Plan To Landscape Your Own Yard And Garden
Here is a quick course in planning your landscape- what to think about and where to find your information.
There is so much excellent tutorial information available that any homeowner can design and install their own beautiful landscape if they wish to do it on their own.
Why would you? Well, economic reasons for one – landscaping is one of the best ways to increase the value and sale-ability of your home, and it will save a great deal of expense to learn to do it yourself. You may just find it to be the beginning of your own gardening passion.
It also is very useful information if working with a professional landscaper- to better convey your wishes and enjoy the results.
Are you a homeowner? Are you interested in residential landscaping? This post is for you!
Landscape Basics – First things first
There are a few pieces of information to start out with when you are planning a landscape.
Know your climate zone.
This is fairly easy to find out in general. Look up your location on a climate zone map.
Additionally there are mini climate zones on your property, take time to observe these to know which areas are hardest hit by frost, or which are prone to dry conditions, etc.
Know your soil
A county extension agent can tell you the most information most easily, but you can also purchase a soil test kit and perform easy experiments. Explanation of the results are widely available once you know the pH and the consistency of your soil. This is important to know when choosing plants, and keeping them healthy.
One very easy way to know more about your yard’s soil profile is to purchase a soil test kit. Run the tests for soil pH, and nutrients to find out the information you need for planting.
The simple ways to test your soil aren’t as scientifically accurate as those from your government agency, but they will give you a decent “ball park” understanding of the conditions of your garden.
Know your own limits.
A personal assessment only you can make.
From the size of your budget to the degree of energy you wish to invest in your yard, this is vital information that only you can determine.
Know How To Find Your Plants
You don’t need to know much about plants, but you should know good source of plant information for planning and planting, as well as maintaining your landscape. Start a garden bookshelf with a few good books. Keep a list of the website you find most informative. Start a garden journal to keep track of plant and tree ideas you want to put into your landscape plan.
- Must have reference book: American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants (The American Horticultural Society)
- Check this site: Plants of Merit, Plant Finder
- Environmental Concepts 1662 Professional Soil Test Kit with 40 Tests
Figure Out What You Want
Write down a list of all the things you want -to do in your yard and what you want it to do for you. No matter how long the list, or how crazy the dream! It’s just a list- and you can put down everything you ever wanted in a yard. This will help you make decisions about putting your yard to work for you.
Next prioritize the features that are really important to you and your family. Is grilling an outdoor meal more important than a flower bed? Then arrange the ideas in the order you want to consider their implementation. You may still want a cutting garden, or one with fresh herbs, but allow the service areas of your landscape become evident.
This will also help you schedule projects, since most of us can’t have everything finished all at once.
What Do You Want From Your Yard?
Your property isn’t just land, it is living space, play space, and utility space.
A great landscape plan will incorporate everything into a cohesive plan to help you and your family get the most from it.
Plan your dream spaces: a firepit? Vegetable garden? Playground? Swimming pool? Outdoor kitchen?
The list of possibilities is quite long, but the priorities of your own lifestyle distills the plan into the important focus of the goals and layout.
Garden Plan The Easy Way
The Essential Garden Design Workbook: Second Edition
If you don’t know where to start and want to end up with professional quality results, you might find this workbook as good as taking a course in landscape design.
Yard Components – The Landscape Puzzle
Fit them together to make your plan.
The three main components of your yard are the hardscape, the fences, paths, walls, driveways, and lighting; the plantings, all the living growth in the garden; and the way you wish to use the space.
Fitting together the pieces to create the whole effect that you and your family will best enjoy is the finished product of your planning and efforts.
- Land use
After deciding what you want, the hardscaping is installed… create the walkways, the patio, the walls, raised beds, whatever is needed to contain and move through the spaces you have planned. Place lighting, fences, arbors, and then you are ready for the fun part- planting.
These range from the most permanent, trees to the least, annual flowers. A healthy mix of heights: trees, shrubbery, flowers, lawn, will give form and grace to the property. The planning for this is where you will induct the help of landscaping books, garden nursery advisers, county extension agents, landscapers, etc. to give input and information.
Have you thought of how you will use your garden at night? Providing lighting might make it your favorite time to enjoy your yard. Consider safety lighting, but also mood lighting. Lights can play up a certain favorite tree or fountain.
The right lighting adds enjoyment to the whole landscape after dark.
Don’t overlook this important element when planning your landscape. Besides safety, the lighting along a path or a deck area gives ambiance and invites you to enjoy an evening in the garden.
Rooms Create Opportunity
Another concept that is helpful in creating a pleasing landscape design is the idea of making “rooms”. These are garden spaces divided by hedges, wall, or trees- simply some sort of visual divider. Within the room created there can be a certain theme, color, or use.
These spaces create opportunity for different activities, moods, or emphasis on a certain season. Not limited to only those themes, this division of the garden can organize it and make the most of small yards, as well.
A room for gatherings around a firepit, for example or for a patio to dine in. A children’s are or a cutting garden hidden away from the main part of the garden.
To change the theme or color emphasis of your garden, to provide sanctuary or a little mystery, garden rooms can be part of your plan.
The Local Nursery
Make friends with your local plant nursery, and I don’t mean Lowes. the people working in a smaller locally owned nursery are more invested in you, the customer, and are likely knowledgeable about the growing conditions you will encounter in your area. They may turn out to be your garden’s best friend. Sometimes they offer free design help.
Plantings in three levels
Create privacy and visual interest
A few simple concepts taken from the pages of landscape designers are easy to learn and and useful for making decisions in your yard and maintaining the balance of maturing plantings.
3 VISUAL LEVELS
- Plantings for the yard consist of three main levels. The topmost will be the trees, ranging from fifteen feet to house height, and more.
- Mid-level is where the eye next rests: the ornamental trees and larger to medium size shrubs.
- Lowest level is ground level and most of the perennial and annual plantings, groundcovers, flowering bulbs, and all such features are on this level.
Structures And Features (Hardscaping Plus Plants)
An Arbor Can Look Amazing
Creating structure and vertical interest is a way to really give your garden a professional look. It is a way to include flowering vines, a bit of romance, and often fragrance. Planting climbing roses, clematis, or honeysuckle vines would accomplish this as they are trained up your arbor, or on a trellis attached to the house or other building.
Made of premium weather-resistant vinyl, it should weather the elements well.
- Garden Paths
Examples of pretty garden paths made of varying materials.
Among the best garden ornaments, these artful features both decorate the garden and create necessary support for wildlife. Birds, butterflies, and other animals all need a source of water for drinking and bathing. There are many types of water features, some best for birds, others for insects or amphibians.
Don’t restrict your landscape plan to just one! These are wonderful focal points, too.
More about adding birdbaths to your garden.
Bird Feeders and Houses
If you love birds, then many of the accessories you choose to add will cater to their needs for feeding stations, water, and housing. Luckily those accessories can some of the most charming objects imaginable!
I would want them to decorate the garden spaces even if they weren’t “for the birds”.
Garden ornaments are a topic all in themselves, and if you have a theme or style you wish to create it will give you ornament ideas.
The only rule is to not stuff too many into your space, although that may be tempting. Focus in on the ones you really love and highlight them within areas of the garden where they will get the attention they need.
I believe every garden should have a bench or two. Places to sit and listen to sounds of the garden and to enjoy the scents and the view. The older I get the more I appreciate well placed seating; not only to enjoy views, but for rest between tasks, and spots for meditation breaks.
Invest in Time-Saving Equipment
Not to mention how much effort they save, use tools like hedge trimmers, leaf vacuums, and tillers to help accomplish the work far more quickly and save time.
If you own your home, and plan to stay there for years, invest in yard maintenance equipment. If you are not sure how long you will remain there, rented equipment is available in most areas.
Be sure to take advantage of power tools, which will make your jobs much easier.
My review of a leaf vacuum tells the story of ‘Why I Can’t Live Without A Leaf Vacuum’.
- How Did I Live Without A Leaf Vacuum?
Do you find raking leaves more of a chore than you bargained for? I love trees, and my property is a large one with grassy spaces and large trees- many of which I planted. I don’t regret any of the beautiful trees that grow in my landscape. …
My Short List of Best Garden Landscaping Books
Books like “Understanding Garden Design” are the homeowners best friend. Tips, techniques, and ideas give guidance for projects and maintenance of the gardens.
The Best Garden Landscape Book – Resource Must
Read my thorough review of this book, ‘Understanding Garden Design.’
Think of this book as a “mini landscape design course”. It covers an amazing amount of design, how-to, and planting guidance to be the one book you should really have on your bookshelf if you have a home.
Design Inspiration – Learn from the Experts
One of the Best Books on Garden Plants – Knowing and Growing
The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques
Hands down, one of the best plant books for the home gardener. Great information and easy to follow instruction from a garden writer who has taste and skill in creating beautiful landscapes.
Gertrude Jekyll- Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden: From the Archives of Country Life
Everyone loves English gardens, and the woman who designed the garden in the way we most recognize as an English garden was Gertrude Jekyll. One of her garden admonitions: Plant in drifts to mimic the natural manner of plants.
Christopher Lloyd- Succession Planting for Year-round Pleasure
Another English Garden writer who encouraged adventurous color combinations and imagination in planting. His purple and orange flowering harmonies still resound with modern excitement.
Tracy DiSabato-Aust – The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques
An American gardener-designer who advocates mixed plantings, and using plants that have good looks and healthy constitutions.
More about Garden Book Authors…
Sometimes you need to just find ideas to refresh your view of what you want in your landscape. This is a great idea book.
Home Landscaping Book – The best in my opinion
It has moved to first place on my short list of the most helpful books to have on hand for your home landscaping library. If you garden, you will use this book often. It must be said that this is not a “how-to” book. There are very few plans for structures or steps to making paths or any of the other projects that some books like to incorporate. This is a book to help understand and plan a beautiful landscape.
A book that is both interesting and beautiful, it will teach you about how to design your own landscape with plenty of illustrations, plans, and explanations. Inspiring , yet practical, not just a simple pretty book, but it certainly is pretty and filled with photos of great gardens,
#1 Tip For A Beautiful Landscape – Improve Your Soil With Compost
Making your own compost is not only a good way to recycle yard and kitchen waste, but it is an inexpensive way to amend your soil to give plants a boost with humus. I don’t know of any plant that isn’t improved with added compost, and this bin seems to be one of the most innovative and easy to handle. (I’m not an expert on all the types of compost bins, but look at the video and see for yourself).
Your Home Landscape Investment
Originally posted by Ilona Erwin as Ilona1 on Squidoo (now closed) on 10/10/11.