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Garden Design

November 29th, 2011

It is true that nature, up to a point, can, and often should, be compelled by the gardener. But the very best gardens are made when nature is a collaborator rather than an adversary. Often, that part of the gardener’s site that seems at first a painful liability turns out in the end to be the very genius of the garden, its best asset.

Joe Eck (Elements of Garden Design)

I must admit that I really need to work on my overall plan for the gardens of Chiot’s Run. Before I purchased the lots on either side this wasn’t really a problem, my garden was small, I had a plan and I was executing it. Now it’s a bit of a challenge since what used to be the boundaries of my garden are no longer there.

The edges I had defined and planted with hedges and ornamental borders are no longer there. My garden extends a quarter acre on both sides beyond the previous boundaries. My current garden is the middle slice of the lot. I have to decide how to proceed to incorporate these two new areas into my existing garden plan and make it seem cohesive.

Even though we don’t plan on living here forever, and because of the local gas fracking we may be moving sooner rather than later, I’m still a believer in gardening as if you’re never leaving. I may only live here for another year or two, or I may end up living here the rest of my life. I would really hate to be here 10 years from now and have spent that time putting off what I wanted to do just in case I moved away.

I’m working on moving forward with my new and expanded gardening plan, trying to figure out how to deal with expanding my current garden plan onto lots beyond it’s border. I’ve already started by planting bluebells and daffodils along a new walkway through the maple grove. It connects the fire ring in back of our current garden to the new lower lot. Eventually the plan is to have these flowering bulbs wander down into what will hopefully become an orchard on the front of this lot. The new lot on the other side will, in my mind, become a more formal potager surrounded by a strong hedge to keep out the deer and to provide privacy for the neighbors. These are just a few of my initial thoughts, I need to sit down and scratch them onto paper and try to figure how I must proceed to make my plan a reality and to fit my current garden into this new plan cohesively.

Do you have master garden plan? What’s your biggest problem when it comes to garden design?

15 Comments to “Garden Design”
  1. Kathi Cook on November 29, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I really need to learn more about garden design, This book sounds like a great winter read. I like my potager design, but the rest of my yard looks random and haphazard. I know good design when I see it, but don’t really have an eye for design. My biggest challenge is screening my yard from very close neighbors without using huge fences. We already have too tall hemlocks and various mixed evergreen on our small lot.

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  2. Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm on November 29, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I have expanded my gardens a lot this year. I have the space already but it was not being used for anything. I sitll have a lot of wild fields that are being wasted but just don’t hav ehte time or resources to do antyhign with them. My greatest problem is a truck that doesn’t work right now. I desperately need a truckload of manure and mulch and can’t get it!

    I now have all the expanded garden space either tilled or covered with cardboard and shredded paper. Soon I will be covereing it with autumn leaves also and it will probably stay this way for the winter. I will get the manure I need int he spring.

    I also garden like I will live here forever, although I’m sure that won’t be the case.

    Reply to Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm's comment

  3. Donna B. on November 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Susy, you are really lucky to have such a large area to work with!
    Currently I only garden in my front yard, which only occupies about 1200~1500sq ft. I will, though, expand to the back yard [which is almost double the size!!] and to make it more pleasing to the eye, rather than practical – grass, and a dirt pit because my dogs can’t stop running and kicking up the grass! Hee hee.
    I am always tinkering with my garden “plans”, I have a graph paper binder that is filled with schematics and designs of how I want to place my garden, with an isometric illustration to detail what goes where for each area. [I’m an illustrator. I work best in doodles, not words, heh.]
    I love the plan of an informal path to the orchard! That sounds like it will be lovely once everything starts to spread and naturalize!

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  4. Dave on November 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I have a general idea where I want my garden to go but no formal master plan. I started with some ideas, implemented the beds, then added the plants as I acquired them. It’s pretty hodgepodge right now and I end up moving stuff repeatedly!

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  5. SixBalloons on November 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I like the good attitude that you have about the land and your home. We never know what will happen, so it is best to fully commit, right?

    Reply to SixBalloons's comment

  6. homeschool mama on November 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    My biggest problem with garden design is tall trees and the shade that they create is different during different seasons. So, I could have full sun in the summer in one particular area but be entirely shaded in winter or vice versa.

    Reply to homeschool mama's comment

  7. Tee on November 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I had a similar dilemma …we lived here for 5 years all the while I landscaped around an ugly septic mound…but then it thankfully had to be moved to the edge of the property and all my previous landscaping made less sence…so back to the drawing board I went.
    What helped me the most was I really love the concept of outdoor rooms…so cutting through one bed or another to expand beyond made it flow nicely.
    Of course it is always an endless project.
    Good post.

    Reply to Tee's comment

  8. KimH on November 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    My biggest problem with a master garden plan is living in town and having a neighbor who uses my front yard as a pathway to put one of his smaller boats in between our houses over the winter.. and I have to be nice.. Grrr.. ;)

    I’ve always had ideas, but in my own design & master plan at home, they just sort of develop over time.. and thats usually the best way for me.

    I used to do landscape design & lawn care for a few folks back when, and I was strictly a by the book kinda gal.. but it sure isnt really a part of my nature.

    When I think of your gardens, from what I’ve heard of them, I can easily envision something similar to Tasha Tudor’s gardens someday.. my idea of heaven! :)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  9. goatpod2 on November 29, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I do the garden designs here, my Dad does!


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  10. Ben on November 30, 2011 at 12:47 am

    My dad used to map out in vivid detail his garden. I remember seeing his drawing like an architect had done it. He was a real gardening maniac. In fact, his ideas were too big for our land, so he convinced our neighbors to let him use their back yard. His favorite thing to grow was garlic and he knew exactly when to plant garlic to the day. He was funny. Thanks for the article.

    Reply to Ben's comment

  11. alison@thisbloominglife on November 30, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I’ve always created gardens on the go. Fill one spot and move to the next. Then I married a planner – aaaaagh! In order to save the marriage we brought in a friend who is a landscape architect and he put our ideas on paper (plus a few we hadn’t thought of). Gotta say, it was worth it to save the marriage and now I’m kept busy implementing it all!

    Reply to alison@thisbloominglife's comment

  12. selvaraj on December 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Really nice information

    Reply to selvaraj's comment

  13. judym on December 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    we have no real design plan. We are trying to group some things We’ve begun putting raspberries, grapes and strawberries by our apple trees. We have most of our raised beds together right now for our veggies and herbs, expanding next year. Roses are starting in the back yard, flowers/shrubs around the outbuildings are planned. It’s good to see such progress. Plan on reading that book of yours as well!

    Reply to judym's comment

  14. Rachel on December 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I have no master plan, but instead have allowed my garden to evolve over the past 4 years. We have the difficulty of a narrow, hilly lot with a septic field in the front yard, which doesn’t allow for a formal or symmetrical garden layout. This is rather challenging, but it also forces creativity. I like the space (physical and psychological) that a garden provides for experimentation.

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  15. home and garden on April 30, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I am so passionate about garden design. I’ll definetly read this book, hop it will be interesting.

    Reply to home and garden's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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