Process of Design – The Base Plan

I am going to start a series on the Process of Design. For those who may want to see the design process by a designer trained as an architect. This is the process, not always written down¬† by a professional, but always part of the design development and a very conscious part of the designer’s tools.

It is from a talk I give to garden clubs showing a step-by-step process that anyone can learn, use and understand. It will make you aware of things you may have overlooked when you are about to embark on a project large or small.

We will use my tiny property as an example and I will show a garden preceding the one I have now. It is a complete site transformation, adding fences, driveway, new entry, doors, gardens and patio. You will see the development and sketches showing how you start and what you end up with. But far more important, you will learn the ‘whys’ of design.

This is an excerpt from a printed booklet I use as a handout and you should click to enlarge. You can print the pages for reference if you like, as they are standard letter size.

And do not forget, you can blow up your plot on a copier. Just keep it in increments that you can scale, say a final plot twice its size. My plot is 1:20, but if I want it bigger, I could double it to 1:10.¬† Each inch equals 10 feet or twice as big. Easy. So the image at right becomes your base plan. What’s next?

Tomorrow, Site Analysis.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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14 Responses to Process of Design – The Base Plan

  1. Donna says:

    love this post and am anxious to read more…so important and informative!!

  2. gardeningasylum says:

    Good morning – right now this topic is very appealing. I’m in the process of researching/trying to convince my garden club to do a project to make part of the gardens we maintain at a senior housing facility accessible. I think having a set of plans, perhaps starting very small, will win them over. I’ll be following along and taking notes!

  3. Oh boy! If only! I’ve never had a big plan but my small plans always go wrong because the plants go and die or grow too big or I need to move something and that throws the whole thing or cats make a bed on them and squash them or we have a storm . . .


  4. Things like this are always immensely helpful. I’m the type to stare and stare and stare and work everything out in my mind. It works for me, but it’s difficult to show others the vision. I’ve contemplated hiring a student surveyor to come out and plot the changes in elevation on my property just to have it. It seems like something that would be immensely useful.

  5. I can tell already that I am really going to enjoy this series. I am still discovering your many hidden talents, and it is a fun journey.

  6. lifeshighway says:

    Great post, I’m a student with notebook in hand. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

  7. Megan Eliza says:

    Just starting a plan for our front yard – this couldn’t be more timely! I’ll be watching closely as this process unfolds.

  8. Charlotte says:

    I too am going to enjoy your series. I have done small designs in the past but would love to know how it’s really supposed to be done.

  9. Donna, I will ditto what Carolyn said! You have boundless energy and talent. Terrific post! Have a lovely weekend.

  10. Easier said than done! I “know” this is how you do it, but I find the planning very difficult. Once I hired a landscape designer to come talk to me for an hour or two, just to get a fresh perspective on things. It was the best money I ever spent. I didn’t do the entire garden the way he suggested but his insights were invaluable. I can’t wait to continue this series with you.

  11. I’m looking forward to this series. This is how we started with our last garden. Our current plot gives me headaches though, as here due to terrain, and sheer scope and scale, I find I have to break the plot up into areas of focus first, but at the same time, not lose sight of the big picture.

  12. One says:

    Wonderful information! I have a haphazard garden. I need help and will be looking forward to your next posts. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Looking forward to this series!! I’m sure I “reinvent the wheel” when I do garden designs for clients. Maybe there’s an easier way. Rarely do I get a plot plan, which means I’m taking a lot of measurements that are already available on a plot plan. I’m self taught, and just learn as I go along. Can’t wait to see what I learn from you in this series!!! Thanks for being so generous to teach us !!

  14. I’m going to enjoy this Donna! I will be fascinated to see how someone from your professional background approaches design. As and when we move, it could prove very useful!

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