Gardening Answers

Garden design web programs for amateurs

grasscrazy | Posted in Midwest Gardening on

I am creating a new garden and got ahead of myself by already purchasing plants I love while they were available.  Now I have all these plants to get in the ground and am stymied by how to create this garden.  I want an open, contemporary design focusing on incorporating lots of ornamental grasses.  I have a huge space.
I have two questions:
-Are there online design consultants for zone 4b that would create a design for me using the plants I have already purchased in addition to other plants needed to create the needed flow?  
-Or another potential, is there simple garden planning software easy to use for a novice that you would recommend?


  1. User avater Moderator
    mdwyer | | #1

    Those are two very good questions. Perhaps other readers on this forum will have some thoughts as well.

    While I know there are consultants that will accommodate design recommendations online based on photos, measurements, etc., they should also be provided with information on soil types, available lighting, etc. There are so many other factors (of course) to consider prior to even suggesting plant placement.

    I personally am unaware of garden planning software that comes highly recommended for our specific area. Again, maybe others have some thoughts, but my concern is that most garden software is generated for a wide region of use to it would have to customize sufficiently for zone hardiness and other regional conditions.

    When I've accumulated plants late in the season with no plan for them (as of yet), I sink the pots in the ground (perennials and woodies) to overwinter them for later relocation in the spring...they're ready to go!

  2. grasscrazy | | #2

    Thank you for your response. Yes, there are so many considerations with sun, soil, moisture, etc that it is a difficult job picking the right plant for the right place. I have just put all the plants in the ground in a "holding nursery" for the time being.
    I am at a
    loss to finding the right landscaping professional that is not focused on a formal design. Even though I provided an extensive explanation of what I was looking for with a previous designer I was still provided a formal design packed with perennials I wasn't interested in.
    If anyone in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area has suggestions on designers comfortable with contemporary designs focusing on ornamental grasses I would love to know.
    Thank you.

    1. User avater Moderator
      Plantswoman | | #4

      As a designer it is important that I listen to my client. Interviewing designers in your area should be very in depth before you hire them. Ask to see photos of designs that they have done that you would respond favorably to. Grasses make a wonderful garden and have interest all year long. It is easier to choose a designer that is able to work in your garden (area) so there is good knowledge of zone, exposure, soils, and pest challenges that an out-of-area designer would not know.

      1. grasscrazy | | #6

        Excellent advice, thank you.

        1. User avater Moderator
          Plantswoman | | #7

          You're welcome! Hope it turns out wonderful!

  3. gardendevas | | #3

    Sounds like you may want something more naturalistic, perhaps. You could look into the work of Piet Oudolf for gorgeous naturalistic design inspiration. He recently designed the Belle Isle garden in Detroit area. Also, I know they are the “other guys”, but Garden Design is offering an upcoming seminar on “new naturalism” by Kelly Norris. There are plenty of others doing great naturalist design work now, you might do some web searches focused on that. Instagram is also a wealth of inspiration. There is an Australian designer, Kurt Wilkinson on Instagram who does absolutely stunning naturalistic work.

    1. grasscrazy | | #5

      Ironically, I have read and own four of Piet Oudouf's co-authored books and his work has definitely inspired me. I was not aware of the Garden Design site you mentioned so I will look into that. Since I have a good idea of what I am seeking perhaps I can make it happen with the proper guidance. Also, I have never really looked at Instagram so that is a wonderful idea to pursue. I will look up the people you reference. Thank you for taking the time to write.

      1. User avater Moderator
        mdwyer | | #8

        Great advice from gardendevas! I would add following the work of Kelly Norris, Austin Eischeid and Adam Woodruff. No shortage of ideas to be sure but many of their larger installations can be "extrapolated" into small spaces with the idea of color, texture, form and movement all still intact!

  4. yisox | | #9

    While I don’t have specific information about consultants in your area, you can explore platforms like Upwork or Toptal. These platforms connect you with freelance web design consultants who can help you create a garden design based on your existing plants and preferences.
    Additionally, consider reaching out to local horticultural societies or landscape architects who specialize in your climate zone (Zone 4b). They may offer design services or recommendations.

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