I’ve been scouring landscaping ideas for our mediterranean climate and have found some great ideas ranging from darling succulents (like hens and chicks) to drought tolerant ground cover choices and beautiful, flowering herbs. Of course, Pinterest has gorgeous photos of gardens, but a lot of times they don’t link to a “how to” article. So, left to do my own research on how to create a great garden without ending up with a complete mess, I found a few sites that help sketch out what an ideal garden or landscape might look like beforehand.

Overhead view – initial flow

I came across a website called Paper Garden Workshop that focuses on the skeleton of a garden using sketches. It’s a great way to decide how you want your landscaping to flow; curvey, boxy, or a mixture of the two. Much of Lisa’s site focuses on the “how-to’s” of sketching garden designs, but she also has some garden doodle sheets for download to get you started.

Lisa Orgler paper gardens doodle example.

Lisa Orgler paper gardens doodle example.

If you can’t draw or doodle, or just don’t have the time, there’s an online planner you can try. On a side note, I used to love the Better Homes and Garden’s (BHG) garden planner, but they’ve changed their program and it is very different than it once was. But, if you’re looking for an online planner that allows you to design a garden from an aerial perspective, Garden Planner Online is a good site that’s similar to the old BHG planner. It’s not quite as easy as the old BHG planner, but it at least can give you an idea of where to place plants and other garden features.

Eyelevel view

Once you have an idea of how you want to layout your yard or garden, the next step is looking at it at eye level. Here’s where the new BHG garden planner can help. The new garden planner has preset house sketches at eye level to choose from. Then, you can drag and drop plants and structures. The only drawback is that some objects are not available until you purchase the upgraded planner for ten bucks.

BHG garden planner

BHG garden planner

However, if you have any Photoshop skills, you can always do this yourself. Just Google search plant images in png format for plants without backgrounds, then place them on your own photo. The only tricky part is getting the scaling of the plant correct compared to your space.

Plant choices

Before you actually plant anything, it’s a good idea to know what growing zone you live in. Our soon-to-be new house is in zone 10a, which is very similar to a mediterranean climate. Since I don’t want to spend a lot of money on plants that just won’t survive in our very dry climate, or that will require a lot of care and maintenance, I’m sticking to zone-friendly plants. If you’re not sure which zone you live in, check out this USDA zone finder site. Just type in your zip code and it will tell you your growing zone (primarily based on how cold your region gets.) Our local department of water and power also has a plant guide to help us decide which plants grow well in our climate. I also started searching websites of landscaping companies in my area, like Roger’s Gardens Landscaping. He has some beautiful photos of gardens he’s designed that gave me some great ideas.

plants that actually grow in our zone.

plants that actually grow in our zone.

Observation

Thoughout the process of building our manufactured home, we’ve discussed our outdoor area thoroughly. We spend a lot of time outside and want to incorporate the small areas we have to work with into our living space. So we’ve been getting a lot of inspiration and tips in the form of observing neighborhood yards. We’ve talked a lot about what we like (i.e. different textures, colors, and borders) and what we don’t like (too much gravel, all one-color gravel, no borders separating textures, etc.) and had plenty of time to weigh the benefits of different types of landscaping.

From all that data gathering, we know we want a low-maintenance yard with textures, borders, and easy-to-maintain plants that are drought-tolerant. Obviously, we aren’t going to be putting in a lawn since our yard is so small and it’s a waste of water for our area. And, we don’t want a yard made purely of rock or gravel.  We’re working on a design that incorporates a few different textures, plants, and ground cover. We hope to start the landscaping by the end of this year. I’ll post photos as we go.

Have you recently landscaped your yard? Did you find that consulting with a professional or doing a lot of research helped?