$25K prize for best urban garden design

14-09-2011 07-57-29

The Trinity Avenue Farm Design Competition is a competition developed to inspire creativity and innovation as the City of Atlanta works to establish an effective and aspirational model for urban agriculture within Atlanta communities—showcasing how fresh food can be grown locally and sustainably.

The competition is open to professionals, students and educators in agriculture, architecture, construction, design, development, engineering, horticulture, landscape architecture, planning and others fields interested in urban agriculture. Entrants must be residents of the state of Georgia.

The winning farm design will be developed on the 0.8 acre lot located across the street from City Hall on the corner of Trinity and Central Avenues (formerly the site of the Atlanta traffic court building). The physical address is 104 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA, 30303.

How the Competition Works

  1. Interested parties must first provide notification of their interest to participate in the competition by registering online by the 5 p.m. (EDT) deadline on October 14th, 2011.
  2. Submissions following the competition guidelines must be received by the City of Atlanta no later than 5 p.m. (EDT) on November 1st, 2011.

All design submissions will be evaluated by the Trinity Avenue Farm Design Competition Review Committee to determine the competition finalists. Selected finalists will present their designs to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who will choose the winner. Once the winning design is chosen, the preparation of the land and design installation will begin immediately. The farm is scheduled to open to the public in Spring 2012.

Download site plan here

Download Contour Plan

Download all photos and plans here



Do Gardens Need Plants?

Well according to almost every dictionary definition the answer must be yes!

  • A plot of land used for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, herbs, or fruit.
  •  gardens Grounds laid out with flowers, trees, and ornamental shrubs and used for recreation or display. Often used in the plural: public gardens; a botanical garden.
  • A fertile, well-cultivated region.These are just a few of the many definitions, but could these be out of date? Why do gardens need plants?

Over the last 30 years, demand for building land has increased, land prices have exploded and so consequently, gardens have got smaller.

In this time, peoples’ expectations have changed and they demand bigger, brighter homes with more living space and larger rooms.

When you have a 4-5 bed detached house on a pocket handkerchief sized plot, the garden you are left with, is often no bigger than the lounge or drawing room.

So why not treat this space like any other room?


There are some fabulous outside wooden and wicker style 3 piece suites with water proof cushions, which a few years ago would have cost a small mortgage, but are now very affordable and are sold in many DIY and garden super stores.

Dining furniture has come a long way from those horrible white plastic tables and chairs our parents owned and even outside cooking facilities have come of age with some gas BBQ’s offering more cooking options than a standard kitchen hob.

People are even building entire outside fireplaces with remote control gas fires and chimneys.

You can clad old fencing in timber to give a modern architectural feel. You can even render boundary walls to look like plastered internal walls. These can then be painted in colours to compliment the internal decoration of the house.

You can now buy water and UV resistant canvas photographs, which can be hung outside all year round to create an external gallery, a perfect solution, for that dull side ally where your windows look out onto a boring fence or wall.

The outside space can be further furnished and decorating with pots and sculpture. Running water can be added to help mask background street noise and garden lighting can transform the space into an outside night-time oasis.

People equate plants to maintenance! Remove plants from the equation and you can furnish and decorate your outside room in exactly the same way as you would any other room and by doing so add to the living environment of your home.

Duncan Heather is Director of the Oxford College of Garden Design and MyGardenSchool

The Design Process

Designer Duncan Heather argues that more can be made of the preliminary research documents, when it comes to winning design contracts and selling schemes to clients.


When first being taught to allocate space, the landscape student is guided through several different processes before they reach a final design solution.

It all starts with an accurate topographical land survey. A plan of the site is then drawn up to scale, to include boundary walls, existing buildings, trees, services and existing levels.

Having gathered this information on a local scale, the student should then expand their area of study to the surrounding landscape. Topographical, historical cultural and architectural information can be gathered from maps and the internet, which helps put the site into context and may suggest a theme on which to hang their eventual design.

Shadow plans are then calculated to assess the impact of spring and summer shade patterns and a sight Analysis plan developed to note the influencing factors of the site such as existing features, wind direction good and bad views etc.

Once all this information has been compiled, the student can start to experiment with space allocation in the form of bubble or functional diagrams.

All this work is a prerequisite to the creation of the presentation or master plan.

But what happens to all this research once the presentation plans are completed?

What many student fail to appreciate, is the difficulty many clients have in understanding the 2D plan drawings.
While we take it for granted that the ‘house’ is the big black rectangle in the middle of the drawing, it’s surprizing how few clients realise this. You can be waxing lyrical about how great their new garden is going to be, while showing them the plan and they simply can’t make head nor tail of it!

At the Oxford College of Garden Design we teach our students to overcome these difficulties by using the research and preparation drawings as part of the sales presentation.

The diagram above, illustrates the 4 preliminary design stages and can either be presented on separate sheets, or combined into one or 2 presentation drawings. These allow the designer to start their presentation, by going through the site survey and pointing out the house and the important features of the garden. This allows the client time to digest the plan and to familiarise themselves with the graphical nature of the drawings.

Next you can explain how you developed their ideas, by running through the site analysis plan and the bubble/functional diagrams.

Explaining the thought process to your clients helps you justify why you have arrive at a particular design solution, but also it help the client to understand how much work goes into the preparation of a landscape plan.

When you are charging several $1000 for an outline proposal arriving with just one sheet of paper can give the client the impression that they are not getting value for money.

Remember! you only get one crack of the whip at presenting your ideas, so you need to make that ‘sale’ in no more than about 60 minutes, otherwise you won’t get the rest of your design fee and more importantly the garden will never be built.

Arriving with 2-3 sheets of research drawings plus the garden plan, plus any coloured perspective and a mood board, suddenly starts to look like a lot of work and thought has gone into the design.

So if you want to improve your sales and get more of your gardens built, spend a little extra time ‘prettying-up’ your research drawings and use them as part of your presentation.

Duncan Heather is director of the Oxford College of Garden Design and MyGardenSchool and one of Europe top garden designers