New Year Garden Planning

Updated: Jan 5

Happy 2021 Everyone!

First of all, we made it through 2020 and I'm so glad you are here! I am really looking forward to this year and have been busy planning our garden expansion and preparing landscaping plans for HOA approval. Although it sounds unnecessary for our neighborhood, it’s been a great way for me to collect my thoughts and organize all my crazy ideas into one master plan!

Our lot is on one acre and although it was considered "landscaped" when we bought it two years ago, the backyard is ~ 1/2 acre and fenced off for mostly our goats and chickens to roam. It's way more space than they need and we have always envisioned so much more for this space. I decided this summer, after growing dahlias, sweet peas, cosmos, and zinnia flowers in my raised beds, that I wanted to expand our growing space to as much area as we could manage for cut flowers.

I didn't know where to start and even thought about hiring a landscape architect to at least help me draw up some plans. I have been practicing Interior Design for over 15 years and although the two creative professions may seem to overlap, I was overwhelmed. All I had was a Pinterest board chocked-full of gorgeous landscaped vistas and planning ideas. But where would I begin? I wasn't a landscape architect!

If I'm being honest, I am an over-planner. I love a good Xcel spreadsheet and Powerpoint is my go-to tool for most anything to help me organize photos and create mood boards. But sometimes my over-planning mindset gets in the way of just going for it. I felt like I didn't have the right pieces to start the puzzle. Luckily, I had a really good friend recommend I talk to her landscape architect, who was so kind and helpful.

The first step, find your plat plan. A plat plan is a map of your lot that dimensions your property lines, shows a footprint of your home on your lot, and (in my case) also showed where my leach field was located. This was really the main reason I went searching for this map as I was vaguely aware that I needed to avoid planting or building structures on top of the leach field area. Once I had the map, I got to work on translating these dimensions into my CAD program. Now, I researched a lot of options on landscaping CAD software as I really wanted to find something that had a list of trees, shrubs, and other landscape plants that might save me time on researching options on my own. I could lay out the plan and then use their library to drop in plants with ease! But you know what, researching plants for your specific hardiness zone is really important and trumps just placing pre-loaded options from an out-of-the-box software program. I ultimately decided to just use my AutoCAD Revit software that I use for interior design work, and get down to business!

Once I had my plan in CAD, it was so much easier to play with shapes, pathways, and structures. I could now really understand how much space I had to work with and I was really surprised what all I could fit within the space!

To help direct my layout, I started by selecting my favorite saved images of dreamy landscapes that I have curated over the years. Many are images I still love from years ago with a European timeless aesthetic. I then made a mood board which helps to illustrate common threads of plant types, color story, and the overall look and feel.

I then uploaded my favorite images to a free online color palette creator. This helped narrow my focus on what flower varieties I would grow - there are WAY too many choices!

So now, I have a Master Landscape Plan in place that we can complete in phases as we have the time and/or money to do the work. Phase one will be the eight 25' x 4' flower beds...which pops the top on a whole new can of worms! I'll share more soon on how I have already started choosing flower varieties and how I am organizing what will be grown in each bed! I'd love to hear what you are planning for this year. Let me know in the comments below!

- Ashley