Landscape Design: Day #17

Forget everything you know, or think you know, about landscape design.

I’m going to make it incredibly simple, as only a simple and lazy soul can.



Conceptual design helps free you from the tyranny* of plant selection.

* This is the kind of word that never looks like it’s spelled correctly. Above, however, is the correct dictionary spelling.

Lessons Learned

  • Focus on the goals; put your concepts on paper. Worry about the plants last.
  • Get a map of the area you want to design. If it’s your entire property, start with a plat map (you got one with your mortgage).
  • Put in the things you want to stay, like the air conditioning unit, patio, 75-year-old maple tree your grandmother planted. Include sidewalks, driveways, etc.
  • Don’t worry about the plants. I’ll tell you when to think about the plants.
  • Draw up a list of priorities. You plan to keep the A/C unit but hate looking at it. Every square inch of your property is covered by trees, and you don’t plan to cut them down. Wanting to plant a monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is not a priority. Don’t worry about the plants. I’ll tell you when.
  • How do you want to use the area? Soccer field? Vegetable garden. Swimming pool. Nice place to look at while you sip a cold beverage on a hot day. (That last one should be on any list of priorities. Otherwise, why freakin’ bother?)
  • Make a separate list of what you DON’T WANT. Like having to mow your lawn twice a week in April and May. (This is a legitimate priority.) Or looking at your shirtless 250-pound neighbor with a farmer tan mowing his lawn twice a week in April and May.
  • Take your lists and your map and a pencil (pen if that’s how you do crossword puzzles) and start putting your priorities on the map. Don’t worry about the frickin’ plants. This is a conceptual design.
    • For instance, if you want to watch your neighbor’s 20-something girlfriend mow the lawn in her bikini twice a week in April and May but the family maple tree blocks your view, put an “X” through the tree. That means it’s going down.
    • Or you want something fairly low and airy to block the view of the A/C unit.
    • Those are concepts. You can find help from the University of Florida here and here.
  • NOW make lists of plants that meet your priorities and concepts using your knowledge, or failing that, your acquaintance with Mr. Google. For instance, I searched for “low, thin plants” to put in front of that A/C unit and found Sorghastrum nutans Thin Man, an Indiangrass that grows upright to very blue foliage. Sounds nice. And it’s on sale for only $11.99. Of course, I would need about six plants, and that’s kind of pricy so I’ll look for other things. But you get the idea.
  • Work in color and texture as well as height and shape. Make sure you’ve got the sun or shade your plants will need.

And that’s how you do landscape design. Pick the plants LAST.

Today’s Photo

No idea what it is, but you can be sure it was part of the Green Spring Garden design.


We were supposed to get our final exams today, but the program director was locked out of the computer system.

I don’t care. I’m getting measured for my gown and cap. Graduation is the 17th, and I’m told they put on quite a spread.

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