Sunday, March 27, 2011

Designing a Circle Lawn

     One of my favorite ideas about garden design is the idea of first designing the lawn area, then creating the planting beds.   When you do this, the lawn becomes part of the design. It is not just the grass you cross to get to the good stuff.

Garden designers call unplanted areas like lawns, "negative space". This is negative space with a purpose.  Creating a path or shape out of your lawn really helps to make your entire garden more of an experience.

Our Circle Lawn just last week.

     That is what we have done in our small front yard at Gilmore Gardens - created a garden where you are experiencing the plantings (even the grass!) as you walk in progression from the Shade Path, to the Circle Lawn and then onto the Front Walk.

But the part that always makes me smile is the Circle Lawn.

Above is a view from the sidewalk in front of our house, looking back towards to Shade Path and the gate to the backyard. The first thing that made me think that a circle shape would work well here is that is it a transition space, but I also wanted it to be a destination.  Viewed from the gate, it definitely draws you forward to see what is next.  It also makes you feel like you have arrived somewhere unique.

Actually making the circle was simple enough.  I pushed a stake into the grass, adjusting and re-adjusting it to the perfect spot for the center of the circle.  I looked back towards the gate, and eyed it from all angles.

When pleased, I attached a rope to the stake and pulled it taut to make a radius to the edge (the distance from the center to one side). Once I had decided on how big the lawn should be, I walked slowly around using the radius to mark out the circle edge, by placing small sticks at each measured distance.  Then I grabbed my spade and went to work edging the circle lawn.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor'

     My favorite addition to the circle adds a "fairy" element.  I planted a few dozen Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' in the center of the lawn by peeling back a one-foot section of the turf, throwing them in and then laying the turf back in place.  We also poked holes and planted more C. 'Tricolor' bulbs at odd distances around the rest of the circle to help the bulbs look more naturalized.

The one other fun part of placing the Circle Lawn in this spot, is that it is next to the Cherry Corner garden.  This garden contains a weeping cherry tree that blossoms pink in the spring (hopefully this year it will at the same time as Narcissus 'Pink Charm'!).  

Cherry Corner ~ April 2010

Once this tree matures, its round canopy should just intersect the edge of the Circle Lawn, creating an echo of the circle shape.  And this scene will be the focal point from the backyard, down the Shade Path.  I am waiting with excited anticipation to see that day!

Hope this encourages you to be daring in your own yard!


  1. Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by my blog :) I'm delighted to have found yours as well! I like the look of naturalizing you did in your lawn, so pretty! What a fun way to enjoy early spring!

  2. It is a great idea, and your lawn looks much better than the boring rectangles I so often see here. I love the crocuses in the lawn too, they make it really special.

  3. You are so much more organized than I am. I tend to throw something together and them readjust it later. I get reactions fro my husband like you want to move that tree again!!!

  4. Great idea though my garden is too small to do that. But will like to try round flower bed circling the tree like yours.

  5. Well said - too many gardeners keep nibbling away at their lawns creating odd shapes which are never comfortable. A deffinate shape like a circle or square is a much better option. It can also disguise an odd shaped plot giving a unity to the space. Christina

  6. I love the whimsy of the unexpected placement of the crocuses - very nice!!

  7. Love the crocus coming up in the lawn.

  8. Whenever I design a garden I design the lawn areas and let the beds fall into place. I design for easy mowing and long sweeping curves, and the beds just accentuate the beautiful lawn that way :-) Love your circle lawn area!!

  9. I love your circle garden, Julie! It is one of my favorite spots in your garden:)

  10. Keep us posted on your circular lawn. I'd like to see more pictures of it in the future. It's fun to incorporate garden designs in our own yard.

  11. I think my last comment didn't post, so I'll try again. Your crocus in the grass are perfect! In our neighborhood, the grass is still brown when the crocus bloom and it looks a little weird. And you said you didn't have any Austin roses - you NEED some, believe me :-) Check out and order a free catalog (their catalog is so gorgeous). You can order from them (which is what I usually do), or I've seen english roses at costco, my local nursery, and specialty rose nurseries. Sometimes the local ones are priced a bit lower, and you don't have to pay shipping.

  12. Happy happy happy! These are the happiest crocuses! And I love the sweeping lawn, too. :)

  13. I really love how the crocus looks coming up in the lawn! I agree that a lawn can be incorporated in the design to make a space that is beautiful and functional. You have done a great job!


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