Friday, October 12, 2007

3D Virtual Garden Design: The Hourglass Garden

As I read more garden blogs, seed catalogs, and visit other gardens, I feel compelled to collect and admire more perennials. The trouble is, where would I put more plants? I need a new flower bed, which is plainly obvious to me (if only resident-lawnmower-man had the same divine vision). I had an idea for a flower bed in the center of the lawn earlier this year, but it didn't appeal to RLM.

Thanks to a landscaping computer program, I have a 3D model of our house and yard to play with. Recently, I came up with a series of designs and consulted with RLM about them. He settled on this final design, while mocking my enthusiasm for virtual mulch-spreading and digital hosta-planting. I call the design the "Hourglass Garden".

So in the manner of HGTV, here is the yard "before" the proposed new flowerbed. There are four "Carmine Jewel" tart cherries in the lawn, and the flowerbed will incorporate the two nearest the back of the yard.

Here is the yard "after" the new flower bed. I hope the new flowerbed matches the scale of the other beds in the yard. It would be nice to put a flowerbed close to the front of the yard, where it is more visible from the road. However, it would be destroyed by snowplow's heaved gravel or the temporary spring pond created by the mountain of melting snow.

A top-down view of the yard with the new hourglass flowerbed. We built the two stone-wall raised beds two years ago. The center of the lawn features an established blue spruce, a crabapple, 3 sandcherries, and 4 young tart cherries.

A view from the front of the new flowerbed. It would be edged with stones, to match the stonework in the rest of the yard. I would surround the plants with cedar bark mulch.

Another front view. I think this bed would create a "garden room" in the back area of lawn. I hope it doesn't look silly to separate the lawn like this.

Do you like the random person in my virtual yard? I just thought it was fun to use this feature of the program. The area beyond the road is not really a vast grassland, but a lake with hundreds of little islands. It was just too difficult to add to the computer model.

Left side of the hourglass. I have always wanted a bench to sit and ponder the flowers, so I've put one under the mature willow tree. I will probably use dry-tolerant plants in this bed to accommodate the tart cherries, which need to be dry in late summer and fall. Of course, without the lawn around them, they might soak up more moisture.

Arbour at the center of the hourglass. RLM figures this flowerbed design would work well because we could create it in steps, making the right side first.

The view down the left side of the yard.

You can click on any of the photos to see a larger image. So what do you think? Is anybody else doing virtual landscaping?


Karen said...

I think virtual landscaping is perfect for your situation, with a large property and a limited number of established features. It gives you the opportunity to plan out large projects and see roughly how they will look.

I'm sure you've already thought of this, but I'll mention it anyway. Since the arbour seems to be the main throughway from one area of lawn to the other, you will need to make sure your arbour is wide/tall enough and your path is sturdy enough to accommodate any equipment that needs access to both sides.

Gardenista said...

Karen - yes, I was concerned about dragging hoses through that area. I think we'll put boulders or hose guides by the arbour and for larger equipment, we always have the lane on the left side of the yard.

We will keep the back lawn open because it is useful to get vehicles from the lane to the door on the side of the house for unloading things.

I'm still brainstorming here, so I welcome any ideas!

Clayton said...

What is the program you are using? I had an old one but it was a lot of work - almost as much as doing the real thing! Also is it to scale for the most part?

It looks great!


Gardenista said...

I am using Realtime Landscaping Plus 3. The yard and house are to scale. I actually went out and measured the house and yard to figure out the dimensions. I also went from various trees and features and measured distances between things.

The program is quite good compared to others I've used (and it's available immediately as a download).

The hard part is modeling the terrain, not because of the program, but because it's hard to record and replicate an uneven terrain. The progam uses a grid with points that can be elevated or lowered to suit the terrain. You can make the grid huge or small and detailed. Once you're done, it will also do "video" walkthroughs, with birds chirping and tree branches waving in the breeze while you float through your yard on a predetermined camera path!

elizabethm said...

Fascinating blog and good luck in creating another flowerbed! What a challenge you have in gardening where you are. I feel embarrassed by how often I feel my Welsh hillside is tricky!

Anonymous said...

What a great program! If you want to come down here and plan my new yard, I definately need help (as you can see by the photos on facebook). We still haven't done much other than pull out a couple of rotten wooden planters (seriously, who uses non-treated wooden planters in Seattle ...) and taking out a lot of the smaller plants that appeared to be growing wild.


Anonymous said...

see my garden

GriyatamaBaru said...

wow cool design garden

jesi k said...

Decent post. I simply came across your blog and wanted to state that I've really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.Property Maintenance London