Jump In! The Landscape Design Process

People sometimes ask me for the rules of designing a landscape...and I reply that, at its core, there are none.

except for my admonition to become a 'Space Master'...scale, proportion and spatial requirements are paramount to the success of any layout plan.

But there is a general process that occurs which involves site inventory, site analysis and needs assessment.....after you compile all this information and plot it as a plan then it is time to jump in...

Jump in ! Brainstorm! Inhale then exhale it all...

this is akin to Charlotte Rains Dixon's prescription for the Writing Process in her marvelous blog, Word Strumpet....here is my condensed version of her wonderful advice:

1.Glump it all out on the page. Give it all up, put it all down. Everything. Write fast and hot and furiously in a gloriously messy rough draft that you have no idea how you're ever going to fix .....

2. Rewrite it. ...You've got a first draft in which you have gotten down on paper the story as you understand it. But now you have to shape it and mount it dramatically. You need to start figuring out how to best present the story to the reader, so that they will get it--and be entertained by it....

3. Rewrite it again. Seriously. And you may have to rewrite it again and again and again. ....

4. Revise it. .....This step occurs only after you are certain that you've got the story down the way you want it, that it is all working. ....you are looking at grammar, punctuation, and spelling. .....

Ms. Dixon's advice could be used for designing an outdoor space as well except that grammar and punctuation are now drainage, grading and paving patterns.

I love her suggestion to  'glump it all down' but I would add to this 'do not get married to it' ..

.just keep glumping...this must be a 'technical term' (smile).

Great Designs arise out of much 'glumping'....boy, that word is growing on me.....just keep glumping away.  O.k., stop me now....

(one of my plant borders - Jan Johnsen)

It all comes about through revision, revision and reviewing and when you think you have it - then start over from the beginning -  I am not kidding.

That is the Design Process in a nutshell......


  1. I am happy to make the garden connection with you via Facebook!
    I hope you don't mind I add you to my FRIENDS who inspire on my new blog!


  2. "Glumping it all out" is often the best way, too, to make sure that you don't forget anything. I always try to keep a notepad or scraps of paper with me, so that when I think of an idea (for a painting, a drawing, or a design), I have something concrete to return to later on.

  3. ah yes - those scraps of paper or torn out pages from a magazine or the all important 'site notes'.....

  4. Jan,
    You make it sound so easy! I'd love for my little backyard to look like any one of your photos, but I'm afraid I don't have the patience or the faintest idea where to begin. It just goes to show you who the "expert" is here. Your gift is your brilliant talent for garden design.

  5. Stunning border! Another skill to learn from you...

  6. I'd love to have borders like that. Sigh. I have five acres to work with, and it's a long process. We have started to install raised 'islands' around the back yard, but trying to get those all filled in and looking like I want them, well...

    1. Mound up the beds so that the plants are higher behind....and thank you!


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