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Now that you’re sure where everything in your new landscape will be, it’s time to get a little more specific.

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The Deck Design concept

A design concept includes every decision you’ve made about your landscape—for example, where you intend to add shade, wind protection, privacy, or overhead shelter. In one way it is the final bubble diagram— with instructions—and these instructions will be the key to drawing your master plan.

Note the differences between a concept diagram and a bubble plan. The design concept tells you specifically what you need to build or add to accomplish the goals you’ve set out in earlier plans. To make a design concept, trace your house and property on a fresh sheet of paper and write descriptions of plantings and construction.

The Master Plan

Lay a piece of tracing paper over your base map and trace the outlines of your house and other existing features. Now make rough drawings of the new structures you will build, using your bubble diagrams to help you decide where everything will go.

STRUCTURES FIRST: Start with the structural elements—the parking areas, landings, and pathways. Designers call this hardscape. Play with different shapes and lines, but keep the basic configurations to scale.

There’s still time to explore some ideas freely. If a square-cornered deck doesn’t look just right—or if it won’t quite fit the space— round the corners. If a straight walk to your goldfish pond is too direct or needs to follow the contours of the land, bend it. This is still a time for experimentation; things are easy to change on paper.

PLANTS AND TREES: Once you draw in the hardscape, add lawn and planting areas with their bed lines. Because they are used as separations, bed lines shape two adjacent spaces at one time. You can make them formal and geometric or curve them with a flowing informality.

Next sketch circles to represent any trees you plan to plant, referring to your design concept to remind you of any view you want to frame or areas that need privacy or shade. Finally, put labels on your renderings and include the rooms of your home. Make one last check of the relationship each area has with the interior of your home. You may have forgotten that you had planned to remove a tree to open up a view or add high shrubbery to make an interior room more private.

A Walk-Through

Now take your plan outside and walk it through your property. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

  1. Are all the access routes workable?
  2. Have you accounted for screening?
  3. Do the axis lines call attention to the desired focal points?
  4. Can you move a structure within your plan to a spot where you won’t have to excavate— without botching the rest of your design?

Even if you intend to build your landscape in stages over a period of years, the master plan will keep your design unified, both now and in the future.

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