Create a Home Outside

Dr. Leonard Perry

UVM Extension Professor

Whether you are itching to get outside in the spring and design or renovate your landscape, are in the midst of the season of doing so, or at the end of the season and wonder how to change your landscape to make it more exciting and functional and a perfect fit for your needs, you should check out a suite of products from Home Outside Design.  This website is from acclaimed and well-known designer and author Julie Moir Messervy and her Julie Moir Messervy Design studio. 

This suite of products began with her book, the Home Outside, from Taunton Press in 2009.  In it Julie focuses on principles and patterns that are useful wherever you are, and whatever the scope of your landscape.  The emphasis is on smaller landscapes and projects that are possible by many, with details and ideas for most homeowners.  Julie covers her six main design principles, plus three main zones to consider on a property, and illustrates these with many case studies including both photos and plans.   The title is reflective of the approach to considering your property as a whole, using the outside as part of your “home” too, a place to live in as well. (My visit with her on this book is streaming online at

More recently, Julie has developed an online workbook that will help you design your landscape using the same principles as in her book.   Once you sign up, and answer some questions to help her design team match a plan to your needs and desires, you follow instructions on how to measure your site and what the team needs.  They’ll then create a couple designs you can choose from, either to expand on with them or own your own with local professionals.

Even more recent and fun and very low lost ($2.99) is an iphone App on Home Outside Design.  This is the kind of useful app that makes me wish I had an iphone!  Just by moving your fingers about you can choose among almost 300 images of such items as trees, shrubs, structures, and hardscape elements such as walls or walks, and add or subtract, and move them about. “Green” images are included to choose, such as compost bin, clothesline, or even a green roof.  This app is a quick and fun way to see what certain elements may look like or where they’ll fit, or to pursue such ideas with your local nursery.

We’re so lucky to have Julie as part of our Vermont horticulture family of professionals.  You can learn more about her studio and projects from my visit on an Across the Fence television show (  Of course her website ( has more on all these products, plus a Facebook page where you can get ideas from others, and a blog where you can keep up with current resources and topics.  You’re bound to learn and be inspired by her website which, in addition to all these, features her books and photos of some of her many and well-known projects (such as the Toronto Music Garden—a collaboration with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, based on Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello). 

Whether homeowner or landscape professional, with some time visiting her website and learning from her suite of offerings, you’ll begin your landscape transformation and see landscapes with a new vision.   Through all these resources, Julie hopes that you will be empowered “to create spaces you love and to go outdoors to live in and enjoy them.”



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