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5 Suggestions for Drawing a Killer Backyard Plan, Even when You’re Not a Designer


Most householders are on the hunt for the “finest app” to make use of to design their backyard, as a substitute of hand-drawing their very own plan. 

The difficulty is… you don’t know what you don’t know.

The reality is… apps are NOT the reply.

I do know, I do know. You’re not Picasso. You’re embarrassed by your individual stick figures. You’ll be able to’t visualize a backyard out of a clean web page.

However fortunately, you’ve acquired me to information you.

It’s time to ditch the “can’t do” angle and ineffective apps. They’re holding you again from getting your dream backyard.

By the tip of this submit, you’ll be capable to draw your individual killer backyard plan that’s distinctive to YOUR backyard and YOUR fashion.

Let’s get began!

Watch this video to learn to draw a backyard plan (or preserve studying for the step-by-step directions).

1- Get To Know Your Area

Earlier than we hit the drafting board, we have to hit the backyard! A backyard plan drawing and not using a backyard to place it in is… a drawing.

So, first, measure the realm the place your backyard mattress shall be.

Make an observation of:

  • The scale of your backyard mattress (size and depth).
    • What form is your backyard mattress?
    • Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical?
  • Something you shouldn’t block with crops (like home windows, doorways, utility entry). 
    • Measure the size of every object.
    • Measure how excessive above your backyard mattress they’re.

After you have these particulars, you’ll be capable to see potential drawback areas earlier than you even begin drawing.

Typically, if there’s a low window or a utility space to cope with, it forces you to create an asymmetrical design. It’s higher to know this stuff earlier than you get began. They’re harder to appropriate after the actual fact.

Measurements of garden bed in plan and elevation view.
Listed here are measurements of a raised backyard mattress in each plan view (prime left) and elevation view (backside proper). If I had been to solely see the plan view drawing, I wouldn’t have observed that the home windows are solely 24″ from the soil degree. Now that I do know this, I can design in a manner that gained’t impede views from the window. Illustrations by Fairly Purple Door.

I do know this measuring step feels sort of boring. However it’s completely important to create an correct backyard plan. You’ll by no means see an expert designer skip this step… irrespective of how uninteresting it could really feel.

Simply do not forget that if the design you create on paper doesn’t match, blocks views or obstructs utilities, it fails.

“In case your design works on paper it is going to work in actual life.”

-Amy Fedele, PrettyPurpleDoor

After you have your measurements, it will likely be very straightforward so that you can plot out the backyard house.

Bonus Tip: When you’re measuring, snap some images of the backyard mattress. Be sure you take photos from completely different angles. And, undoubtedly take one from straight on (standing proper in entrance of your backyard mattress space). Extra on this within the subsequent part.

2- Decide a View

Now that you’ve your measurements, you’ll must select a view to attract from. There are a couple of completely different views to select from. The important thing right here is to decide on the view that may make it best so that you can visualize your backyard house.

3 Drawings of Same Cape Cod Style House - in Plan View, Elevation View and Perspective
Backyard plans may be drawn from above (plan view), from immediately in entrance (elevation view, or 1 level perspective) and in 3D (2 level perspective view). Illustrations by PrettyPurpleDoor.
  • Is it simpler to visualise your backyard from above?
    That is referred to as plan view. In plan view, you’ll view backyard crops as a collection of circles and different shapes. It is a view I usually use later within the course of, after I’m selecting crops.
  • Is it simpler to visualise your backyard from immediately in entrance of it?
    That is referred to as elevation view. It is a flat, 2-dimensional (2D) view generally known as 1-point perspective. It permits you to see what your backyard would appear to be whereas standing proper in entrance of it.
  • Is it simpler to visualise your backyard with depth within the house?
    That is referred to as perspective view. That is essentially the most detailed view you need to use because it’s a three-dimensional (3D) view. That is generally known as 2-point perspective. Drawing what your backyard will “truly” appear to be in 3D can generally be very complicated, particularly in the event you’re a newbie.

For the needs of this submit, we’re going to make use of elevation view for our backyard plan drawings. 

A 2D elevation drawing provides you one of the best of each worlds.

You’re capable of visualize what the backyard will “truly” appear to be, with out the added complexity of drawing in three dimensions.  

3- Use the Proper Instruments

Earlier than we get to drawing, let’s just be sure you have the fitting instruments obtainable to you. 

Ditch the Apps

First, ditch the concept an app or a drawing program goes that can assist you to visualise your backyard plan. It’s manner simpler to do that by hand, particularly if all you want is an easy drawing.

Listed here are some causes that I usually don’t advocate utilizing panorama design apps.

  • Apps are very restricted, particularly free variations. You’ll end up attempting to design an area however gained’t have the fitting plant shapes or sizes to you.
  • Apps can provide you a false sense of actuality. If you’re utilizing an app, it’s straightforward to squish and squeeze to make your crops match collectively. This isn’t what occurs in actual life. So, when you can squish an 8 foot rounded shrub right into a 4 foot pyramidal formed shrub in an app, this gained’t translate to actuality.
  • Apps are a time suck. As if drawing a backyard plan isn’t difficult sufficient, you’re additionally including the additional complexity of getting to study a brand new laptop program. This is usually a whole time suck. Hours can go by and also you’ll nonetheless be looking for the “excellent crops” to put in your panorama. Which leads me to my subsequent level…
  • The crops gained’t be suited to your situations. Particularly when utilizing a free model, you’ll have a really restricted alternative of crops. And, relying on the place you reside, the crops you’re selecting might not even develop in your geographical space. To prime it off, they could be suited to situations that you simply don’t have.
  • Apps solely present a second in time. Due to the character of drawing a backyard plan, any app that you simply use will solely present your backyard at one cut-off date. So, your whole shrubs will appear to be they’re flowering within the photograph. However, what do these crops appear to be in spring, summer season, fall and winter? If you’re selecting crops that bloom in numerous seasons (which you need to be), you’re going to get a false sense of what your backyard will truly appear to be from any design in an app.

Now that you recognize why you shouldn’t use an app, let’s speak about what you need to be utilizing as a substitute.

Tracing Paper Over a Photograph

Printed photo of house with tracing paper over top
Tracing paper over a photograph is my most well-liked technique for brainstorming backyard mattress structure concepts.

Utilizing tracing paper over an precise photograph of your house is an effective way to get began drawing a killer backyard plan. When drawing in elevation view, you’ll need to select the photograph you took in step 1 that’s a straight on view of your backyard mattress. This view will make it best to attract your plan.

So, print out the photograph you snapped earlier. Then, use tracing paper over the photograph to attract out completely different backyard plans. I like utilizing tracing paper as a result of it provides you the liberty to discover many alternative concepts rapidly. 

Listed here are some tracing paper choices you may strive:

  • Strathmore Tracing paper pad 50-count (Purchase on Amazon). It is a good, handy solution to buy your tracing paper. It is available in a pad with sheets you may tear out.
  • Canson Tracing paper roll 12”x50yds (Purchase on Amazon). My instructors have at all times inspired me to buy rolls of tracing paper that may be torn off rapidly. Typically, utilizing a pad could make you extra conservative when utilizing the tracing paper and a roll of paper may be extra liberating for the inventive course of.

Draw out your shapes on the tracing paper over your photograph. Then seize one other piece of paper and take a look at once more. I’ve at all times discovered that this iterative course of works finest for arising with new concepts. Typically, my finest drawings are 5 and even 10 variations in. So, at all times preserve drawing and attempting to consider new concepts.

Bonus Tip: In the event you’re having hassle seeing your photograph via the tracing paper, turning the photograph right into a “cartoon” or line drawing utilizing a cellphone app will help. Or, print out your photograph and darken the most important traces of your photograph with a sharpie so they’re simpler to see via the hint paper.

Tracing Paper Over Graph Paper

Tracing paper over a hand drawn garden plan on graph paper
In the event you don’t have a photograph, utilizing tracing paper over a backyard mattress plotted on graph paper is one other solution to sketch concepts.

In the event you don’t need to or can’t work from an precise photograph, you may as well draw out your house on graph paper utilizing the measurements you took in step 1. I like to make use of one block on the graph paper for 1 foot of backyard house. Or, no matter ratio works finest for you.

When you’re completed together with your base sketch, it’s a good suggestion to “ink in” your pencil traces with a pen. It is going to show you how to to see the drawing extra clearly via the tracing paper. It might additionally make your drawing really feel extra official. 

Be sure you don’t draw on this “finalized” copy any more. Make photocopy of your official base plan and draw your backyard plan concepts immediately onto the copies. Or, put tracing paper over the finalized base plan to iterate your concepts rapidly. 

Plant Kind Cutouts

If you’re completely not into drawing your backyard plan by hand, don’t fear, I’ve one other answer for you. Seize my free printable plant kind information and you need to use my drawings.

How to Use Printable - 4 Steps

Simply print out a photograph of your backyard mattress, then reduce out the plant kind shapes and transfer them round on the web page. It’s a very enjoyable solution to experiment with completely different backyard mattress layouts.

Coloured Pencils or Markers

Holding a marker to color in the final garden drawing sketch
Use coloured pencils or markers to paint in your drawing. I like the alcohol markers by Prismacolor. Illustration by Fairly Purple Door.

Lastly, you’ll need to have some coloured pencils or markers obtainable so you may add shade to your drawing. Including shade to your drawings can actually show you how to to visualise the house. 

Many panorama designers use alcohol markers by Prismacolor or Copic to paint of their drawings. Some designers even use watercolor paints to paint of their drawings. 

However, you don’t must get that fancy. A easy set of coloured pencils, markers and even crayons shall be high-quality. I’d advocate utilizing what you may have readily available. However, in the event you’re trying to purchase a brand new set or pencils or markers, listed here are some I’d advocate.

  • Prismacolor coloured pencils, 36-count (Purchase on Amazon)
  • Windsor & Newton promarkers, 12-count (Purchase on Amazon). It is a good easy set with lots of the colours you’ll want for drawing landscapes.
  • Prismacolor markers, 24-count (Purchase on Amazon). You may as well purchase these markers individually on-line or in a interest retailer. Typically this is usually a more cost effective choice to get the colours you really want for backyard crops.
  • MeiLiang Watercolor paint set, 36-count (Purchase on Amazon). I even have this watercolor set and I actually like how vibrant the colours are.

4- Draw Easy Shapes & Types

We’re lastly on the drawing step! I hope you’re as excited as I’m to get began! The simplest manner I’ve realized to attract crops is to maintain it easy.

Hand Drawn Plant Forms
All crops may be decreased to a easy kind, akin to mounding, rounded, vase-shaped, horizontal, spikey, weeping, oval, pyramidal and extra. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.

Each plant has a primary kind or form. Some frequent shapes and kinds are: 

  • Mounding
  • Rounded
  • Vase-Formed
  • Horizontal or Spreading
  • Spikey
  • Weeping
  • Oval
  • Pyramidal (& extra)

What’s nice about utilizing easy kinds is that you simply don’t must be an expert artist to attract them!

I like to attract very messy at first. If I just like the drawing, I’ll use one other piece of tracing paper to refine my primary plant kinds even additional. I proceed to do that till I’m pleased with the ultimate drawing.

3 Garden Drawing Sketches on tracing paper from messy to refined to detailed.
Phases of my backyard drawings utilizing tracing paper over a printed photograph. Illustration by Fairly Purple Door.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how “fancy” your drawing appears. So long as it’s clear and simple to grasp, you’re heading in the right direction.

Garden Bed Sketch over Graph Paper
Right here’s one other instance, the place I’ve sketched primary plant kinds on tracing paper positioned over my graph paper. Discover how I attempted to make use of completely different plant kinds to maintain the design fascinating? I began so as to add the names of crops I believe would work on this design… however in the event you’re undecided what crops to make use of but, that’s completely high-quality, too. I’ll present you ways to do that in Step 5. Illustration by Fairly Purple Door.

Simply in case you’re dreading this “sketching” half, I’ve put collectively a free printable plant kind worksheet that you need to use. I’ve drawn all of the plant kinds for you and offer you a wide range of completely different sizes to select from. 

All it’s a must to do is print out the plant kinds and shade them in to fit your wants. You’ll be able to reduce round every of the plant kinds and rearrange them to see how they are going to look in opposition to the photograph you took in step 1. How straightforward and enjoyable is that?

Cut out plant form shapes scattered across the top of a printed house photo
Right here, all of my plant kinds are reduce out and I’m prepared to begin having enjoyable arranging the completely different crops alongside the muse. Seize the free printable right here.

Whether or not you’re drawing out your easy kinds by hand or utilizing the free obtain, listed here are some tricks to just be sure you’re heading in the right direction:

  • Even flowers can have a novel kind and construction that provides curiosity to a design. Like alliums, for instance.
  • Utilizing a number of plant kinds creates curiosity. 
  • Repeat the identical plant kinds to create unity in your design. 
  • Concentrate on the fundamental kinds that match into your environment, moderately than particular crops.
Garden Drawing with arrow pointing to allium flowers
Plant kinds aren’t only for shrubs and perennials. Even flowers can have a novel kind and construction, like these alliums within the drawing. Illustration by Fairly Purple Door.

Nonetheless Caught? Attempt utilizing the Blocking Technique. Under is a brief video for a way this technique works.

Right here’s a fast overview of the blocking technique. You’ll be able to learn extra about it right here.

5- Decide Your Vegetation Final

Have you ever observed that all through all the means of drawing a killer backyard plan, we haven’t even thought a lot about crops? 

So unusual, isn’t it? 

However, choosing the proper crops to your backyard house, whereas it’s necessary, it’s often one of many final steps. Design and planning at all times comes first. 

Though I’m drawing easy shapes and kinds in my plans, I usually have some concept of what crops I need to use in a given design. However, I don’t power crops into my designs, if that is sensible.

Even if in case you have no clue what crops to make use of, that’s okay. When you’ve created a backyard plan with plant kinds that you simply like, you may then analysis crops which can be an analogous measurement and form to what you drew. 

Web sites like Backyard.org will let you analysis crops by all completely different traits that may fit your rising situations and tastes.

Fortunately, there are so many plant choices obtainable to us in each completely different form and measurement. You’ll have loads of crops to select from, so don’t fear about selecting your crops till the tip. Get the backyard plan drawing labored out first!

Wrapping Up

Now that you simply’re aware of my prime 5 suggestions for drawing a killer backyard plan, you may skip the stress of staring anxiously at a clean web page and really benefit from the extremely enjoyable and artistic means of designing your dream backyard!

First, take measurements and get to know the house the place you propose to place your backyard. Take a look at the realm from completely different angles and snap some images of various views. 

Now, sit down with some printer/bond paper or graph paper and use tracing paper to provide you with completely different concepts. I often have some crops in thoughts throughout this course of, however I don’t attempt to power something. Simply draw easy shapes like rounded, oval, pyramidal and spreading. Attempt to distinction the dimensions and shapes of your crops to make it fascinating. If drawing feels too tough for you, seize my printable plant kind worksheet so you may simply reduce out the plant shapes and transfer them across the web page.

After you have the fundamental shapes mapped out, you may then select your crops. Ensure to analysis the entire crops you propose. Use a web site with numerous filters and superior looking out like backyard.org. Select crops that may thrive within the situations that you’ve vs. what you would like you had. And, strive to decide on a number of long-blooming perennials or crops that create curiosity at completely different instances of the 12 months. 

In the event you’re searching for extra help in designing your dream backyard, be sure you take a look at my Design Your 4-Season Backyard Course, the place I’ll take you step-by-step via my very own course of for creating the 4-season backyard plan of your desires.


Store my Amazon storefront for my important gardening books & instrument suggestions!

Extra Backyard Design Posts You’ll Love

5 Steps Infographic to Draw a Garden Layout
Don’t neglect to pin this submit for later. Illustrations by Fairly Purple Door.



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