How Virtual Reality is Changing the World of Garden Design

No longer the preserve of gaming and entertainment, virtual reality (VR) is already becoming a familiar tool in the interior design and architectural industries, so it’s no surprise that garden designers are beginning to see its potential too.

Our client Helen Elks-Smith is currently demonstrating the technology in the new BBC2 series ‘Your Garden Made Perfect’, where she and three other garden designers use VR to help people understand the potential of their garden, by enabling them to walk-through a 3D representation of the redesigned space before a single piece of earth has been dug.

For many designers, one of the greatest challenges is conveying their vision for a finished garden to the client.   No matter how talented the designer, it can take a leap of faith and a vivid imagination to get them to fully understand a design idea and some will inevitably struggle to visualise it even with plans, drawings, CGIs and mood boards to look at.

As the programme demonstrates, with virtual reality they don’t have to make that leap.  Put on a pair of goggles and you can step directly into the heart of the design to explore a fully interactive digital version of the garden, viewing it from every angle, exactly as you would in real-life, and experiencing views and perspectives that might not be immediately obvious from a drawing.  For gardens especially, it can also give a valuable insight into how they will mature over time and can even incorporate different weather conditions showing you how it will look on a cold, blustery day or a bright sunny afternoon.

There’s an emotive side to presenting designs this way too. Being able to walk through a  garden can engage clients in a way that two or even three-dimensional representations can’t, helping them to commit to it by allowing them to emotionally connect with it first.

While, for now, the humble sketch might still be the go-to for many designers, virtual reality is undoubtedly the way forward, bringing designers and their clients together in a way that’s never been possible before.   Time will tell just how much more advanced VR technology will become but for garden designers – along with interior designers and architects – it could soon be their reality.

Images: Top: BBC2’s ‘Your Garden Made Perfect’.  Bottom: Garden design by Helen Elks-Smith FSGD