Image of a Fantasy Garden: Topiary bushes in 3d

Incredible 3d Gardens: Innovative Landscape Designer for Children & Happy Adults

For a garden lover like me, it’s a dream come true. Creative garden designs that use materials and technology not available to gardeners before, such as 3d design and 3d printing, give garden designers unprecedented abilities to create immersive gardens for people. It is this ability that has led me and some of the world’s most talented landscape designers to take their work in new directions – and I’m taking you with me!

Let’s have a look at the future of these fun landscapes. You may know them as zen gardens, kids gardens, immersive experiences, or sensory gardens. I think of them as a just joyful collision of technology and biology. With what’s possible today, I know if I can imagine in my landscape sketches and in my 3d garden designs, it’s possible in reality.

How do you design a unique garden experience? The Oddtoe Way

The garden design process begins with an idea. I might start with an idea for a kinetic sculpture that’s at the heart of a kids’ garden. I might think of unique shapes for topiary. But a visual person, as a trained illustrator, I start with a sketch. Or two.

I find it helps to sketch garden ideas on a pad with either a pencil or pastels. Those sketches soon make their way into my 3d design software, but not until I’m happy as a clam (American) or happy as Larry (Australian) with what I’m designing.

In addition, I like using garden design software that gives me the ability to play around and experiment in my garden designs without having them built first. As a topiarist and a sensory garden designer, I enjoy fantasy garden designing because of this creativity, where there are no limitations except for what one’s imagination can come up with.

What does this garden design process look like?

To be honest, it looks like my desk: messy, unstructured, but bustling with a lot of fun-to-do, but competing ideas. Now, I’ve got to decide what’s the core idea, what senses am I trying to stimulate in the kids and adults who visit my garden designs, and finally what does my client’s brief truly request.

Here are some recent designs that I’ve created (in various forms) for a children’s hospital garden, a topiary garden, and a surreal zen garden to be experienced by kids and the young-at-heart…

Where is Oddtoe taking garden, park, and playground design for kids?

I’m just going to list out the things I love in outdoor spaces and the things children are drawn to. I see a lot of bright colors. I see large-scale murals and sculptures. Topiary. Water features. Bridges. Hidden nooks. Lots of good smells. Unique auditory cues and background music. Animated and projected light for the early evening and shady spots under trees and kid-size structures for daytime enjoyment.

How do you commission a zen garden, a sensory garden, a playground, or a kids’ park?

First, I recommend getting in touch with a landscape designer who has experience designing for kids. Have that initial chat. Talk about the space you are looking to create, what’s currently there, and who your visitors will be. Second, with that discussion under your belt, get your brief together. I look for a few key things in the briefs I receive from clients.

  • How large is the space where the garden will go and grow? An acre, 50 meters squared…?
  • How open is the client to new techniques, new materials, and new thinking? What level of creativity is possible with the experience that is being designed?
  • Is there a budget? A budget for design, a budget for construction, a budget for the garden, playground, or park’s maintenance?

Interested in Creating the World’s Most Unique Experience for Kids?

Since my days as the Online Editor at National Geographic Kids, I dreamt of the next generation of experiences that were possible for children. Far too many of these experiences are purely digital. Oddtoe is me and Oddtoe is a brand of visual creativity. I enjoy the sensory design process — visual, auditory, or olfactory — and I love the creativity involved with fusing different media and technologies together. Above all though, I love the look on kids’ faces when they found something that stimulates their minds and makes them smile.

So if you are looking to create a kids’ garden, a kids’ park, or a children’s playground, get in touch with Oddtoe — I can have that chat with you and talk about what your project goals are and I can discuss with youthe process of designing infrastructure for children.