I can’t go there, and I am making drawings and plant suggestions, it works fine :-)
Hope you have a beautiful gardening week-end, take care, Helene.

Astrid said...

Hi Patty
I still edge the old fashioned way - with one of those half moon shaped shovels. But I learned a lesson last year: I edged in April, thinking I'd get a big job out of the way, and by early July, all the edges were sloppy again. Overgrown.
I think I'll edge right before I mulch - in June - then it will last the season.

Hi Helene
So we are of similar designing minds! I found I got very physically tired measuring yards and driving to peoples' properties so I think you are doing it the smart way :) Have fun planning your friends' gardens - that's the part I really enjoyed.

debsgarden said...

It must have been great fun to design gardens for others! It would be interesting to see what those gardens look like now; how they stood the test of time and their owner's gardening talents or lack there-of.

Astrid said...

Hi Deb
It would have been great to see all the finished designs. I did see some and mostly they looked pretty good. Some had plants that had outgrown their designated space. Other folks had decided against landscaping altogether. But all in all - it was fun having a business that I enjoyed doing.

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