Photography As A Tool For Better Garden Design

I read a story about a well-respected landscape photographer, who said he always knew a garden was really well designed if it was easy to photograph. He learned so much through taking photographs of gardens he ended up becoming a well-respected landscape designer as well as a great photographer.

Here's a good example from my own garden which I think illustrates his point. The following picture shows the entry area. It's a small, walled-in section leading to the front door. Unfortunately, what you see when you walk in is the roof of the neighboring house:

This area is full of Austin roses, and it looks fabulous a lot of the time, but I never get a good photograph of it because I can't get the neighbor's roof out of the frame. Not only is there an unimpeded view of that lovely roof, but the original landscape architect (not I!) saw fit to create a frame for it with the big lantern-topped columns in the wall.

And she wondered why I didn't like her work.

Using the magic of Microsoft Paint, I removed the roof. Better? I think so. The untouched photograph puts a roof between you and the distant hills. Without the roof, it gives the area a greater sense of spaciousness.

Of course, I could use Paint or Photoshop to make the photographs look better. But what I want is for the garden to look better. And while I knew something was wrong in this area, it was the many attempts to get a good picture that showed me exactly what was wrong and what I needed to improve. I'm planning a hedge, just tall enough to screen out that roof.

So, go outside and take some pictures, and see what you can see!


  1. I can never get the right side of my house to look good in pictures because you can always see the trash cans! I've thought about building a little trash can fence, but nobody in this household is that kind of handy.

  2. Hi Azure!

    What about hiding the trash can by planting a smallish, dense shrub? Or perhaps buying a pre-made fence panel that can be set into the ground? Or a pre-made trellis, and grow a small vine on it?

  3. I have actually seen some pre-made ones in the Improvements catalog. The only thing is that it's paved with fake stones around there. How do I attached the fence to the ground? Also, I'd need some sort of door to get the cans out, or at least leave one side open.

    BTW, I've changed my handle from HershiGrl to Azure. More age appropriate I think. :)

  4. Attach the fence or trellis to the it possible to remove two of the fake stones and dig post holes? The other idea that immediately occurs is to drill into the fake stones and bolt supports in place, which might be difficult. Sounds difficult to me! :)

    What about a potted shrub or two? Say a rectangular pot with a couple of boxwoods in it? There's a 'Green Tower' boxwood that stays narrow and can be clipped to any height, and boxwood do ok in a pot for quite a few years. That might be easiest. Hope that helps!


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