Miss M is fast asleep, which means it's time to spend a little time updating the blog. Although the final episode of Downton Abbey is still sitting un-watched in our DVR, this is my priority.
If you missed my article a few weeks ago in Visalia Times-Delta on how to start a design for your landscape, I wanted to give you a recap. There is just a few days left, and a few spots open to join our Design Charrette Workshop on April 2. I will share tips and tricks, and get you started on designing your landscape project. Designing with Mediterranean twist is my specialty, and I will show you how to get that onto paper for your new yard.
Creating a design is the most important step in any project. In a world of Pinterest posts and DIY blogs, the longing of California living is snapped at the right angle with the right décor; superimposed in your mind and onto your lackluster back yard. “I want a cozy outdoor seating area filled with bistro lights, tiki torches and throw pillows.” Optimism and a can-do attitude launch you to your nearest lumber-nursery-electrical-paint-fix all store with ideas pinned at your fingertips. Where to begin? The frustration ensues here.
We have all been there. A lot of hand motioning between husbands and wives. Approximating the dimensions of a space, where they want the trees and paths. This is typically the time wives pulls out their phone to remind the husband of the look they are going for. Trying to zoom in on the picture to see what plants are blurred out in the background. “It has purple flowers. Look this plant has purple flowers, it will work.” The shiny pictures online do a great job selling you on the idea, but do not detail the reality of how to get there.
How about we start with a plan. You wouldn’t throw an important dinner party without a thorough menu and grocery list. Why start a rather intensive DIY project without first making a plan? I think it’s because people do not know how to plan out their projects. It sounds intensive and many may feel like it takes the creativity and spontaneity out of the endeavor. To help this important aspect along when people come to our nursery we find ourselves sketching out the space as we are talking to them. Rough, nothing fancy, but it gets us all on the same page. As the ideas begin to form on paper I can see their excitement growing for the prospect of their new space. Helping people get started is what comes easy for us, and takes a burden off of them. I understand hiring a designer can feel daunting and intimidating. That is why we are starting new series of workshops called Design Charrettes. They are perfect for people who have the ambition and general creative direction, but do not know where to start or how to get the ideas on paper. Our first charrette is April 2, I hope it will be an exciting and educational project for everyone who comes. If your schedule does not allow you to attend the upcoming workshop follow these steps to get your ideas off of your phone, out of your head, and onto paper.
Step 1: Measure
You need to create a “base plan.” This is a 2D diagram of your property denoting all major hardscape components. Get a measuring tape or wheel and get the dimensions of your property lines, perimeter of your house, sidewalk, driveway and existing tree locations. I like to make a rough sketch of the space on a blank piece of paper first, then fill in the dimensions. After I have everything measured out I redraw the space to scale.
When you draw a space to scale you have a measurable unit in place for every inch. For example 1”=4’ is a ¼” scale; 1”=8’ is a 1/8” scale. That way you can use a ruler and measure any part of the drawing and have an easy reference point when you are installing the project and ordering material like bark and compost.
For people attending our workshop we will already have a base plan prepared for you, drawn off of a recent satellite image.
Step 2: Pictures
Take lots of pictures. This is the most important step in the project. If you show up at our nursery in need of help selecting plant material you can flip through your pictures and we will be able to give you good suggestions for that space as well as approximate quantities.
Make sure you snap a lot of pictures at different angles, showing viewpoints and existing elements.
Step 3: Decide on a style
Many of you will know what style you want before you start the project. Come to an agreement on what you want to achieve and why you like a particular look. If you like Mediterranean design styles make a list of what that means to you. For example, your list may include: stone, warm colors, gray foliage, olive tree, gravel and water features. Based off of that list you can deduce what is important for you to incorporate.
Step 4: Pick a plant pallet
This can get a little overwhelming. There are so many plants out there and let’s face it, nurseries set out what is blooming and looks good at that moment. It becomes difficult to be selective when you want one of everything that is blooming. Select 2-3 trees; 6-8 shrubs; and 3-4 ground covers. Print out pictures, look at them in person, write out their maximum height and spread and make notes on the pictures (bloom time, deciduous vs evergreen, water usage, sun exposure). Try to weed out at least one plant in every category from your initial selection to create a core plant pallet list.
Step 5: Start drawing!
I like to use trace paper on top of my base plan to sketch out different ideas. Using a ruler and circle template (these will be provided in the workshop) draw in your plants at maturity. Creating a symbol to denote each species you can begin to layout plants based on color, texture, form and seasonal interest. This is a very forgiving process and with a little coaching you can create a planting plan that you will be proud of.
I hope you can join me for our first Design Charrette class on April 2 at 10am! RSVP quickly before it's closed. If you can't make it get your space on paper and then head into our store for some guidance and inspiration!