It is Spring in Montana, or at least on the calendar it is. This is the first year since my two sons came along that I will be able to get back to large outdoor projects. The winter months were spent looking out the windows of our home, dreaming of finishing what I had planned years ago.
My wife's grandparents had raised the bar high with a beautiful estate that they nurtured for decades. Now my goals are not as ambitious, nor luxurious, but I do have an appreciation for dense, well planned landscaping. Considering the age of our neighborhood and the surrounding properties, I chose a multi-stage approach to integrating the new work with into its context. One benefit to this approach, is a staggered growth cycle that looks more natural than having five trees that are the exact same height. This year's construction includes the extension of an existing rock bed in our backyard.
We wrestled with this project for awhile and needed help visualizing the end product. The sketch above is rudimentary and seems deceptively simple, but this is the seventh rendering for the site. The crucial part of this sketch was acquiring an aerial photo of our property. Many years ago, before drones came along, this was an expensive proposition. Thanks to satellite imaging from search engine maps, I was able to get an image that was "good enough" for our purposes.
In order to recreate an accurate, workable plan, I used drawing software that allowed me to set architecture scale and import raster images. I took several measurements of the existing river rock bed and then used these real world dimensions to scale up the drawing to full size.
Using basic, vector drawing tools I was able to play with the bed's perimeter shape many times over, generating several drawings for comparison. This is not always necessary, but can be greatly helpful when trying to share visual ideas with others. The detailed plan gave me confidence to hit the ground running with a layout for new trees and a precise starting point as well.