To make sure your landscape showcases the important features, screens the undesirable ones, and stays functional and attractive, there are a few things to consider before heading to the nursery to stock up on plants.
Create a plant and terrain map
The first thing you’ll need to do is map out your yard using graph paper. This will provide you with a guide when planning your overall landscape design. Don’t forget to include walls, driveways, sidewalks, patios and trees in your drawing.
Consider movement in your garden
Next, determine how you will move throughout your garden. You may want to consider a stepping stone path, a gravel path or an area of turf which can be used to get from point A to point B.
This is also the time to examine the grading of your yard and whether it is suitable for landscaped beds. You may need to install a French drain to control standing water, build a retaining wall to hold back a small hill, or build raised beds to better showcase the landscape and to provide increased drainage. Remember, without proper drainage, all of your time and money will be obliterated the first time a storm blows through and buries your precious landscape in six inches of water.
Evaluate privacy screens
Next, decide what areas of the yard you would like to screen. This may include a neighbor’s shed, an air conditioning unit or a pool pump, for example. Likewise, take the time to note areas that you would like to highlight, such as a beautiful view, a new deck, a pond or a fountain. Mark these features on your graph paper so that you can work your overall landscape concept around this feature.
What is the style of the garden?
Consider the aesthetic of the garden, as well. This may mean creating soft, curved beds instead of straight, geometrical ones. This may also include incorporating your turf grass, or adding areas of interest, such as an arbor or a porch swing. You can easily highlight these areas throughout your garden and make them a stopping point for visitors to admire.
Keep maintenance in mind
Consider maintenance when designing your landscape. Your landscape should not only be pleasing to the eye, but gentle on the body! If you have areas of turfgrass which are difficult to get to, or large beds with no easy way of accessing them, you are simply setting yourself up for long days in the garden. And this defeats the purpose of your landscape – you’re supposed to be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor instead of spending the day toiling away!
Incorporate the elements, family members, and pets
You may also want to consider screening your outdoor living area for extra privacy or to protect it from the wind and the sun. This will allow you to enjoy your landscape and the outdoors without running from the elements.
Finally, consider your children or pets (or neighboring children or pets) when designing your garden. It goes without saying that if you plant a lovely bed of annuals near the basketball hoop, your impatients will soon be smashed by a flying basketball. Likewise, if your pet’s run is near your newly planted hydrangeas, expect them to become damaged each time your puppy makes a pass to the backyard. Think simplistic, think practical, and have fun!