Updated: Dec 15, 2020
With the coming of warmer weather, many of us find ourselves wandering outside, thinking about landscaping. Ok, some of us more then others... I actually think I have a condition that prevents me from thinking about much else in the spring. But have you asked yourself recently, where you would begin with a landscape plan? There are many things to consider when you begin a new landscape design. Following these simple steps can create a beautiful plan.
1) Sunlight: How much light do my beds or future beds truly get? I recommend doing a little test. On a day that you plan to be home all day, set a timer to go off every hour. Walk around and take notes on the sunlight. Sun or shade for every area. Look at google maps to figure out which way is true north? That will be the shadiest side of your house.
2) Think about how you use your outdoor space: This is very important to consider. Where do I want to grow vegetables? Where do I want animals? Where do my kids play? What do I see from my window? What do people see from the road? Where do we BBQ, eat and relax outdoors. Draw a little map. This can be a rough sketch. Focus on the hardscape. House, road, driveway, any outbuildings or sheds, large trees, & sidewalks. Basically anything that can not be moved. Next write in the areas. How you use or plan to use each area? Vegatble garden, play area, BBQ area, animals, etc.
3) Plants: Where do I want to add in flower beds? The most important thing in this consideration is curb appeal and window view. What do people see from the road and when they drive up to our home? And what do I get to look at every morning with my morning coffee. Then think about what areas need some beauty added. Maybe there is a neighbors home that you want some privacy from. Or an ugly side of your home that needs a distraction. Start drawing in beds on your sketch. Make sure you write in notes on all the details that you think of.
4) Think of how much you like or have time for gardening: Do you want something low maintenance? Then trees and shrubs are what you should focus on. Or do you want medium maintenance? Maybe you love to garden but your stage of life prevents you from having much time for it. Trees, shrubs and only a few perinneals should be your focus. Or maybe you are like me and you could get lost outdoors scratching around in the dirt. If this is you, I encourage you to first focus on trees and shrubs and only your top 10 favorite flowers. You can always add later. OR maybe you already have a lot of plants but you are feeling like there is no rhyme or reason to your beds. For you, I recommend starting with a list of all plants you already have in each bed.
5) Get ideas: Look online or in your neighborhood at yards/ gardens/ plant combinations. Save a file of pictures on your computer of all the things you love. Then do a little reasearch and figure out names of your favorites.
6) Make a spreadsheet of your plant list: Add info about each one. Name, type, light requirements, size (width & height), grow rate, and average price. This will take some time and research but don't rush. This is very important. A website that I use a lot for this is Monrovia.
7) Draw things to scale: Get out your large graph paper and start measuring. Another option is to pull up google maps and you can actually take measurements on it. Once you get things to scale it is easier to see how you want to shape beds. When shaping beds, keep mowing in mind. It is better to shape your grass than your beds in some cases. Keeping things curvy makes for much easier mowing and is gentler on the eye. But your style might be more straight lines and that is ok too!
An example of drawing to scale on graph paper (layer 1). I actally use 2 layers of thin tracing paper on top of the graph paper to add in beds with measurements (layer 2) and then the plants (layer 3).
8) Adding in plants: When adding in plants, pay close attention to light requirments, size and growth rate. Also get a good mixture of evergreen and deciduous. Try to add more evergreen in the front of your home to keep things looking nice year round. Also choose evergreen for privacy year round or when you need to hide something. Go back to your file of likes to get inspiration and plant combinations.
9) Have fun with it: It is ok if you don't get it right the first time. Plants can always be moved! So much of gardening is trial and error. You might do all the research and still have some plants die. It is ok! I have had my fair share of error. But I definitely learn better from it. I don't usually make the same mistake twice.
Maybe now you are thinking, it all sounds good but way too time consuming or overwhelming. Or, maybe you have no interest at all in gardening but just want to improve the curb appeal of your home. We can help! We have experience in landscape design and would love to help you get a plan on paper. We also use a really cool app that lets you take actual pictures and put in the plants so you can get a great visual of what it would actually look like.
This is a recent landscape project that I did. It is sure rewarding to use Iscapes to get a visual when I am done with the design!