Stuck trying to figure out where your garden or balcony needs work? Think you have a great design idea? Marking up garden photos helps you design and plan.
When you are spending time in your garden (which I hope you are), you become very familiar with it. To the point where everything just blends together and you really can’t see where the trouble spots are.
Maybe the only time you realize something is wrong is when you have someone visiting and they dare to give you constructive feedback.
Or you have some great design ideas that you want to plan out to see if they will work.
So here’s a thought. Take a photo, open it in your favourite photo editor or print it out and then go to town marking it up with changes that you want to make.
Don’t be surprised when you get that wave of inspiration and finally overcome your mental block that is keeping you from transforming your outdoor space into a tranquil garden!
Step 1: Take a bunch of photos
They don’t have to be award-winning. Really we are talking about simple snapshots.
Just make sure the lighting is decent, they are relatively sharp and you capture the area and the features that you want to work on.
You may need to take more than one photo. Panoramic photos are good but if you are printing them out, they are harder to handle.
Here’s my example photo of a place in my garden where I plan to do some work to improve the space.
Step 2: Prepare the photos
You have a choice:
- print out the photo and use pens and markers
- open it up on your computer or tablet and use a photo editor. Even better if you have a stylus.
It’s entirely up to you. I prefer dealing with the photo electronically as I can try out multiple ideas and easily erase them or save them as various versions. And then easy to email them to others for their feedback.
If you print them out you might want to print multiple copies or even better, use tracing paper as an overlay where you can scribble your ideas.
Step 3: Start marking up photos
Now for the really fun part: you get to doodle, scribble and make notes right on your photos. Maybe takes you back to your childhood and your crayon or coloured pencil box.
Here are some ideas of what notations you may want to make:
- Circle any problem areas – maybe there is a large weed, a broken sprinkler head, a dead branch that needs to be attended to (in my case a few sprinkler heads that are eyesores, which will need to be shortened and possibly drip-irrigation installed, an electrical box for the pond pump that I need to find a way to hide and rocks and pavers I need to remove)
- Sketch in new features – you can get quite fancy here and be really detailed or just some representative outline or even text; alternatively if you are as detailed-oriented as I am, you can paste in an actual image (I was lazy in this case and just drew a concrete lantern in black which will come from a different place in the garden)
- Move plants or other objects – you can either cross things off and redraw them elsewhere or even easier just draw an arrow showing where it will be moved to (the Buddha statue circled in green with an arrow showing where it will be moved to)
Here’s my photo after marking it up:
You can probably think of other things that you want to note on the photo. Have fun marking up garden photos.
Step 4: Use the marked up photo
Okay, so now that you have a nicely marked up photo, what can you do with it?
- show it to your significant other and see if they like what you are planning to do; or even better collaborate on the marking up together
- show it to your landscape contractor or other expert so they have an idea of what you are trying to accomplish and can better quote you on the job if you’re not going to do it yourself
- take it to your local nursery to get some advice on what plants you should buy for the space based on your design for it
- post it on social media to get feedback from others of what you are proposing to do or to get ideas of what to do – I see this quite often in the Facebook gardening groups I am a member of
- oh, and don’t forget to actually follow through on all the things you marked up! Use the photo as your todo list, shopping list and motivation to get things done
Hopefully now you can see the power of marking up garden photos. The steps are simple, but the results will be amazing. Use the technique you most feel comfortable with, either printing the photos out and drawing on them with traditional writing implements or go completely digital like I do and mark up the photos with software. You’ll get a visual guide that you can then follow to transform your outdoor space into a tranquil garden.
So grab your camera or phone and start snapping some photos today to mark up. You’ll be glad you did!
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC