The Long-Term Backyard Plan

Brandon bought an Eastern Redbud for me from our local nursery! It’s my favorite tree, and mine will be delivered on August 29.

I’d like the tree to be a part of a larger planting area. I want it to be surrounded by bushes and flowers and not just plunked in the middle of the yard, but the spot that I did want it in (near the patio) has an electrical wire running directly underneath. So I did what I often do when I need to think… I sketched.

Long-Term Backyard Plan

I reworked the sketch into two cleaned up and colored versions. One shows the backyard as it is now, and the other shows the expanded garden version:

Long-Term Backyard Plan

The two large purple/pink circles are Eastern Redbud trees (the neighbor has one that leans over our fence). As for the rest of the garden, I’m not entirely sure which plants I’ll be using but it feels good to have some direction.

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  • samantha
    August 6, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    hey nicole, unless you really, really love the lawn and need it for little ones running around, consider breaking it up a little more into some living areas including an outdoor fire place/pit with some living screens or an outdoor sleeping veranda, etc. the possibilities are vast and exciting. you are way too talented a designer to settle for a squared off backyard.

    just my thoughts,

  • Chicaholic
    August 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    That is one pretty tree…I have never seen those before and I’m wondering if perhaps they are native to a certain area not including California? We have a willow tree that I LOVE to just sit under and relax.

    Congrats on the tree!

  • Making it Lovely
    August 6, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Samantha, we have Murray (our dog) and we’re hoping to have a little one soon… so that’s why there’s so much lawn!

  • jessica
    August 6, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I noticed that you worked the woven egg chair into the expanded sketch! I really like the expanded version and think that leaving some large open space is a great idea since you have a dog. If it were my yard, I’d leave a good sized doggy play area and fill the rest up with veggies — not sure how interested you are in growing your own food though! Good luck, I’ll be interested to see how the yard comes together!

  • Liz
    August 6, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Love it!

    It is balanced and has great color.

    Btw, are you using illustrator or photoshop for sketching?

  • michelle
    August 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I love redbud, once all of the flowers are gone you are left with big red heart shaped leaves so you get three seasons of beautiful. Maybe you should consider flowering dogwood to go with your redbud.

    chicaholic, redbuds are definitely native to the us, not sure about California though. I quick search found that they grow in hardness zones 4 – 9 so they would definitely be happy there.

  • Stacy
    August 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Oh, cute! I want to make a cute watercolor of my backyard plants now! And I agree, it feels good have some sort of direction even if you change it a little in the long run – you still have somewhere to start.

  • Lora
    August 6, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    A suggestion for the remainder of your plantings… go to your local nursery that you like and see if they have anyone who will come out to your house and draw up some landscaping plans for you. Our guy only charged us $40 for an hour of drawing and it is the single best money we have spent on our money pit. The person should take into account your preferences for color/maintenance/future size, etc. and will make recommendations accordingly. We got fairly detailed drawings of all three of our planting areas that included the trees/bushes/plants we wanted to keep as well as the placement and names of all the new stuff we were going to add. I have saved the crinkly drawings so that I know what is where and can easily replace something when/if it dies…truly, the best investment I’ve ever made in my years of homeownership.

  • megan
    August 6, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    that is one gorgeous tree.

  • Jennifer
    August 6, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Lora has a great suggestion. My parents did the same thing when they moved into a new house several years ago. The nursery gave them credit in the amount that the landscaping plan cost.

  • elizabeth
    August 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Talk to the tree guy at the nursery and ask him when the optimum time for planting your tree is. Most trees do best if you plant the root ball in the fall. If you can wait it also means the nursery can be the one watering, what could be depending on your weather, multiple times in a day.

  • Erin
    August 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    I love the Eastern Redbud. Question: Does Murray, um…eliminate in the grass or do you have a special spot that he goes? We’ve been struggling with keeping our lawn looking good because our two dogs are creating dead spots because of where they…go. Does anyone have any good ideas?

  • M&Co
    August 6, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Beautiful garden plan, and what a cute husband to buy you that tree!!

  • patricia
    August 7, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Planting a tree is a wonderful way to earmark a time. When my brother was little my parents planted a “Blue Spruce” and now that tree towers over him. It is amazing to see all the changes of the seasons and the years.
    Love you sketch, looks like a soothing oasis.

  • michelle
    August 7, 2008 at 7:44 am

    erin, there are products like these supplements: http://www.terrificpets.com/pet_supplies/dog/travel-outdoors/lawn-care/ that are supposed to eliminate the problem of dog urine turning the grass yellow. I haven’t tried any yet so I can’t speak to thier effectiveness.

  • Making it Lovely
    August 7, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Liz, I used Illustrator for the cleaned up sketch.

    Murray is indeed killing the grass. He tends to go in the area right at the base of the stairs. We don’t really have grass in the backyard though… It’s about 50 percent actual grass and 50 percent green groundcover weeds that give the appearance of grass.

    I have been having the nursery help me a lot. I like researching things myself though and trying to figure out what to put where – I’ve really been enjoying the planning process.

  • Darren
    August 11, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Love the tree Nicole and the whole plan, We have been working on the yard here…very slowly and you inspired me to make the plan a bit more concrete…because we are in Australia and the water restrictions mean we cant water at all unless it is with rain water, so we are planting all natives…besides being water friendly we have so many types of birds in the yard it fantastic.

    I cant wait to see your finished garden…and what happened with your stair case? I cant wait to see that too!!!

  • Leah
    August 20, 2008 at 6:45 am

    I agree with Lora.
    We went to a landscaping company and their landscape architect drew up plans for our front yard for FREE! We just bought some stone from them. His drawings were frame-worthy and he gave suggestions I hadn’t thought of. He focused on the non-fun stuff like drainage and soil temperature. I tend to forget that stuff, my mind going soley toward, color, texture, form.
    Lu-huv the red-bud. they self-sow here in Iowa. giving you free baby trees. bonus!

  • Cynthia
    June 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    How do you do these nice sketches of your lot? Do you measure the boundaries first, and then draw it to scale? Or is it an estimate? My husband and I bought this old house in a nice neighborhood and completely remodeled the inside. But the outside has really bad curb appeal. The house placement is so odd on the lot that I can’t even see how I can make it nice. But again, the neighborhood and surroundings are lovely and the price was right. Now, I’m trying to do some drawings of ideas for the front of the house, including a potential porch, walkway, lighting, etc… but I don’t know how to make it to scale which makes it hard to see what it will look like. Just wondering if you could share how you make your lovely drawing plans. I’d like to put together a master plan of what I hope the house can look like and slowly work on bits and pieces as finances and time permits. Thank you!