Do It Yourself Landscape Design

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This article will help you design your landscape yourself.
by Brian Wilson · All Zones · Design · 2 Comments · August 31, 2010 · 60,494 views

A well-planned landscape can tremendously benefit the lives of those who dwell among it.** Landscape Design

An Introduction to Landscape Design

Just about anyone knows a great looking landscape when they see one. Take a drive through any neighborhood and it's easy to spot the landscape that should receive the 'Yard of the Month Award', every month! Chances are, a professional landscape designer designed it, or someone who has the working knowledge of art elements and design principles.

If you know very little about landscape design, and are trying to decide whether or not to design it yourself, the overview below may help you to determine whether or not you want to tackle the job. At least we hope so.

Steps in Developing a Landscape Design

The benefits of an organized system in developing a landscape design are tremendous. Some research and a little good advice from a professional can go a long way towards achieving satisfying results. As with most endeavors, the level of efficiency relative to time input is greatly increased with an organized and more educated approach. The game plan for the landscape designer should follow a sequence such as the one presented here:

Steps In Design

  • Develop a plot plan
  • Conduct a site analysis
  • Assess family needs and desires
  • Locate activity areas
  • Design activity areas
  • Plant selection and placement

Develop a Plot Plan

It's difficult to visualize certain aspects of a landscape design without putting it to scale on paper. The designer should think with drawings or sketches and make the mistakes on paper and not on the landscape site.

Whether designing a foundation plan or a full lot plan, you'll need to start by drawing a "plot plan". The plot plan should consist of:

  • Accurate size, dimensions and position of home and other major structures on the lot, including property lines
  • Accurate location, dimension and elevation of doors and windows
  • Existing and future planned driveways, walks, pools, ponds, play areas, outdoor living areas and other fixed structures or features

NOTE: It saves a lot of time if you can obtain an accurate plat of the house and property along with a house floor plan that shows outside dimensions. These plans may be secured from the builder, developer or county or city property records. Although the floor plan scale will probably be different from the scale you use, it will still be easier to convert the scale than to physically measure the house, lot, etc. In the absence of a plat, get the measuring tape out.

Once the position of the home on the lot has been determined, this should be drawn to a predetermined scale on paper. The most common scales used are 1" = 5' or 1" = 10', but you may choose another scale based upon your drawing equipment, size of paper and project dimensions.

Drawing Supplies You'll Need

  • Drafting pencils
  • Drafting paper
  • T-square
  • Scaled rulers
  • Triangle tool (right angle tool)
  • Art gum eraser
  • Landscape design template with circles and/or plant and tree shapes. Available at most office supply stores.
  • The designer must have a firm, steady working surface

Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Informative Article-Some may not have the knowledge or time to landscape on their own. Reading this article will help them to know what to think about and acquire in order to help the professional landscaper produce not only a beautiful but more useful property for them. Acquiring a plot plan, home floor plan, and property line locations can not only help the professional develop an accurate plot plan, but do it in a more timely manner not having to search for these items. Hopefully this article will help some realize the more their needs, desires, likes, and dislikes are noted with the professional designer the more perfect their expectations will be met. They should never be hesitant to bring up something they feel insignificant. It may be very significant to the designer. A good professional landscaper wants to know, no matter how small, everything that will make your landscaping one you will enjoy for many years. Reading this article makes me want to start changing a few things in my yard and experiment with my lighting to make a more interesting garden at night. Thanks for shedding some light on a few areas of my landscaping that can be made to look more professional.

11 years ago ·
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Mark Beeninga

Mark Beeninga · Gardenality Sprout · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
To get a plot plan for your house and land, check online for the county tax assessors office. In Georgia many of the counties are using a similar software that provides rough dimensions for the walls of your home with decks, porches, garages and room additions penciled in with dimensions. Google "[county you live in] tax assessors office". It will allow you look at properties by owner's name or property address. You can reproduce the dimensions to graph paper or use "Google Sketchup" if you are a digiteratti (its free to use and is manageable for a simple drawing with a short time investment with the tutorials).

10 years ago ·
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