Ten Steps to a Successful Landscape Design

Spring is just around the corner and that means it’s time to start thinking about changes you might want to make to your landscape. Whether you’re interested in a complete redesign or simply making a few improvements, there are some important factors to consider before you start planting. Following these ten helpful steps will help in designing your landscapes and make you the envy of your neighborhood:

1. Know your yard

Keep in mind that the specific conditions of your yard are likely to create a microclimate based on the amount and length of sun and shade exposure the area receives. Microclimates are usually broken into one of four categories: full sun, partial shade, shade, or deep shade; this should be noted when selecting plants for your landscape. The topography of your site is important to consider as well as you plan; take note of how water drains in your landscape. The best landscape design will promote water movement away from your home towards other areas of your yard.

2. How will be you be using your yard?

Think about how you’ll will be using your yard. Will children be using it? Do you  have pets? Are you hoping to use your yard for outdoor entertaining? Remember you can create different spaces  for different uses in your landscape using different plantings and hardscapes. Walkways can be used to move people from one area to another. Since you will be using and maintaining your yard, consider what your maintenance style and budget are.  How much time will you  have to put into your landscape? Or if you won’t have the time will you have the money to pay someone else to put in the time? How much do you have to invest in your landscape? Determining answers to these questions will help with the success of your landscape for years to come.

3. Think about themes

Themes can be as simple as using consistent shapes or forms throughout your yard or as complex as creating a relaxation garden or an Oriental garden.When deciding on a theme for your yard, a good place to start is looking at the architecture of your home. Try to complement the lines and style of your home’s architecture in your yard; after all, your yard is an extension of your home. Themes can help guide how you place and select plants, decorations, hardscapes, and structures. Are you someone who wants lots of neat, geometric shapes and structures in you landscape? Do you want softer lines and a more natural feel to your space? Do you want a landscape to include only specific colors?

4. Create and link spaces

In order to get the most out of your yard, think of it as another room, or rooms, in your home. Just as a home has well defined and carefully planned rooms, so should your landscape; using your materials wisely allows you can create different “rooms” in your landscape. Don’t forget to think about how you’ll link your spaces. How will people move from one area of your yard to another? Create openings to encourage exploration in your yard and keep people moving throughout the landscape.

5. Make your plants work for you

Early in your planning you should determine how your plants will function in your landscape. Plants can be used in a number of ways, they can provide you with fresh flowers, beautiful scenery, lovely aromas, and much more. Plants can be used as barriers to define areas inside your landscape as well as identify where your landscape ends. You can use plants to create physical barriers in your landscape by blocking both views and access to an area. If you want to keep your views open, but maintain some barriers, low growing plants can be used to create implied barriers, blocking access but not the view. Correctly placed plants can also alter your landscape site conditions.  Temperature, light levels, and wind are greatly affected by the trees and plants in a landscape. The noises in your landscape can be affected by what you put into the design, such as water features or bird houses, as well as any physical barriers that keep your garden insulated from noises beyond your landscape.

6. Structure your plantings

Consider your various visual planes when selecting plants. Starting from the area above you, think about the overhead plane, this might include archways and trees. Moving on to the vertical plane, consider how closely spaced or far apart plants will be, how plants will be layered or staggered (generally larger plants are used behind smaller plants), as well as the individual and massed heights and widths of your plants. Don’t forget about the ground plane (including how smaller plants will be grouped and arranged as well as groundcovers and hardscapes). Repeating similar shapes and structures in your garden will give you a unified view throughout your space.

7. Highlight important points

Using unique plants, distinct structures, or garden ornaments allows you to highlight a particular area of your landscape. Contrasting shapes, textures, sizes, and colors will help to capture attention and direct it to a specific area.

8. Pay attention to detail

Plants, hardscapes, and garden ornaments all have their own visual effects, from various forms and shapes to an array of colors and textures. By thinking about how these visual details can be used to complement each other, you can create a cohesive and captivating landscape. Don’t just think about visuals; taking into consideration the scents of the plants you select for your landscape can enhance the experience you create for those in your garden. Think about when flowers will be blooming and fragrant, as well as what scents will complement each other in the landscape.

9. Think about the future

Take into account how time will affect your landscape plants. When selecting plants, make sure you consider the plant’s growth rate, maintenance needs, and its eventual mature size. Make sure you provide your plants with enough room to reach their mature size. The mature size is typically based on optimal growing conditions, your landscape’s specific conditions may cause a plant to grow larger or smaller.

10. Protect your resources

By choosing resource-efficient plants, consciously managing water, and choosing environmentally sound hardscapes, you can help protect and preserve your environment. Before removing plants from your landscape, determine whether these plants truly need to be removed, or if they could be relocated to another area of your yard. When selecting  new plants, look for water-efficient plants, ones that will require less water, fertilizers, and pesticides. When planning the changes to your landscape, consider installing a rainwater catchment system which will provide you with an environmentally sustainable source of irrigation water. With careful planning such a system can even be incorporated as an aesthetic design element to your landscape. If you need help regarding your landscape design, we at Garden Services are fully licensed & insured to handle all of your irrigation, landscaping, lawn maintenance and tree service needs whether it’s a residential, commercial or homeowner association property  If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email me and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Special thanks to UF/IFAS  extension offices  for there helpful information provided in this post.