Design Challenge: Garden Designers Rountable

All of us are working on the same real life design problem this month–a landscape renovation for a young couple’s New England country home.  Tuesday’s Find will return next week.

For my part, I’m going to attempt to explain my process–or how I arrive at the conceptual design idea.   I actually cultivate a  lack of continuity in my initial thoughts because that scatter-shot method serves my creative purpose–ideas flow fast and freely…so here goes.

Even with pictures and descriptions, I have to walk a property–to experience it in three dimensions to be able to understand its nuances and its land speak.  What I found at Amy’s  (abcddesigns) country house was a property in need of cohesion.  The clean sophisticated simplicity of  the architecture and materials of the existing home and the out buildings needed an overall concept to tie them together visually and functionally.

The entry courtyard

Each structure was beautiful unto itself, but none really related to another by anything other than proximity.  There was no real arrival experience.

Path to the front door

In the back there had been some attempt to place these structures in logical places, but what the property lacked was flow.  Each space seemed separate–they needed the landscape to unify them.

The main house and 4 of 5 outbuildings

The first step in my process, after finding out the homeowner’s dreams for their property  is to plot everything–measurements are taken and located on a drawing to scale.  Below you’ll see is my notes scribbled on a copy of that basemap. I don’t do ‘bubble diagrams’ because I am visualizing the space as I make notes.  This works for me and doesn’t lock me into an idea.  My notes address client requests, ideas of  my own and whatever else seems appropriate in the flow of the creative process.  I work quickly–changing and editing as I go along letting some ideas become more fully realized and letting others fall away.

Ideas and notes

On the property there is already a mashup of  materials in play.   When I visited in the fall, Amy had already replaced the turf in front of the barn with a bluestone courtyard.  There were granite slab steps, bluestone walks, wood fences and stone walls.   I chose bluestone as the unifying material.  It’s plentiful locally and classic.

Wood, gravel. bluestone and granite

One of the things that interests me most about landscape design is how to get people from one point to another and how they will interact with each other as well the three dimensional space.  Sometimes plants form that underlying structure, some times its paths and hard surfaces.

The Conceptual Plan

Amy’s style is eclectic yet contemporary.  To create a unified design that complemented the architecture and without moving any of the major features, I developed a geometric scheme based on the existing relationships.   On her wish list was a patio by the screen porch and an herb garden.  On her husband’s was a spa and a lap pool.  They are not avid gardeners and do not want to be.

By searching for relationships between the existing outbuildings and creating new ones with paths and patios, I have been able to unify the space and create logical transitions between each area.  This is drawing would be the first of many revisions in the design process.  There are no real details in this plan.  It’s simply starting point.

For the rest of the Roundtable designer’s ideas for the same project, visit the links below

Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Ivette Soler, Los Angeles, CA

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

6 thoughts on “Design Challenge: Garden Designers Rountable

  1. Susan, has a lovely logicality about it.
    Cool and restful sense of movement.
    Want to revisit this and look properly.
    Off to get some supper!

    Was out in NYC all day and came back to some lovely comments including yours! Hope your supper was delicious.–s

  2. Susan, your response to this space was similar to mine, but our interpretations were unique. I like yours very much; it’s a creates a cooler and softer looking space. Thanks, again, for organizing this fun project!

    I’m off to read the links after being out in New York all day. Come home to gardens and spring instead of grey slush and snow!–s

  3. Susan, Your design definitely unites the property and helps it all speaks the same language. I especially like the way the bluestone path links all the buildings together.

    Thanks Deb. It was a bit daunting to find those relationships–they are always there if we look hard enough. I’m off to read the posts now…–s

  4. Susan, I enjoyed this peek into the first stage of your design process. For me that’s been the most interesting part of reading this Roundtable exercise.

    For me too, Pam. Seeing how everyone would approach a similar problem from the get go is fascinating.–s

  5. There is something just right about a landscape that unifies themes and pulls it all together. I love the way you found the relationships between everything and pulled it together, and what a beautiful presentation, too.

    Thanks Gen. I look for those relationships first…kind of like finding the corners and outside pieces in a jigsaw puzzle…I do that first too.–s

  6. We both had about the same design concepts for the front entrance and unifying the house with the outbuildings.

    I also feel like you do about being able to walk the property to grasp its landspeak.

    I enjoyed reading about your process of arriving at the conceptual design .

    Thanks, Carolyn. I agree with you, but our approaches to the back and side were totally different.–s

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