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Create Your Own Lovely Garden Design

For those of us who love to garden, garden design is a subject near and dear to our hearts. When the winter months deprive you of the chance to roll up your sleeves and dig some dirt or tend the flowers, nothing can stop you from poring through the seed and plant catalogs, dreaming of spring. Plans to put in a cutting bed or create a mini-field of perennial wildflowers dance in your head like sugarplums, full of fun and promise. Without a cohesive plan for your planting adventures, you may end up with a garden design that's not as pleasing as you'd like.

Winter is a great time to work on sprucing up your existing garden and fine-tuning an overall design. After all, what else is there to do? 

The fun part of designing a garden is constructing your wishlist of plants, from shrubs to vegetables - and beyond, of course! Remember, you don't need to do it all this year. Gardening is somewhat like a great marriage. It's a lifelong love. So when you put your list of projects to paper, think long term. Don't hesitate to include your ideal plants, garden ornamentation, brick pathway, or the massive display of spring bulbs giving way to summer perennials.

The old way of garden design required graph paper, a sharp pencil, plenty of patience and excellent visualization skills. Although some gardeners still prefer this method, you can have a lot of fun creating your garden design with any number of excellent software packages that are available now.

There is some manual labor involved. You do need to measure the dimensions of your garden area. Once that's accomplished, you're ready to sit down and create a visual representation of your dream garden design.

Garden design software comes with databases of plant images and characteristics, organized in categories. Choose your gardening zone, plant type, exposure and soil requirements to select those suited to your plot and taste. Such software lets you virtually install your brick pathway and plant a perimeter of annuals. You'll see how many plants are required for the allotted space and how they'll look at planting time as well as in midsummer. How about a shade tree to eventually cool your southern facing kitchen? Select your tree and plant it. See how much cooling cover it provides three or five or ten years from now. The software calculates the distance of the tree from your house that's  required to keep your foundation intact 20 years from now. Marvelous! The visuals provided by such garden design software are inspiring and accurate representations of what you may expect of your design, both in the short and long term.

The best thing about garden design software is that if you decide you don't care for the looks of an area, you just do it over - on your computer! You can also make as many garden designs as you wish. It's a lovely way to spend some winter's eves!

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