Great landscaping is one of the most valuable things you can add to your home. Not only does it add value to a home when it comes time to sell it, but you also get to enjoy it every day. Our HomeByMe home decor projects should reflect this with additional creativity as needed.
For example, my monster US southwestern style Adobe Central Courtyard home design project is moving right along. I realized that in addition to the inside courtyard plantings (1 & 2), I needed to get busy with some outside landscaping too. Since the home is in the virtual southwest, I need to be sensitive with my plantings so that they don’t require too much water. I’ll be putting the first outdoor landscaping in the area (red box) outside the kitchen, which has its own small container gardens. It’s a great place to have a small plant nursery, gardens and free-standing plants to enjoy.
The house is designed with thick adobe walls to help moderate the temperature inside. There are two private areas to relax inside the compound. After a dip to cool off, you can lounge around the pool (1), which is surrounded by plants for an even more comfortable feeling. You can also relax under the umbrella in the grassy area (2), which is lined with leafy bushes. They not only help keep things cool, but they also absorb some of the sound bouncing off all of the hard surfaces.
BEFORE – The original Adobe Central Courtyard HomeByMe project file was already quite large, so I chopped off everything except the kitchen section. This is what I started with: some space, some plants and a heavy dose of inspiration.
AFTER – This is the end result, Adobe Home Gardens, complete with a plant nursery, a custom potting table, an outside building with storage and a washroom (so you don’t have to go inside to clean up), benches, a tiny sculpture garden, tables and chairs for enjoying the whole setup and night lighting to help you find your way. There are plenty of planting groups included and I’ll explain how I made each one.
Here are the nine – make that ten – plants currently available in HomeByMe. The tree (Rooms>Outdoor>Outdoor vegetation) shown in the little inset was just added to the HomeByMe libraries as I was finishing this blog. I’m going to show you some techniques on how to make the most of them and throw in plenty of tips and tricks along the way. Every plant growing in the Adobe Home Gardens project is a copy or an alteration of one of these plants.
Although you want each duplicate piece of furniture to be the same size and shape as the first one; in nature, plants do not all grow the same size or shape. It is important for a natural looking garden or even a simple row of bushes to make some of the plants slightly different sizes.
Having different heights is one valuable way to make a difference, but also try changing the width and depth to have lower and bushier plants when that is needed. Just click on the plant and you’ll see the tools you need. Click on the pencil tool (1) to open the Properties box to change your plant’s dimensions.
Many times you’ll want to have your plants look like they’re in the ground and not in a pot. It’s easy, just click on the Collision Detection box (2) to turn it off. This will allow you to use the Up/Down arrow (3) to push your plants through the ground so that you can hide the pots. This a key item to know and remember.
The smaller plants do not have an Up/Down arrow or the Collision Detection box to lower them through the ground. You can make them bigger until they do have an Up/Down arrow (around 15″ tall should do it. You have to deselect and then reselect the plant to see the arrow. Once they’re in the ground you’ll need to make them smaller again.
But there’s a much easier method. Just keep a spare big plant close by and hold down the Cntrl key and select the big plant (1) first and then the smaller plant(s) you want to move (2). Now you can move the plants as a group. Next, turn off Collision Detection (3) and lower your small plants into the ground using the Up/Down arrow (4). Once they’re in the ground, click somewhere else in the project window to deselect the group. You can pop the smaller plants back to the surface by just selecting it again and moving it a little. Use the Up/Down arrow on the bigger plants.
If you look in the plant nursery you’ll see rows of plants with the “soil” mounded up around them. This is done for a variety of reasons to help the plants grow better. In this example you’ll see eight cacti in the ground using the method above and another eight where the pots sit on the ground and a mound of soil is being moved over to cover them. The mound is simply a soil-colored Free shape (Rooms>For all rooms>Free shapes) that’s sized to cover the pots.
(Just a note: when you’re selecting your soil color, use Fabric colors since there are so many to choose from and they always appear with a flat or matte finish. Glossy soil would look odd.)
This row of bushes and accent plants all started with the same default sizes. Changing them just a little bit makes them look much more natural. Lights behind the plants throw off great shadows and highlights to make the simple planting look even better.
It’s also important for natural looking plants to rotate a few of them so they are lined up slightly differently. This is easiest to do when in the 2D mode of Furnish. Just select the plant and click on the blue circle and move it until it’s where you want it.
When you see leaves overlapping the structure around it, be sure to check in 3D mode to make sure that the leaves are separate from the structure. This especially important when using plants that have leaves that naturally curve down below the edge of the pot they’re in as shown by the leaves showing below the red lines.
The easiest way to hide the pot is to make it the same color as the soil around it (1). Another way is to make a Free shape cylinder that is just the right size (2) and make it the same color as the soil around it. Then use 2D mode to center it on the ground below the plant. Then go back to 3D mode and move the plant – with Collision detection turned off – down through the cylinder until you can’t see the pot or potting soil anymore (3). You can still see the pot below the ground here because there isn’t any ground surrounding the plant.
You can use the same method to put your plants into big pots (Rooms>Outdoor>Outdoor decoration) or vases (Rooms>For all rooms> Home decor>Vases).
One way to create dramatic lighted raised beds for your plants is to create your walls (1) in Build mode and then add a Free shape block of “soil” (2). The Free shape can be bigger than the space inside the walls, just make sure you turn off Collision detection when you move it into place. Use the 2D button in Furnish mode to position your soil, plants and lights (3). Then go back to 3D, turn off Collision detection and move them into place vertically (4). The lighting will be even better if the planter is up against a wall to show off the shadows and highlights.
If you want your planters to be the same color all over (the tops of planters built using walls will always be white), make them using Free shapes (1). Each Free shape block will be the same color/texture all over. After you’ve created the planter, add soil (2) and your plants (3) following the same steps described above.
Some of the plants can also be used in many different sizes and still look realistic. The tallest bush can be changed from little tiny ones, like in the nursery all the way up to big trees like the ones behind the gardening structure. In this project the big “trees” help provide a strong background for the landscaping and add a size comparison that puts the house size in perspective too.
To be able to take care of the plants, a potting bench is a great tool to have. I wanted a BIG bench, so I built my own using Free shapes (and some kitchen accessories). Now I can be steps away from both the kitchen and the nursery.
Since I mentioned the kitchen, let’s go inside for a minute and see how easy it is to liven up the inside of your project too. Even a simple arrangement of several plants will make the room look more lived in. They also add details and color right where you need it.
Indoor planters can be made the same way as when you’re outside. Use a Free shape container (1), Free shape soil (2) and then add plants (3) resized to fit your design.
The landscaping and extra outdoor rooms look great! Now I can really enjoy it when I need some time outdoors.
Now it’s your turn!