Welcome to the PITH + VIGOR weekly  - a newsletter by me, Rochelle Greayer a ruminating garden designer. The land and design are my starting point - but I'm leaving it open to see where else we can go. I'm glad you're here. Was this newsletter forwarded to you? You deserve your own: Subscribe here.


Harvard, MA, June 25th, 2023


Blank space is overwhelming. 


Especially to anyone who wants to create something to fill it. 


The empty canvas, the clean sheet of paper, the flashing cursor on the blank screen, the expanse of yard.  It can create an overwhelming desire to just go back inside and throw yourself on the sofa. 


All creators face blank page syndrome.   


Even after decades of gardening and designing professionally, I’m certainly not immune to standing in the middle of my driveway - ready for action - but with too many thoughts to even know where to begin. It gets easier with practice but if you’re a beginner - it can be especially challenging. 




You can fix anything but a blank page.       – Nora Roberts




In the face of overwhelm, here is what I see most beginning garden makers do: 


  1. Give up. (I mean, do we really need to deal with the backyard?) or 

  2. Move forward with what 'seems right'. (Not realizing that there is a much better way). 


What 'seems right'?  

It seems right to color in between the lines - just like we did when we were little. You’ve got a big old canvas — that has to be filled in, and there are some lines on it already so you just color them in. If you are extra fastidious or vaguely clever you outline the existing lines with some parallel lines.*


The problem is the existing lines are usually super dumb, and they aren’t going to help you have a good garden or a space that feels cozy, inviting, stylish or functional.**  


The existing lines most people have are: 

  1. Property lines. They serve an obvious purpose, but they were never meant to help you create a nice space.  

  2. Driveways, and existing path lines. Again - these are often highly functional, perhaps even created by practicality rather than planning - but not typically intended to be the basis of an exciting design. 

  3. The foundation lines. Your house has a shape on the ground; a foot print. Those lines are a result of how an architect laid out interior features - and following them will not make your garden great. 


Obviously you need to acknowledge the existing lines - but learning to ignore them as you imagine something better is the only way you can break away from the hyper-boring garden.




Why don't the existing lines work? 

Following the existing lines creates souless spaces that are typically too big (big ≠ cozy). 


The existing lines are only functional and always unimaginative. (unimaginative ≠ stylish).  


Following these lines leads us to push all the plants around the edges into those skinny boundary beds and foundation beds that never create a real vibe (edge planting ≠ inviting). 


And worst of all, it leaves us with big open areas in the middle that we don’t know what to do with.  And when we don't know what else to do, we default to wall-to-wall carpeting (AKA GRASS). ***



How to make better lines: 

Learn to approach your garden like a professional, here's how:

  1. Work ideas out on paper. It is easier to get rid of the lines we don’t want to consider. Paper, pencil and an erasure allows you try things out and explore ideas with ease. It is much easier to stop seeing the lines that are right in your face, when they are not actually right in your face. The abstraction of paper is a huge help. Erase the existing, and consider the possibilities. Even the most rudimentary sketch will vastly improve your final project. 

  2. Add lines to make smaller spaces. Designers know that big open spaces usually feel smaller than a well organized series of smaller spaces.  Let me say that again (because it is counterintuitive) Smaller connected spaces will enlarge even the smallest gardens and distinct areas are usually more functional than one great big area that tries have everything.**** 

  3. Work from the middle out and organize your functional areas near to each other in a ways that make sense. By working from the center out - you take away the power of the boundary lines.  Once you have all your areas placed in, you can beautifully fill in the edges with plants. (Boom! no more boring and silly foundation and boundary beds)

This week on instagram I am going to be sharing more practical exercises for moving past the boring old lines and towards more exciting better ones.  I hope you will follow along to learn more



Whenever you're ready, there are a few ways I can help you:

1. If you are looking for a DIY way get a designer plan for your garden - without hiring a designer, I can help.  

→Join The Garden Design Lab  to go from a blank slate or complete re-do through space planning, materials selection, styling, art and planting design and more with my help at every step. This is my most transformative course - created for both homeowners and budding designers. Join 500+ students.

→Transform your existing garden with The Planting Design Bootcamp   - it is all planting design (and nothing else) and was created for people who only need to redesign of their garden beds but don’t need to rethink the whole landscape plan. 

→Gardeners of big and small spaces enjoy my Container Gardening course to learn how to create beautifully styled collections of plants. Plus this is the fastest way to gain access my one-on-one consultation services (reserved only for my students).


2. Promote yourself to 22,000+ subscribers by sponsoring this newsletter.

Until next week, 


xo - Rochelle



*😬😬😬 (this is the "I'm cringing at the thought of it" face, right?)


**These are the top 4 things people say they want from their gardens.  


***Do I even need to say it? Being a slave to a patch of grass is not functional. And it is also not fun. And it is definitely not good for our environment. Plus, wall to wall carpeting is super gross. Give your grass a shape (i.e make it into an area rug) - it will be better in every way.  


****Put some thought to what you need.  Make a comprehensive list  of activities you want to do in your garden and then start organizing them into areas. A space to store garbage bins? Or an area to pot up plants might become a utility area. Consider distinctively styled growing areas. You’ll need ways to get from here to there (the street to the door, the shed to the vegetable patch, the swing set to the pool, etc), an area to cook, eat, sleep, do jumping jacks.  What ever you want.

Greayer Design Associates

PO Box 394, Harvard, MA
United States

Instagram Pinterest Twitter