Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Planning Gardens on SmartDraw

You all remember my backyard, right? My muse, my blank canvas that I'm ready to flex my fledgling gardening muscles on?

You don't?

Well here's a reminder.

These were taken in August, right before we closed on the house.

Don't judge me! The weeds are now cut down.

Yesterday as I was tooling around the Internet looking for fabulous garden designs to inspire me to figure out what to do with our backyard, I stumbled across something amazing. Let me introduce you to SmartDraw. (Note I'm not getting paid to sell this program, and I didn't even buy it, I just downloaded the trial version)

But just let me tell you... I'm in love!!!

I downloaded the trial version, and the software was really easy to learn how to use... very similar to Microsoft Office 2007, so it only took me a couple of minutes to figure out what to do.

First, I drew the boundaries of our new nest, luckily I had measured most things and had the backyard measurements in my handy gardening notebook, where I keep a list of all the plants I want to grow. As you draw lines, measurements appear, clearly showing you the length of perimeters, and I even giving you the area in square footage... which makes my right sided artistic brain happy! Anytime I don't have to do math, I get fired up!

After the basic boundaries were drawn, I added in fences, doors, our patio, permanent features that will help me visualize the rest of the backyard. And then came the fun part.

The landscaping library has dozens and dozens of plant figures, flower pots, garden features, and the coolest of them all, garden furniture. See the menu bar to the left of the screen below, you select what you want and then just drag it easily into place on your garden plan. For example I drug out the hot tub and gazebo and placed them in the corner of my yard. How cool is that?

Obviously in the planning of my backyard wonderland, I'm not taking into consideration the "economic downturn" that's facing our nation. There is no way on earth that the Chef and I could install a hot tub and gazebo just so we can soak, sip wine, and watch the sun set over the Rocky Mountains. But I created my garden landscape plan with an eye to the future.

I showed the landscape plan to my husband, who had been struggling to fully understand my "vision" as I've attacked the backyard. Suddenly he was on board, fully understanding my thoughts and plans. The top of the drawing is north/northwest. You'll see a row of plants across the top, which represents the vegetable garden of my backyard. This part is on a hill, and has been terraced about two feet lower than the rest of the yard. The steps leading down to this vegetable garden area are in place, but the stepping stone walkway which curves around down to the garden shed exists only in my head. For the next several years until we can build that hot tub/gazebo, I'll use that area as an herb and cutting garden.

On the deck, you'll see that I've placed a pergola overhead, where I'll grow wisteria and climbing roses to block the summer heat. To the left of that you'll see a little outdoor kitchen area for the Chef, we've got to keep him happy, right? Foundation planting and flower beds round out the backyard, and the H in the middle of the grassy lawn area shows where we could build a swing set for our unborn kids.

I can see the backyard finished, lush with flowers and green, can't you?

The front yard planning wasn't (quite) as much fun. I've already created thick flower beds in front of the house, which I hope will burst forth in color this spring. But eventually I'd like to install a fence along the sidewalk, just to encourage people to stay on the path and out of my flowers! Of course planting more roses, lilac bushes, and other flowers are on the ten year plan.

Isn't this fun? So if you have spring fever like me, and are already itching to be outside planting, playing with flowers, and are sorely tempted by all of the sales at the online flower nurseries, try out this software. It might be useful, and even better, its free! SmartDraw.


Random Steph said...

It makes me want a yard.

Screwed Up Texan said...

Oooh neat! I think I just may have to get me a trial version too. One of my biggest complaints I have with my husband is that he doesnt "get" what I envision for our crappy peice of a small space called a backyard. Thanks for sharing!

Sonja said...

Hi Amy,

Great job. Not an impossible vision and it could take less than 10 years to realize.


Rude1 said...

Awww crap. As a landscape designer, I hate to see this; now what am I supposed to do? ;)

Good luck on your project!


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