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Home Landscaping Ideas: Building a Storyboard

How To Develop A Storyboard for your Landscape Project

Turning ideas into a buildable vision takes organization. By collecting inspiration you will begin to hone your ideas into a cohesive narrative.

The design process always starts with a vision.

The design process is sure to feel overwhelming when ideas are crashing up against development questions and budget concerns. It is important to build the vision without clouding the process up with questions like...
  • "Gee, how do I build this?" 
  • "OMG how much is this going to cost?"

Trying to decide how you will build a project before you have laid out the details of the project is like deciding to make dinner without a menu. There are no ingredients to purchase or to put together in the kitchen!

Trying to budget without some level of design is like trying to price out a roofing project without the house.There is nothing to support the effort. There is no scope to price!

Skipping the design process is a sure fire way to suffer from poor construction or over-spending.

We are going to use a real project that I am dreaming about. Now that my home renovation is complete, I need a patio! And while I have an idea...I still need the vision.

Step One - Create a loose storyboard

My example here tells you very quickly what I like, what I am drawn to, and illustrates my aesthetic leanings - a very important first step in design. Comb through magazines and the internet to find images that speak to you. Don't organize yet...just clip and print until you have about 12 -18 images. Also, be sure not to judge yourself or analyze your selections. Just follow your instincts and attractions in this step.

Home landscaping ideas, sotry board


Step two - list your NEEDS, WANTS and WISHES.

  • NEEDS - Must have items that you feel you need now. A non-negotiable that all financial decision makers agree upon. There is often a sence of urgency around needs.
  • WANTS - Decision makers are pretty clear on these features, but would consider options and would wait and phase the feature in. Some difference exist in opinion about materials, location or timing. There are often strong emotional yearnings for these features.
  • WISHES - Reserve this catagory for items that feel too expensive, too wimsical, or may be hard to incorporate. Decision makers may totall disagree on value of the items in this catagory. These items are the ones that you know have some frivolity, but they make you joyful when you think about them.

patio seating-outdoor livingStep three - organize your images so that they respond to the needs, wants, and wishes you outlined in step two.

My patio NEEDS - it should be big enough for a 6 or 8 person table, grill, fire or water feature, planters, bird feeders - my husband, Chris, and I are in agreement here.

I culled the images from my inspiration collection above. You will notice that there is still a great deal of variance in materials, but the "feel" of each of these images is similar - cozy, inimate setting, and very gardeny (if that is even a word).

patio paving patterns-stone styleMy patio WANTS - Chris and I want to use large stones. I am interested in a random flagged pattern of natural stone. While Chris prefers bluestone, he would be fine with natural stone as long as it is smooth so we don't have wobbly tables and chairs.

I decided to choose a smattering of fun random patterns to focus on for my patio inspiration. This area will need more research. Possibly a trip to a stone yard to touch and feel stone.

My patio WISHES - I would love to have a small water feature and Chris would like a functional fire element. It would be really cool to have a pergola to create a connection between house and patio.

water feature and fire feature in the landscapeWhile Chris and I are not in total disagreement about these feature ideas, we agree that they may feel crammed in or "too much" for our small space. We really need to map out the area before we commit one or all of these items.

My images are interesting to me...I seem to like colbalt blue in the garden. It is a recurring color used for a table and chairs, a water feature and in planters. I also see that having planting pockets in the patio may go a long way in creating the ambiance I am seeking.

pergola-patio-outdoor livingBuilding your storyboard may take you a weekend, it may take you a month. Don't rush it, but do stay focused. As spring approaches the magazine stands will be chock full of gardening inspiration, so have fun with this. Once you get your stack of images, move them around a bit to find and group similar features. Notice your color and material preferences. Take notes.

In next week's blog I will outline the steps for drawing a simple bubble diagram that will help you map out the flow and placement of your desired elements within your landscape space.

In the mean time, let me know if you are planning to follow along and do this project as I blog about it. Submit your quesitons in the comment section below and I will submit answers back. If you are building a storyboard of your own, post it on the TGC facebook page if you'd like some personal comment and direction.

Create it as you go!

The Insider's Guide to Landscape Design

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Designing Gardens and Landscapes