Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Planning with The Grid.

The Grid a tool--and not all tools are the best tool for the job.

Both John Brookes and Rosemary Alexander, and even, in a different way, Gordon Hayward recommend and explain this approach. Alexander recommends you draw up three plans: one based on circles, one on squares (or straight lines) and one using the grid on the diagonal and choose among them.

They promise that this will integrates the house with the land. Sounds like a good idea, right?

It seems simple enough:

1) establish a dimension for the grid square from the features on your house. (Window 8 feet? Make the square 8'x 8'.) One can subdivide it (into, say, 4'x4') or double and even triple it as one gets further away from the house.) It can be established from an "ell." It can be established from the spaces between repeating windows or doors, or the dimensions of a bay window.

2) draw the grid on tracing paper and place it over the scale plan of the area you're working with. Squares are preferred to rectangles. It makes drawing circles easier.

3) develop shapes based on the grid, play around until you've got something interesting, but still simple, and draw them on another piece of tracing paper placed over the previous two--and there you have a layout for your yard.

However, I'm having a hard time making it work.

I don't know if it is because 1) I haven't picked the "right" dimension, 2) I'm not drawing interesting shapes, or 3) whether the "tool" is inappropriate, for me, at this time.

One reason may be that my house has no "ells", no bay windows and is sorely lacking any pleasing repeating elements. The centre of the house is also just at the left side of the front steps. Someone suggested I simply draw a plan using 2' increments and not really worry about the grid at all. When I did, this is what I came up with:

Actually, I drew several unpublishable "plans"--this particular one was taken from a sketch I did weeks ago. The big tree on the right is my neighbour's Birch.

I really haven't a clue what I'm doing.


drwende said...

The central problem may be that you prefer symmetry, but you have an asymmetric house. Any grid you center on the house is going to be "off."

I don't have a solution, though.

Janel said...

I don't know how I ended up at your blog this morning, but your garden therapy has inspired me. I read the whole thing. Thanks!

I've inherited huge perennial gardens with the last two house purchases we've made. I've struggled to keep them looking something other than dead and/or in desperate need of care.

Our current house was tended by a professional landscape company - the owner's boyfriend - from first planting to sale. UGH!!! It looks far from professionally tended after 3 years of me. I do annuals and food - and darn little of that.

So all that said, I am a web designer and understand spacing! lol I agree with drwende when she says you're trying to be symetrical and the house is asymetrical. I would try to play with more sweeping or messy S shapes instead of a plain half circle.

Again, thanks. Although I've hated to put work into "our" gardens because we don't plan to stay here, I might try to make the gardens more my own. In any case, I'll be back to watch your progress! :)

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