Wednesday January 2, 2013
Looking forward until winter's over so you can start enjoying spending time outside? Why wait? Start planning your new landscape design now! Start early, and you'll have plenty of time to put careful thought into your design, get it properly installed, and have it ready to enjoy by the time flowers start to bloom.
An even better reason to think about landscaping now is because your yard has to stand up through the rigors of all four seasons. (As we've seen so far this winter, that can include some very cold weather!) Thinking about your yard in terms of the most challenging climate can help create a landscape design you'll enjoy all year long.
Here are some steps to help you get started.
Start with the big picture.
Think about how you use your yard through all the seasons. Where will you need all-weather access or entry? Do you want to create indoor-outdoor connection with a paved patio or covered deck? Do you need a fence for more privacy? A special place for the kids to play? A vegetable garden? How about an outdoor kitchen? Think about all the different ways you currently, and ideally, would make use of the space. Then, consider the challenges in your yard. Are there soil or erosion issues that need to be addressed? Do you need a retaining wall? Better drainage? Make a list of all the things you want to consider. And don't forget to think about who's going to be maintaining it!
Start visualizing by make a rough sketch of your yard's shape. As you're thinking, be sure to designate areas for both greenery and hardscape. The hardscape is the non-planted part of your landscape design -- the pathways, patios, walkways and planters that frame the beds and guide you through your garden. Thoughtful integration of hardscape and greenery not only adds design interest but, by limiting the planting space, can make your yard much easier to maintain as well.
Narrow it down.
Now, go back and pick the colors and elements that most appeal to you. Start getting referrals to the professionals to help you. You especially want to speak with a pro regarding the hardscape features in your yard. Since pavers, walkways and patioswill be focal points within your landscape, it's a good idea to consult with an expert before making choices. A professional can help you develop your ideas, guide your choices of materials, and make sure what you have in mind is appropriate for your particular conditions. They'll help you make the most of your space - and your budget! A professional can also help focus your plant choices - and make sure the things you're thinking about will come together in a pleasing design.
See what you think.
By this time, you should have a clear design plan on paper, and a good idea of how you're going to use your yard. As you finalize your design plans, pick out samples of the Hardscaping™ - pavers, stones, fencing materials - and the dominate plant colors you're planning to use. Bring them home and see how they look together. Do they complement your house's color and style? You may be surprised at the impact small differences in color and texture make. Be sure to look at your choices outside.
See what other people have done. Drive around your neighborhood to get some big-picture ideas. Without flowers to distract you, you can really see how the hardscape creates a framework for the garden's foliage. Focus in on the hardscape details. See what a difference a driveway can make! Do you like the elegant look of smooth pavers? Are you drawn to the natural look of a stone retaining wall? Look at how walkways draw your eye to the house. Then, back at home, spend some time online taking a look at pictures. Remember that your garden has two parts - greenery and hardscape. Consider them both. And don't be selective -- yet! Notice everything that appeals to you and bookmark it. At this point, let yourself take it all in.It does take time to do landscape planning, which is why there's no time like the present to start. The good news is, thinking about your new landscape is a great way to pass long winter days.
Before you know it, spring will be here, and you'll be enjoying your outdoors in a whole new way. Have fun!