Who needs garden design software…?

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Despite hours of trolling the internet, I haven’t found any satisfactory garden design software out there for me and my trusty Mac. I’m hopeless with pencil and paper—I’ve changed my mind so many times that my eraser is wearing holes in my sketches. So, I’ve had to create another solution using my tools at hand—the internet and Photoshop.

I must preface this by saying that I am a relative neophyte at Photoshop. I can do only the most basic things—draw lines, drag-and-drop, etc. But what I’ve been able to do is draw a basic plan of my front garden as the background. Then I’ve taken images of desirable garden lovelies (perennials mostly) from the internet, then saved them to scale. Now, I can drag and drop images of flowers into my plan—and play around with colors and shapes in a way that my pencil-and-paper attempts couldn’t do.


It’s helping me develop a good balance of color and shape, but it does have its limitations. This system gives me a two-dimensional plan, so I can tell how much land each plant will take up, but the plan doesn’t reveal the relative heights of various plants. So, I’m having to go back and refer to my cheat-sheets to know exactly how high each plant should get. (Of course, I’m following the most basic of garden plans—tall plants at the back, shorter plants up front, with the occasional Allium giganteum or the like to shake things up a bit.)

The proof will be in the pudding, of course. This will be the third garden that I’ve planned, and to date, I’ve never been much good at following my own plans. My tendency has been to take the plan to the garden center, get frustrated by the fact that perhaps not everything on my list is in stock at that particular time, then get sucked in by the “oooh factor”—as in, “Ooooh! Look at this!” or “Ooooh, I have to have that!” Needless to say, my gardens of the past have always been a hodgepodge—part plan and part serendipity.

Also, I’ve also discovered a real discrepancy between what the “experts” say a plant will do and what it actually does in my garden. How many times have I planted a “back-of-the-border” plant in the back, only to have it disappear behind an unruly and aggressive neighbor?

So, I’m not holding my breath that my plan will be anything like the reality. But it’s going to be fun to see what happens!


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