Making a record of your impressions

After you've had a chance to take it all in from your favorite lawn chair (see the preceding section), it's time to start putting your impressions in some physical form, whether you're making notes, sketching, or taking pictures. Put all this information in a folder or binder, which will become Design Central for your project. Keep it close at hand because you'll find yourself referring to it and making additions on a regular basis.

The exact content of the binder varies from person to person and from site to site, but it should include some or all of the following elements:

  • A bubble diagram showing the basic functions of each area: This diagram helps you through the early design process. For an example and a complete explanation of what a bubble diagram is, check out Chapter 6.
  • A list of your favorite plants: Even though choosing plants is one of the last steps in designing a landscape, it's good to begin thinking about it now. What plants do you like most? Even if some of them won't work in your yard, thinking about them develops your awareness of the qualities of plants and of your own taste. Also note which plants are already in your yard and think about whether you want to keep them.
  • Any problems you've identified: For example, maybe your neighbors' garage is really close to one of your property lines and their teenager's band practice is annoying. You may not be able to convert the kid to your style of music, but you can put up a wall to block the sound a bit.
  • A list of things you like and dislike about your yard: For instance, has it always bothered you that there's no privacy in your backyard or that the kids don't have a place to play? Bring those issues to the surface. Talk to the family about them. Also inventory the good things: that cozy place under the elm tree, the handsome Camellia outside the front door, your funky-but-productive veggie patch.

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