🍃  Design
[Daily] Designing gardens for outdoor living in collaboration w/ local eco-systems
117 entries
First: Apr 20, 2020
1 contributor
Ah yea, this is Rachio. It's an irrigati...
Me too!
This is nice lol
This is incredible man
yep, you got it! trying to learn Archica...
thanks! yea, i've been really focusing m...
Oooh like those taller ones to hide the ...
Example https://futureland.tv/morgenp/ka...
@internetvin huh, good question, ha! mos...
It's really inspiring
Shadowed lol
@londonstreet thanks! glad to hear :)
@internetvin 💚 thank you! can't wait t...
This is so dope lol I don’t even know wh...
lol this is incredible all of it
This is so tight man <3
Kind of a dumb question, when you are sp...
Stay tuned for seeing photos of all thes...
This is so great man! I absolutely love ...
yea totally, and having all this informa...
@internetvin good question! depends on t...
I’ve been kinda resistent to the compute...
Huge question, ha! This might be a mini-...
man, I'd love to see how some of this ma...
Nice! I need to learn more about CAD. I ...
this is looking really good
Really cool
Daily Practice, Not Just Computer Proces...
Painting w/ Plants

Making some changes to the irrigation schedule for one of our garden projects.

After discovering Doug Tallamy research last spring, been learning tons about native plants and only designing native plant gardens. Each plant is a host to specific moths. The next layer of this ecosystem that I’ll add is the types of momma birds that then feed each of these moths to their kids.

Think it should be helpful to visualize it like this for myself. And could be sweet to include in the client presentation, like “look at the life your garden is going to foster and support!"


Playing around with how different textures and materials come together in an outdoor space.

Good morning consult for potential new project. The main theme that has been coming to mind today for the garden there is cohesion ~ how can we bring everything together a bit more to feel intentional? Should be fun to think through, will work on proposal tomorrow 🌱

Quick sketch to get a better sense of the space for a potential new project. Helpful to see a couple quick things to help inform the proposal.

Feeling attracted to top down, slightly isometric views. Like between a 3D model + 2D top down plan view kinda. Would probably help I built out this space a bit more, including all the floor / ground surfaces, but putting this here as a reminder.

Wonderful seasonal check-in with a client / neighbor today for a garden I designed and planted this past summer. We're thinking about doing some potted plants on the front porch.

Pretty intense lighting install day yesterday. Photo above is just mocking up the final position of path lights before staking them in. Didn't leave nearly enough time to make it all happen and the truck seems to have died somehow. In the end, really into how it turned out! Huge thanks to @sloane for saving the day on so many levels including transport help and getting into problem solving mode on-site 💚


Added roof and door for sauna, playing around with edging for the garden beds.

Great video call for a new project at the end of the day. Jumped off, sent some of these out of the laser printer, and got some ideas down on paper. Felt good, lots of potential for this project.


Exciting plant delivery at 8am in SF this morning! Design today was not on the computer and it felt so good. Placed all the plants in the space, based on our planting plan which served as an intention. Made some little tweaks and felt it out with the plants there, stepping back to see how everything worked together. Wonder what this will feel like in 2 years.

Got pretty into things today which was nice, around 3 hours and 25 minutes logged for design time. Some of that was still learning things in Archicad time. Probably need another hour tomorrow before sharing this round of work with client.

Tried all the fancy ways to make this curved boardwalk, and none of them were working. Ended up drawing it by hand in Archicad one board at a time, didn’t take that long, more control and more human (not manufactured perfection) feeling. The client is in the process of building this themselves, and the way I’m making on the computer feels like the way in which it will be built IRL, one board at a time.


So much easier to work through problems and jot down ideas on post it notes. Tried on iPad apps and wasn’t working. Explored the inside of the laser printer today and realized it can do larger paper sizes easily. Next, I’d like to try some tracing paper. So can draw on top and layer different concepts together.

Close up of the kitchen steps, veggie garden path, and back deck. Fun seeing how the transparency through the windows works.

Top down slightly angled view — added their existing gravel driveway and some more fencing for where the chickens currently spend their days exploring 🐔

Starting to get better organized in Figma, so each project starts off based on a template file. Realized can group the art boards together for each phase of the design process. Also, helpful for clients to navigate since I’m sharing live Figma files with some of them now.


Roughed in a bunch of windows based on the site photos I took. Not super critical for anything I’m doing, but still pretty helpful to have — can get a sense of the space more, sight lines, walkways from doors.

Bringing client feedback into Notion so it’s on the same surface as the list of design problems to work through. This way I’m not like having to have their email feedback open in another window too.


Adding existing walls of the house, to get better sense of separation of spaces. Focused on the front, side, and back yard. How they connect together and are separate spaces at same time.

Added in the back fence line, lots of wood-working for this project which feels great and keeps it natural.

Formalizing a bit more parts of the process. These are things that I already do sometimes, but want to make it even more fluid and integrated into the practice.

Playing around with how can map out ideas for plants quickly in the Morpholio iPad app.

Use Figma comments more, even for myself of things to resolve. Feels best cause the comment is on the same layer of the actual work, instead of like in a text document list elsewhere.


Had great 25 minute call with the arborist to discuss ideas for a street tree. Not sure yet if this really counts as design. It was a pretty intentional conversation, so more like problem solving design, less like free flowing creative. Leaning toward fruitless olive, due to some size constraints and client preferences. Slow start growth wise, but then will pick up speed.

Having a bit of trouble finding the right street tree for a project in San Francisco. Put together a little 2 page PDF file to share with the arborist I work with and see if they have any thoughts. We're gonna talk on the phone tomorrow.


Sketched out this plant containers today. Had kinda just gone with my gut for the plants before, and wanted to double check seeing them all together. One group of two, and then another one hanging solo.


Committing even deeper to the practice of landscape design. The past year was working a ton on the business, and now I'm excited to more in the business. This looks like designing more gardens. So grateful for the tool and community of Futureland to hold this space

🗓️ Going to add this journal to my Daily and see what happens. Even if it's not a client project, just designing something garden related. This can often look like drawing, dragging shapes around, forming models, making lists, selecting pottery, and so on.

💻 Shifting the more technical computer program stuff to a new journal for Learning Archicad. This was my first journal here, and before my thinking was this focused just on the digital side as I was looking for a new computer aided design program.

🐛 Including more holistic look at the process here w/ photos from the sites themselves since the design process is super site specific. Design starts happening at the 1st consult all the way through to last minute decisions during the build out.

🕸️ With the upcoming Futureland "webs" feature, should be pretty sweet to explore project specific sub-journals that are part of this main Landscape design journal.

[The photo above is from a site visit last month. The family made this mosaic as an early Covid shelter at home project. I'm so in love with this and hoping that we'll include another one to help transition some other stairs to a different surface.]

Opened up Archicad for the 1st time in couple weeks. Just messing around and getting back in there.


Great hour long call w/ Tom for some support building out my library of plants in Archicad. It’s so customizable can be tricky to know how to accomplish what I want, but heading in a good direction now.

Put together the final package of files for the contractor for the SF project. Will be on-site a bit and involved in project admin, but lots of documentation so the crew has everything they need.

New project in San Francisco. Worked on the “shrub-land meadow” in the center of the back garden today.


Printed off plans on-site for planting day! Really excited to see this garden in 3 years.

Built out the back of the house a bit with sliding door and containers for plants.


Starting to share Figma files with clients. Way better than exporting PDFs and keeps all the comments on the same surface. Plus they can see the process behind the scenes and be more involved. Site photos around the perimeter are helpful reference points too.

Added this dining zone and floating bench with a planter box for the back garden.

Continuing to build out the back in 3D as we go. The 2D plan view has more information to get things moving, and then 3D follows.

Feeling excited about this plant palette put together today. Mostly about the “shrubland meadow” zone that we’re thinking of planting.

Into the blank slate feeling today, think that’s a good sign. Starting the site map for a new back yard in San Francisco.

Messing around with “painting” with the plant symbols a bit. Just trying to get in the groove for more of this today.

Sent out a client presentation and really excited about the potential. Here started using some fun “cover fills” to indicate different material types. Love the “stippling” effect for decomposed granite on the right option.

Playing around the idea of this path going through the veggie garden to connect the front walkway to the back yard.

Another standard thing, but figured out more how to export PDFs from the program. The whole flow is kinda still based on the old school idea of “publisher sets” that you get printed, but just had to wrap my brain around it a bit.

Super basic thing that hadn’t figured out yet, but watched some online videos on labels and annotations. So far, been doing this in Figma, instead of Archicad. It’s nice cause the labels stick to the object, and can display tons of different data points, like square footage automatically.

Learned a new feature, that allows you to face the camera looking straight on to one side of an object. Nothing super special here → the deck, some concrete stairs, and the fence. Has a nice collage like feel so far, not hyper realistic which is what I don’t want.

Trying out the Concepts app on the iPad more today to get some ideas out quickly. Seems more fluid than printing out tons of pages on the laser printer to draw on top of, but still learning how the Apple Pencil works best with the program.

Realized I could bring some reference imagery into Archicad. Nice to have it all on the same work surface. The images automatically are added to their own layer, so I can turn off to keep drafting.

Trying to play around and do little things in Archicad each day. Does take a minute to open the program and get set up each time, so this week trying not to quit the program, just Command + H to hide it, and then can instant jump back in to mess with things.

Sourcing lots of plants these days, just sent the nursery this list for a project, excited about some new plant friends here.

Starting to establish the existing elements for a new project. Slow moving today, but good to have some progress.


Playing around with some new rendering styles for top down views. Adding shadows to this outlined version helps.


Finalized an order with the nursery today for a garden project. Pretty excited about the plant palette, some favorites and new friends, and just realized 100% California Natives, except for a couple citrus trees we added last minute. Should get delivered next week, I’ll place them in the garden, and then the client is going to plant themselves which will be great 🍊


Visited a back yard that I designed earlier this spring. Their neighbor had a pretty large tree removed, and so I wanted to see how it impacted the space and light before we order plants. Really opened up the space in a nice way, but more light in some areas.


Started working on a new garden in Walnut Creek today, pretty excited about this one!

Fun experiment seeing what the garden might look like from inside the home. Not sure if this will really become part of the process moving forward, feels a bit too realistic and removes some of the mystery of plants. Going to think about it and play around more.


Got all the plants layed out for the front yard! Pretty seamless and really excited to see how the plants work together in the larger garden. Discovered some new minor road bumps in the process and made notes to troubleshoot them later.

Used the standard shapes and colors for now, didn’t have time to get super custom today, but excited to work toward a more unified style. And could’ve spent an hour in the annotations settings panel, but for now just did these little curved arrows.

Pretty beautiful moment having a blank slate and a palette of plants to paint with. Took a lot of setup in Archicad to get to this point, learning lots along the way, and it feels really empowering to have this be the workflow.

They just planted some fruit trees on their sidewalk strip for this project, so wanted to reflect that in the model and see what they could look like in 5 years height wise. 🍐

Started migrating the plant library that I’ve been building in Airtable, over to Archicad for the design to happen there. Just manual process, but once the plant is in Archicad it’s there for use in all future projects.

Getting even more into the plant workflow, spent a couple hours today digging deeper. But have run into four different minor roadblocks that would be nice to sort out. Put together some screenshots to show what they are, and posted on some online forums to see if the Archicad community might be able to help.

Great site-visit with a contractor that might help build out the design for this project. Felt really prepared for the walk through with all the design documentation getting more organized with each project.

Couple blocks from us and pretty small back garden, so I cleared out the space and took a couple loads to the dump this past spring. Much easier to design with more of a blank slate. And we had the planter box built in the late spring so they could start growing veggies this summer as the rest of the project will get built this winter.

Up until now have been sharing mostly the digital side, but since the work of course is all about the natural world IRL going to start sharing some photos as well.


Unlocked a pretty big part of my workflow today! Discovered the Favorites panel which is where I’ll be able to build out the entire plant database. With the Favorites, it saves all of the 2D vectors, 3D images, and data (plant name, size, and so on) that goes with each plant.

This means I can just search for the plant name, and then plop them down all over the place. Essentially painting with the plants on the site map really quickly.

This quick layout here is what was rendered in 3D in the previous journal entry 🍊


Started bringing in the 3D graphics for real. Quick test rendering, got figure out the settings a bunch more to fine tune.

Playing around with different 2D graphic styles, eventually will make my own but the pre-loaded options were better than expected, nice suprise. Also, figured out a better way to “paint” with the plants, instead of copying and pasting, using the eyedropper tool, then allows you to plop down more of that same plant quickly.

Starting to bring into Archicad the site survey measurements from yesterday. From past experience, figured out it's best to do this while it's fresh in your mind.

Preparing to kick-off a new project this afternoon. Visiting the site for the first time! Going to be a focus on a bunch of California Native dye plants for use with fiber projects. Some Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea (Blue Elderberry) are on the list for sure.

Phew, big day as it all started to come together. Finished the roof, added front door and steps, and short wall around the front gardens. Now that I've got the "backdrop" for the garden, in other words the house, I can finally add all the plants we've been scheming about for this project. Maybe tomorrow or next week. This was the first time 3D modeling in Archicad that I felt comfortable enough putting on a podcast, which is a good sign, normally too much concentration and tricky problem solving.

Pretty slow moving today in terms of progress, modeling this roof was tricky. Did three or four 25 minute sessions, they went by quick. This side of the house is looking pretty good, plus added windows.

Wrapped up a back garden design project that's in our neighborhood. Putting together final plant list in Airtable, design notes in Figma, model in Archicad, and specs for contractor in Paper.

About an hour today exploring the different options to make a sloped sidewalk and front garden. Ended up using the Mesh tool for now.

Last month came across a sale for some 2D plant imagery. Ended up having a really nice email exchange with the person behind the company and learned a bunch. Up until now, on my old computer I was barely able to open Photoshop and didn't have space to download / unzip the 38 GB of files. Taking a look up close for the first time! These will be imported into Archicad and used within the garden models.

One of the major barriers to getting going with Archicad has been realizing that it's going to be a year long learning process until I'll be at the level that I'd like. Ever since using my parents clone Mac as a kid with Adobe Pagemaker, I've just been able to teach myself design programs pretty quickly. With the complexity of the BIM and CAD programs. I'm organizing my notes to create a guidebook for myself to document everything I'm learning.

Trying to open the program more often, even if not huge workload that day. Garage and archway to back yard for friend L's future garden.

Continuing to build out the library of objects, plants, and detailed views. Trying to be patient in the process of getting the software all set up for my process. One of the reasons went with Archicad was that it is so customizable, and can be morphed to fit my needs. Using the program for client projects, but not to it's full potential. Will be much smoother as everything falls into place ✨

Continuing to build out the object library with fountains, garage doors, and the Eames 🐘

Continuing to build out the object library for future projects. These are all objects that come with the program.

Still annotating in Figma for now since it feels quicker. But will eventually annotate everything in the CAD program.

Trying to wrap my head around the mesh tool again today. This one really stumped me on a previous project, but pretty vital to shaping the land.

Playing around with the different fence styles. This will serve as starting points, to modify and design new models from.

Discovered this pretty solid retaining wall feature. Should come in handy in the Oakland / Berkeley hills.

Starting to explore some rendering styles. This is a sample house project from the internet.

Starting to dive deeper into the library of objects that come with the program, in order to figure out what objects I'll have to find online or model myself.

Getting much quicker with the program. Made this 2D plan in 10 minutes. Also, realizing that not everything has to be in three dimensions, since this is just a small quick project for a friend, we only really need a drawing to scale.


Finally figured out how to add dimensions to my drawings. Just had to figure out the double click.

Brought a truck load to the dump today, came back and measured the back garden. Documenting the existing concrete.


Just found a hidden feature to make corrugated sheets, very excited! Always checking these out at the hardware store and have one in my studio as photo backdrop. The wavy line reminds me of making wavy lines like this one in some old program, maybe Macromedia Fireworks.


Downloaded this umbrella from online, and then customized it a bit for this back garden.

Trying to wrap up some design work, and ended up taking screenshot from ArchiCAD into Figma for some quick layout sketches. In the future, should be able to do this all in ArchiCAD.

Top down views, while still rendering some details and shadows throughout the model.

So many palettes and toolbars to pick from. Spent some time getting the workspace set up for now, knowing I'll discover and keep tweaking over time.

This is a new backyard project. It's the first time I've done a site visit and measured the space knowing I'd be modeling it fully in 3D in this program.

Moving forward with ArchiCAD and continuing to discover how powerful the program is. Making a fence in SketchUp is just lines and boxes, but making a fence in ArchiCAD it's full smart and data enriched object.

Re-creating a landscape design project from this past fall, all in ArchiCAD to give it a full test.

Falling in love with a new program called ArchiCAD. The original "virtual building" program and a long history with the Mac. Something is clicking for me, in how it's structured and works together.

This program called Vectorworks has 2D and 3D in one program, which makes a lot of sense. Even though this is the main CAD program for landscape designers, I can't wrap my head around it and the interface feels like it was made in the year 2000. Much of the program feels clunky in an indescribable way.

So it seems like a common workflow is to use AutoCAD LT for 2D drawings and then SketchUp Pro for 3D modeling. Playing around with importing and exporting back and forth. Using examples files from an online class I'm taking.


Jump onto the AutoCAD LT route w/ their New Years sale. Up until this point could barely figure out how to draw a rectangle with specific dimensions. Feels like a whole other world come from Sketch and graphic design apps. Polyline tool explorations.

First part of this project is mostly researching and assessing different tools, w/ the goal of making the process more effecient.

This is Morpholio test sketch to see how it works on the iPad for getting ideas out quick, and iterating.

Leveling up the tools I'm using for landscape design projects. Starting at first w/ Figma for putting together our client presentations.

ethan 🍃  Design