Wicker PAC: Home Landscape Design Workshops


The Wicker Park Garden Club and Advisory Council taught the Home Landscape Designworkshop to 40 students from all over Chicagoland. This class occurred during January and February of this year for 8 weeks on Saturdays. The class is funded by enrollment fees and is presented as a partnership with the Chicago Park District to enhance the programming for adults in Wicker Park.

Most of the students had no previous training in landscape design. Their ages ranged from 22 to 94. Most had small city lot gardens, deck or balcony gardens, and some were interested in designing roof top gardens.  Some had larger suburban or out of state properties. Most students wanted to incorporate vegetables into their designs.


One scholarship was offered to a Community Gardens in the Park garden group. Hannah Larson from Bosley Park (3044 S Bonfield St, Chicago, IL 60608) is working with a Girl Scout troup to create a garden in their park. She taught the children all the concepts she learned and enticed them to draw and design the final garden (featured at the top of the page). They came up with a timetable for completion and a budget that they need to complete the project. 

In its 11th year of operation, the workshop was taught by 4 professional designers and 14 teacher assistants (veteran gardens). The class was begun as a way to assist in raising funds for the 10,000 sq. feet of ornamental gardens in Wicker Park and a way to meet new garden enthusiast from all over Chicagoland. This year, the instructors were Ellen Moderhack, MODE Landscape Design,  Sam Marts, Sam Marts Architects & Planners, LTD., Julie Siegel, Julie Siegel Designs, Incand Monica Buckley, Red Stem Native Landscapes.

Thank you to all of the wonderful Teacher Assistants: Jim Angrabright, Denise Browning, Enrique Cahue, Paula Collins, Donna Forsberg, Linnea Levy, Patricia Pinianski, Mary Tamminga, Betsy Tandy, Peggy Thoma, Richard Tilley, Kelly Wisdom, Doug Wood and Leslie Zimmerman.

The series takes the students through the process of design – both in lectures and in weekly hands-on design projects. Each week, time was allotted to review each student’s project and to give advice on next steps needed to complete the design.

Students were introduced to these elements of design: 

  • SITE PLAN: How to create a site plan of their focus area for use in the design process.
  • KEY WORD: They were asked to choose One Word or Phrase to describe the landscape that they wanted to design – like restful, peaceful, etc
  • IMAGE BOARD: They created an Image Board that displayed photos of elements that they’d like to see in their final design.
  • ARCHITECTURE: How to incorporate the architectural influences of the home into the landscape design
  • HARDSCAPE: They explored various hardscape and water usage options and solutions
  • USAGE AREAS: Determining usage areas and planting bed areas
  • SOIL: Learned how to prepare soil (soil amendments needed) so that it sustains the plants they choose.
  • SUSTAINABLE PLANT PALETTES: The studied and designed with various sustainable plant palettes of annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees for sun and shade as exercises that may work for their final project.
  • SEED: Learned how to start their plants from seed, if they choose to do that.
  • NATIVES: They were introduced to native and sustainable plant palettes and how to work with them
  • FOUR SEASON INTEREST: How to incorporate 4 season interest into their designs
  • EDIBLE GARDENS: How to incorporate vegetables and herbs into home landscape design.

At the end of the series, each student presented a power point presentation of their design process to the class. Overall the students were very happy with the workshop. One student said “This was a great class that helped us understand the frameworks for creating our garden/yard.” Learn about how you can get involved next year below!

A student's drawn final design layout

A student's drawn final design layout

An example of an electronic layout (most of the students created their final project electronically) 

An example of an electronic layout (most of the students created their final project electronically) 

Attend this workshop in 2018! Join fellow landscape design enthusiasts from Saturday, January 6th - February 24th, 2018, from 10 am - 1 pm.

For more info, contact Doug at doug.wood@wickerpark.org.