How to Choose a Gardening Plan

A gardening plan allows you to develop your ideas about how to organize your space and its various elements, and share them with others. But what type of plan do you need? We'll help you pick.

Modern Multilevel Garden With Outdoor Dining Area

Modern Backyard Garden

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

A plan is a useful tool that turns a three-dimensional garden into a two-dimensional representation. Depending on the needs of your garden you might choose a simple sketch or a more detailed plan, as with the gorgeous garden above, which was designed using both overhead and planting plans.

Working Plans

Working plans are good for experimenting with ideas, especially the relationship of horizontal surfaces (built and planted) with the locations of walls, screens, trees and other main and connecting features, such as paths and views. Importantly, these sketches don’t need to be accurate or drawn to scale.

Bubble Diagram

A basic bubble diagram helps you explore relationships between areas within the garden. It is an ideal way to experiment quickly before drawing a more detailed plan.

Garden Plan Symbols

Using common symbols in plans enables builders and other professionals working in your yard to read the plan quickly and understand what is being proposed. The symbols presented here are frequently used and widely understood. They can be reproduced in black and white or color.

Overhead Plan

Plans that have been drawn to scale and show accurate arrangements, locations, and dimensions of proposed elements and features are known as finished plans. These plans are intended mainly for construction purposes and will need to be read by builders or contractors who use them to measure areas and lengths (for costing purposes), and to identify exact locations on the ground.

An overhead plan should show the correct sizes and locations of all proposed elements, such as horizontal surfaces, areas of planting (topsoil), locations and alignments of linear elements(walls, fences, screens, hedges) and singular components (trees, specimen shrubs, pools, stepping stones, steps, lights and drainage points).

Planting Plan

A planting plan is important for calculating the correct number of plants in the garden and identifying their exact locations. It also shows the position of larger specimens, as well as groups or drifts of the same species. This plan is most useful, and needs to be most accurate, when contractors are planting without the designer present. If you are doing the planting, a plan can help you accurately calculate the number of plants you’ll need and show how to set them out prior to planting.

Cross-Section Plan

If you have a sloping garden and want to make changes to it, you may need a plan to show the impact of these alterations. For steeply sloping yards, hire a land surveyor to draw a cross-section, or elevation plan. This will show the significant levels before and after any changes. More complex slopes may need additional plans. Less complex slopes can simply annotate the change of level on the overhead plan.

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