Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Gardening Goes High-Tech

Resident-lawnmower-man (RLM) could only sigh about this one...no I do not have a Playstation or Wii or Xbox or even a fancy new iPod. No, I've been playing with landscaping software. I previously had bought a similar type of (cheaper) software that you could use to design homes for fun, but it had some terrible programming and the bugs precluded its successful use. Recently, I've been thinking about replacing more lawn with a large bed containing the trees and shrubs in the center of the lawn, but I'm hesitant to go out there and actually do it.
Here you can see the existing yard and the new digital design - from the front of the yard:
Currently RLM has to mow and trim around the trees and I've noticed damage on the base of the crabapple. Okay, so it's more than an issue of saving the trees and reducing lawn-mowing, and I have been envisioning more flowers, more shrubs, and perhaps an artful arrangement of rocks on the center of the yard. I have no idea what kind of style you would call it, but it would have to reflect the flowing curves of the current rock walls. RLM wanted a "dry creek bed" design, I'm suggesting more "stones strewn around by twirling glaciers". I figure that this bed can have bark mulch as groundcover around all the plants and I'd use only hardy, low-maintenance shrubs and perennials in the bed. It would be edged with black plastic edging for ease of maintenance.
From the deck on the second floor:
Maybe I was inspired by those reality TV shows that use computers to virtually landscape yards and put new shutters on the houses (or at least I know that RLM is a sucker for these shows and maybe he'll like my digital design). I made a 3D model of my house, the terrain, and existing landscaping of my lot and then plunked down my new flowerbed. The program is amazing, I must say. It is powerful in that they have thousands of plants, trees, shrubs and all the miscellaneous features (gnomes, edging, lights, mulch, benches, BBQs) you might want. You can customize the 3D model to accurately match your yard and house, but the terrain landscaping (elevations at various points in the yard) is a bit difficult to set up. This isn't so much the program's fault but the fact that I don't have a topographical map of my uneven and hilly yard, so I had to make some guesses and I think I got it "good enough".
From the back yard:
Potential plants in my new bed:
  • Echinacea
  • Stonecrop
  • Alpine Currants
  • "Silvermound" Artemisia
  • Bergenia cordifolia
  • Bird's Nest spruce
  • Potentilla fruticosa
  • maybe Solomon's Seal
  • The area already contains: 1 Colorado blue spruce, 3 sandcherries, 3 Carmine Jewel tart cherries, and a pink Japanese flowering crabapple.

Feedback anyone? You know, this is the ultimate answer to a rainy day in the garden - virtual indoor gardening! I bought the program from this site, if anyone should want to check it out (I'm not advertising here). You'd probably want to be pretty comfortable with your computer and have a 3D video card to be able to use this program. My computer is 3 yrs old but I've installed more RAM and a new 3D video card.


Karen said...

Wow, you did a really good job with the design. I think you should go for it. More beds, less lawn! But then, I'm trying to eliminate grass from my yard (much smaller than yours) so I might be biased.

Gardenista said...

Thanks! Yeah, I always have the environmental argument on my side when it comes to removing lawn. Of course, our lawn is currently full of dandelions and I'd like to see all of it gone at the moment!

Cherie said...

First, I want to congratulate you on the beautiful bed layout.

Second, as a wife of RLM, it is in your best interest to push/ride the mower around the bed design before you cut the grass out. If this bed is a breeze to drive around, this will help him get on board for future projects.

Unfortunately, I speak from experience, we designed a flower bed that was what we both wanted and agreed on but when we push the mower around it, I hate it.