Idea Landscaping for Beginners
and Experienced Gardeners




Let's get started with your step-by-step plan!

FORM YOUR PLAN

Start with whatever element is most important to you (trees, flowers, water elements, etc.), and plan around those.

If you have no landscaping or very little, walk your property and decide where you want all of your landscaping elements:

* trees and what kind

* beds (shade, sun, or a combination of the two)

* decorative (bird baths, statuary,etc.) *** Keep decorative elements and container plants to a minimum if your yard is small as it can easily end up looking ill-planned and cluttered.

* walkways, dog runs, etc.

* patios, water areas (pools, ponds, waterfalls)

* recreational areas

* any additional uses you have planned for your outdoor living space


"SEGMENT" OR BLOCK-BY-BLOCK METHOD

Another approach I use is to visualize my yard in "segments". For example, one segment would be the areas on either side of your front door. Another would be around a pool, another maybe an area between your patio and fence that's just right for a small bed -- sort of a block-by-block concept.


BASIC ELEMENTS OF GOOD DESIGN

As you form your master plan, keep in mind the following:

* scale (example - no tiny beds for a huge yard, a giant commercial sized pot or lamp post for a really small yard, or a two-story house with a tiny tree in front!).

Also, plantings and decorative items should be appropriate for your yard and size of your beds.

* Balance - You wouldn't want a large tree or pool on one side of your yard and nothing to balance it out on the other, or a few tall flowers in a bed of very short ones.

* Color - Keep in mind the colors of your house when deciding on colors for flowers, flowering trees and shrubs. You probably wouldn't want to have orange flowers with a pink-toned house. Colors can create an emotional impact. Soothing color combinations can be restful; bright colors can be stunning and exciting.

* Line - Your design should flow smoothly. I like to use curved beds a lot because they naturally draw the eye to the next area of your landscape.

* Water needs Don't put flowers that need little water in a bed with others or with trees that need a lot, or some of them are going to be very unhappy!

* Theme - keep your plantings and yard art as similar in type as possible. No garden gnomes with roman statues or tall skinny cypress trees with palm trees.

* Focal point - Just as in a painting, a good focal point really draws attention to your garden. I have a larged circular bed with curved borders in my front yard (see my home page) with a couple of trees, shrubs, and a lot of flowers. I get more compliments on that than anything else in my landscape. A focal point in your back yard might be a pool, a waterfall or a pond.

* Maintenance Requriements Everything I do in my garden I think ahead of the type of care it will need and how I can make it as care-free as possible.

* LAYERING

Another element that is always evident in great landscapes is "layering". It makes your landscape look incredibly lush and very appealing. I like beds that have a mid-sized hedge in the back, a smaller hedge or taller, bushy flowers such as begonias in front of the mid-sized hedge for the second "level", regular height flowers (about 6") in front of that, and last, a border flower (about 2").

The only exception would be a cottage-type garden with more free-style type flowers such as Day Lillies or Irises, but again, you still would want to at least "group" flowers by their general height so it doesn't appear haphazzard or messy.

Here's some additional suggestions:

- Have a good base of perennial flowers that will be there year after year so your bed is half-way there every spring!

- Keep in mind how much weed-eating/edging will be required as you plan and try to lessen that where you can. Here's a few tips:

* I live on a corner, so I have a long fence-line at the back with about 12" of grass. I put in lava rock and thin metal edging at the sidewalk so there's no mowing or edging needed there. * I also have 3 Bradford Pears on the parkway that kill the grass beneath them. A good resolution for this area was to use Hostas under the trees which are beautiful, love the shade and require no edging. I did put a metal edging around these as well to keep the dirt off the sidewalk and the grass from the edges of the Hosta area.

*My yard is very large, so on the side by the street, I built a curved brick walk with some Slash Pine Trees, a beautiful Oklahoma Redbud, and English Ivy inside that.

It left a "natural bed" between the brick walk and the entry area to my back yard which I fill with Impatiens every year.

I do have to edge the ivy on the inside of the walk; however, the shade of the trees keeps the grass around the edges sparse so there's very little edging required outside the walk, and it created a very large area that doesn't need mowing as well.