Planting plans are really easy to draw up, and they will help you to
organize your ideas and plot the position of the plants. You can also
use a plan to visualize how much space you have and the number of plants
needed for your design.
Measuring and Visualizing Your Border
Before making a plan, first carry out a survey of the site, checking how
much sun it receives and the soil type. Then measure your planting area
accurately, and draw the outline to scale on graph paper. Look through
your chosen list of plants, and double check that each will suit the
specific conditions of the bed or border, and note their heights and
spreads to calculate the space they require.
Many people find it difficult to look at a two-dimensional plan and
visualize how their three-dimensional planting design will look, so try
using props to create an impression. Set out tripods, buckets, and pots
that are approximately the same heights and spreads as your plants in
the area you have allocated for them. Even top designers use this trick
to check that their planting ideas will work on the ground.
Making a Plan
You can either plot your plants to scale within your outline plan using
professional symbols, or simply use a bubble diagram to show roughly
where you are proposing to site different species. The benefit of a
scale drawing is that you can estimate the number of plants you will
need more accurately. Large plants, such as trees and shrubs, are
relatively easy to plot using a compass to draw circles to scale.
Remember that young trees and shrubs will be smaller than your plan
suggests, so fill in the spaces with annuals or perennials that can be
lifted and moved easily as your woody plants grow. Plot smaller plants,
such as perennials and bulbs, in groups, rather than as individual
Calculating Plant Quantities
The quantity of trees and large shrubs you require will be obvious from
your plan, but perennial numbers may be more difficult to calculate. To
help you make an accurate estimate, mark out a square yard on the
ground, then buy one or two mature plants, and place them in the square.
Allowing some s pace for spread, you can then calculate the number
needed to fill a square yard and therefore the quantities required for
your border. Bulbs can be packed very closely together, and if you are
planning on large-scale plantings, check out specialty suppliers that
offer discounts for bulk purchases.
The Final Plan
To produce a plan for
your garden design, use paper and pencil to first mark out trees using circles, and
calculate the areas beneath the canopies that will sustain shade-loving
plants, such as epimediums. Tall grasses are accent plants
that need sun, so should be set where the trees cast little or no
shade. Note that more dramatic plants, such as Helleborus foetidus
and Actaea simplex, can be used as single specimens, while
a mass of the yellow-flowered Alchemilla mollis might fill the areas in
between and spill onto a gravel patio.