Formal or informal

Beds that are symmetrical or have angles are perceived as formal, while asymmetrical or curvilinear beds have an infor­mal appearance. Even numbers of plants generally have a for­mal appearance, and odd numbers of plants tend to be infor­mal. However, the same number of plants can appear either informal or formal, depending on their arrangement. See Figure 27.

Figure 27. In general, even quantities of plants create a formal appear­ance, while odd numbers of plants produce an informal effect. However, the same number of plants can be arranged to provide either a formal (top row) or informal (bottom row) appearance. Image and planting symbols by Pat Drackett.

Outlining the planting beds

The geometry of some beds will be dictated by the shape of your residence and adjacent hard surfaces, such as walks, drive, retaining walls, etc., as well as by the style of your land­scape theme. Formal plans composed of architectural shapes and straight lines will require more frequent maintenance to maintain than informal plans composed of naturalistic land­scaping and curvilinear beds.

Clean bed lines give your property a fresh, finished appear­ance (Figure 28).

Bed edging, such as paver stone or brick, coordinated to your home or other paved surfaces, adds structure to your landscape. Leave enough room along the edge of beds for plants to grow to the width of the beds.

Planning for lawn maintenance

Design bed edges next to lawn areas with gentle, gradual curves that are easy for lawnmowers to navigate (Figure 29). Lawns should be accessible and wide enough to allow your mower to pass or turn.

Bed width

Wide planting beds are not easy to access. You can design a pathway that passes through the bed to provide an attractive and practical landscape feature. Garden ornaments, such as sculptures, environmental art, fountains, or birdbaths can be added along the path. Pathways can be paved brick, natural flagstones, or simply a linear gap in the plantings, allowing for ease of passage and maintenance.

Section Three: Locating the plants on the plan

1. Preparing to draw the planting plan

You can create your planting plan on a sheet of tracing paper that has been taped over the base map. Corrections are easier to make on tracing paper than on graph paper. Plant symbols can be drawn lightly in pencil. Once you complete your plant­ing plan, darken the edges of plant groupings, major trees, and accent plants to give them more visual definition.

2. Drawing planting symbols

Symbols of plants can be drawn on your plan by using a cir­cle template, which contains a variety of sizes of circles. These templates can be found in the drafting section of most office supply stores. To determine the size of circle to use, for exam­ple, if your base map has been drawn at a scale of 1 inch = 10 feet (using an engineer’s scale), and the mature size of your plant is about 5 feet, select a circle that measures half an inch (5/io, or.5 inch, according to the scale) in diameter. Correspondingly, you would use a circle measuring V5 of an inch (2/io, or.2 inch) for groundcover that measures 2 feet across. A small accent tree may measure 10 to 15 feet or more in width, depending on the species, so you would choose a corresponding symbol width to represent the mature tree. Keep in mind that the thickness of your pencil lead can affect the width of your drawn symbol. Therefore, while you are cre­ating your planting plan, it is a good idea to check symbol widths from time to time on a scrap piece of paper.

Planting symbols can be simple circles, or you may choose to modify them to depict certain characteristics of the plants they represent (Figure 30).

Deciduous plants may be shown as having a branched appearance. Evergreens with needles can be drawn with sharp edges, while symbols for broadleaf evergreens may have rounded edges. Symbols for accent plants can be drawn to reflect their specific textures. You may wish to practice draw­ing planting symbols before you place them on your plan. Think about how you can depict each plant through a symbol that will be recognizable when you refer to the plan.