This topic comes up with regularity on every gardening chat room or forum I
have been acquainted with and the consensus is that no home landscape design
software is particularly good. All seem to have various degrees of
unsuitablility, ranging from difficult to use, inadequate plant selection,
inability to project maturing landscape images or even incorporate actual
photos of your property. Most professionals, myself included, avoid them all
like the plague, unless one has the funds and equipment to support a really
good professional product like autocad.
Pencil and paper are generally suggested as the best way to go and you can
get help to develop your own drawn design plan through any number of home
landscaping how-to books. One that I have found to be useful and have
recommended before is Ortho's Creative Home Landscaping.. It will take you
through all the steps on how to measure and analyze your property for
various landscape considerations, layout the design on graph paper using
basic design elements and select appropriate plants. It also gives some
pretty good basic info on implementing the design and basic landscape
An alternative is hiring a landscape designer to develop the plan for you to
implement yourself as time and money permit. Obviously some larger jobs may
need to to be contracted out, but the majority of work involved in
implementing a new landscape design is simple labor, which pretty much any
homeowmer can accomplish. A designer is a very reasonable investment to make
for the landscape of a new home - considering the effort and expense that
goes into new construction, why skimp when it comes to the landscape?
pam - gardengal
For the plants themselves, and if you have shade, buy "The Complete Shade
Gardener", by George Schenk. I have no tips on a specific landscaping book,
though. Generally, I think it's a matter of gathering ideas from various
sources, and walking/biking a lot. That slows you down so you can pick up
ideas from other gardens. A few times, I've seen plants I liked, but
couldn't identify, and left a note and my phone number in someone's mailbox.
I've always gotten calls from the gardeners, who were happy to share
I bought several landscaping software packages and they all suck.
Check with your county agricultural extension Service and see if they
have a Master Gardener program. Master Gardeners have landscape
training, provide free advice, and are generally eager to help.
Master Gardeners DO NOT have landscape training. They have some cursory
horticultural training that enables them to be able to answer some very
basic home gardening questions, but they have no formal training in
landscape design. If you want or need professional advice, go to a
professional, not a hobby gardener with limited skills and training and a
committment to volunteer in return for this basic training.
pam - gardengal
Pam, you're biased and full of it. I am a Master Gardener and I DID
receive landscape training from the same college professors who teach
it in college. Granted, not to the same degree as a professional
landscaper, but certainly enough training to give good advice to the
average homeowner. And training is just the beginning - all that
volunteer time you are ridiculing adds up to a hell of a lot of
Sounds like you don't like the competition.
On the other hand, landscaping is art. An artist commissioned to paint a
mural on a building may choose the wrong paint and it may wash off, but
before that happens, the picture may be terrific. A landscaper who chooses
the wrong plants may still make a design which looks great until some of the
plants die. So, a homeowner with no training could very well come up with a
good design with the wrong plants.
I don't disagree at all. But there are many professional landscapers
on a limited budget who will knowlingly put out inferior plants they
wouldn't use in their own yard just to stay within budget. I can show
you whole neighborhoods like that. The average homeowner needs to be
enlightened about which plants do/do not grow well in their
communities. Most Master Gardeners have that knowledge and are willing
to share it. I never said they could landscape like a professional,
but I did say they have the training and knowledge to let the average
homeowner make knowledgeable decisions.
On 11 Jul 2004 08:00:35 -0700, email@example.com (Bob S.) wrote:
I believe Master Gardener programs vary in content and quality, just
as Extension offices do. There is no standard. 40-50 hours of training
is obviously not the equivalent of a degree program or a thorough
apprenticeship. Some programs may be excellent, and as we know from
rec.gardens, much good advice can be had from 'unofficial' sources.
I think Pam is wrong in her generic condemnation, just as Bob is wrong
in his generic praise. *I*, on the other hand, am correct in regarding
these programs as something worth looking into, just as seeking advice
from local garden centers, neighbors, or paying for profressional
expertise may benefit the OP. :-)
To the OP, there is no one book and virtually no non-professional
(i.e., expensive) software that will tell you how to landscape a new
home. There are *good* gardening and landscaping references, but this
is a highly subjective area. It's rather like asking for a "really
good" book on art.
Walk or bike in neighborhoods with established landscapes, take digital
photos, identify the plants and seek the ones you want. Of course,
plant the right plant in the right place - natives are excellent because
of durability, wildlife friendliness and drought tolerant. Disease
resisitant and bio-diverse, too.
Some of the native societies in NY:
Long Island Botanical
New York Flora Assoc
Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
I agree with others about the dismal state of the available
Things don't grow as fast in NY as they do here in NC. Still,
you'll save a lot of problems if you note the expected mature
size of woody plants (trees & shrubs) you're putting in and
leave enough space between them for them to grow. The plants
will be healthier, they will look better as they grow, you
won't need to prune as much, and you won't have plants growing
into your house. That one tip will eliminate 75% of the
problems I see when I look at landscaping.
If the spaces between plants look too large at first, you can
plant perennials between them to fill the space. In general,
perennials are are easy to take out or move as the woody
plants grow larger.
The second most important issue is to put plants where their
sun and shade requirements are met.
An excellent book on woody plants is "Dirr's Hardy Trees and
Shrubs." That won't help with design layout, but it does have
pictures of a wide selection of plants suitable to your area.
Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a)
(Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
For most landscaping and backyard needs, I would suggest wondering
through the website
They have many fun and fascinating things, eager to answer questions,
and are very helpful.
I hope this helps,
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