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Proven Winners

Garden Design & Planning

Garden correspondent Paul Epsom demonstrates a multi-faceted garden design program.

Our mantra is "plan twice, plant once." And now there are some useful software tools to help you do just that

With that in mind, we advocate four basic principles of planning and designing a garden or landscaping project:

1) Decide what to keep
2) Consider the sun, wind and rain
3) Consider the views
4) Make a plan

That last but all-important step of making a plan can be a challenge whether your project is simple or complex, and whether you're a beginner or an old pro. Pencil and paper are still a good place to start for some, but luckily, for those of us with less developed drawing talent, there are now some remarkable high-tech tools available to help with planning.

Digital snapshots of your garden project area are key.

First off, a digital camera comes in especially handy. Use it to take "before" pictures of your project area from several different angles. You can then easily download those images to a computer to work with them further, which is where it gets interesting — and fun.

Relatively inexpensive garden and landscape design software packages are now available, making it easy for ordinary homeowners to design and plan entire garden and landscaping projects themselves.

Once you've snapped images of your project area, you can get started by choosing one and importing it into the software program — this serves as the basis for your design layout. From there you can choose from an array of plants, walls, trellises, sprinkler systems, dog houses and other elements, and position them right onto your layout. You can incorporate information about your local climate and other variables, which the program uses to offer suggestions most appropriate to your project. It even lets you "age" the plants you've selected to see how they will look through the coming seasons. And if your creative juices just aren't flowing, you can also take advantage of the many pre-designed garden plans.

Another high-tech benefit of these software programs is that you can view your design layout at any time in either 2D or 3D. That means you can look at the overall plan from overhead, or actually "stroll" through your new garden right on your computer, inspecting the design from every angle and making changes as you see fit. And when you've finalized your design, the program will automatically generate a shopping list of everything you've decided to include.

Digital camera, personal computer, garden design software — all useful tools, whether you're changing the garden you've got or creating one from scratch. Especially if you're no Picasso with a pencil and paper!

The software package Paul Epsom demonstrated on air is available from most computer software retailers for around $30.

For more information on resources used on the show, visit our Resource Directory

This segment appears in show #2701.

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Published August 31, 2007