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How to Draw Landscape Design Plans

Drawing Bubble Diagrams

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Remember the tracing paper you bought when you picked up supplies, as discussed on Page 2? It’s here, in Phase 2 of drawing landscape design plans, that you’ll begin to put it to use. Phase 2 entails the drawing of an intermediate landscape design plan, called the “bubble diagram.”

How to Draw Landscape Design Plans, Phase 2: The Bubble Diagram

First, place a sheet of tracing paper over the completed scale diagram. Because the tracing paper allows you to see through down to the scale diagram, you can simply copy its contents, without the grid lines of the graph paper, onto the tracing paper. It’s enough that you can still see the grid lines underneath; they’ll guide your drawing in Phase 2.

So you have a copy of the scale diagram, traced onto the tracing paper. No big deal so far, right? But this copy is only the beginning. Now it’s time to make use of the “free spaces” in your yard, as indicated by your earlier measurements and drawing. For instance, if you have an area in between the house and the shed that’s not occupied by another element that will be in the final landscape design plan, this is the time to indicate the desired use for this space.

Delimit the space on the tracing paper by drawing a circular or oblong shape (the straight edges of squares and rectangles are generally avoided in landscape design, unless your goal is a formal landscape design). Thus the name of the drawing of Phase 2: by the time you’re done, it looks like you have a bunch of bubbles on the tracing paper. Label the shape you just drew as whatever you wish it to be (lawn area, ground cover, patio, water feature, planting bed, etc.), according to its function in your landscape design plan (work area, play area, garden, etc.) Then move on to another free space and do the same. Areas in between the “bubbles” will generally be driveways, paths, or small lawn areas essentially serving as paths – i.e., your means of navigation between the bubbles. Label them as such.

This link takes you to an example showing what bubble diagrams look like.

Don’t expect to complete the finalized version of the bubble diagram immediately. You’ll find yourself rejecting some of the bubbles as you go along, for whatever reason (e.g., insufficient space). No problem. Just get another piece of tracing paper and revise your initial drawing.

Before settling on a final bubble diagram, concretize the project in any way you can, to see what will work and what won’t. Here’s where stakes and string may come in handy again. Pound stakes into the ground around one of the spaces you’ve tentatively defined in the bubble diagram. Tie string to these stakes. Repeat the process for the other “bubble” spaces. Now walk in between these spaces, noting the flow of traffic patterns. Does your layout of the spaces still make sense? Have you used the spaces as effectively as possible? Do you find one of the paths meandering too much, when it should instead be making a beeline from point A to point B?

When you change your mind on any of the spaces, adjust the stakes and string accordingly. When you’ve finished, take final measurements for these spaces. You’re now ready to go back to the scale diagram and incorporate these final measurements, thus transforming the scale diagram into the final landscape design plan, as we'll see on Page 5....

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