An ideas board is basically a scrapbook of ideas. Putting ideas and design influences onto paper lets you see how the elements of your design will fit together. You can get a good idea too of what won't fit.

Using your wish list as reference, try to find examples of each feature that you particularly like. The internet is a good resource for this kind of research. You can use Google images or search through retailers to find exactly what you want. Garden designer's portfolios are useful here since you can see how they dealt with specific features. Check out gardening magazines for the latest trends.

If you have already chosen a style for your garden, then you can look for features that fit with your design style. If you haven't been able to settle on a style, the ideas board will help you to do this.

As you choose the features you like, print out an image of each one or cut the pictures out of gardening magazines until you have a pile of cuttings. For example, suppose you have a circular patio on your wishlist. You can choose from natural brick patios, those made from concrete blocks, precast concrete circular patio kits such as those sold by Marshalls or Bradstones, or natural stone. Maybe you want to use a stone cutter to make your own custom-built circle. You will find a picture of just the kind of thing you want somewhere and this will be included on your storyboard.

When you finally have your pile of cuttings, look through them again with a critical eye and discard any you are not sure about. When you are happy with all the design elements, you are ready to put together your ideas board.

Simply take a large piece of paper and glue your cuttings onto it. Beside the cuttings, write down any relevant notes and, if you have discovered a price, note it down beside the cutting too.

Going back to the example of the circular patio. Suppose you have chosen a precast concrete circular patio kit. While searching for one you like, you found that the price of the kit was 270 and that the manufacturer has recommended that the kit be laid onto a full mortar bed. Then, you would make a note of this next to the cutting that shows the kit.

Eventually, you will have an ideas board that looks something like this: Example of ideas board

Once you have your ideas board made up, you are ready to spend some time working with it. This is discussed in part four of the course: working with the ideas board.

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