CGM Property Services
CGM Property Services
CGM Property Services

Plan Your New Landscape

The first step to having a beautiful landscape is developing a good plan. Whether you are designing a landscape yourself or hiring a professional, a good plan will allow you to create an area that works for your needs and plan to execute it. Some key components to beginning your landscape design process include recognizing your needs, creating a base map, drafting a design, and implementing your plan.

Determine Your Needs

Often people approach landscaping haphazardly, buying attractive plants they see in a nursery and planting them somewhere they may latter regret. The first step in planning a landscape is to decide what you want it to be. Here are a few common interests to consider:

  • Curb and window appeal. Improve the view to and/or from your house.
  • Create an outdoor living space. Disguise your garden from public view and create outdoor living rooms.
  • Provide recreation opportunity. Design a play area or structures for children or pets.
  • Entertain your friends. Establish outdoor cooking and sitting areas.
  • Attract wildlife to your garden. Create a backyard habitat for birds and butterflies.

Now, not all of these benefits will be sought after from everyone. Depending on a person’s landscape, design, or plant preference, the emphasis will differ.

Landscape use preference
  1. Backyard area for entertaining or dining
  2. Active play area with hard surface or lawn
  3. Private areas to read, tan, or reflect.
  4. Wildlife habitat for birds or butterflies.
  5. Edible garden
  6. Pet friendly

Design preferences:
  1. View(s) you want to keep or hide.
  2. Outdoor decking or patio area.
  3. Fence or gate in your garden.
  4. Outdoor lighting.
  5. Grill or cooking area.
  6. Planters, sculptures, or rocks.
  7. Water features.

Plant preferences:
  1. Shade tree.s
  2. Ground cover.
  3. Lawn.
  4. Spring/fall/summer flowering shrubs.
  5. Vegetable or herb garden
  6. Fruit trees.

When considering what landscape ideas will work for you, also be sure to consider some of the following limitations:

  • What level of maintenance are you willing to commit too?
  • Will you hire a professional to install or maintain it or will you do it yourself?
  • Are there existing property conditions that may affect your design?
  • Are there home owners associations, neighbor, or other factors that may affect your plan?

Creating a Base Map

Creating a Base Map

The next step is to inventory your property’s existing features and put them on a base map. A base map is an overhead view of your property in which you can use to later sketch out ideas for your landscape design.

  • Property boundaries and dimensions
  • An outline of your home, driveway, patios, and other structures
  • Property orientation in order to determine the sun/shade patterns
  • Any other tree’s, existing shrubbery, or areas in which are un-usable for your new landscape design

Layout Your Design

Once you have established your usable area within your property, you are ready to layout your design. Don’t select your plat verities just yet. Simply deciding location, height, and type of plant are sufficient. Some general tips when designing your layout:

  • Keep it simple. Complex designs result in more maintenance and overcrowding
  • Provide adequate width for your bed. A generous width will give your plants room to grow into their natural shape, reducing maintenance.
  • Use plants to screen unsightly views and create privacy. A natural hedge can provide privacy from neighbors or busy roads. Grasses can be used to hide electrical boxes or water meters.

If you are having difficulty designing your layout on paper, take your thoughts to the yard and mock up the beds. You can use your garden hose, string, or paint to outline beds and see how they look in your current yard. This will help you get a better feel for the space required, and what room you have left for other uses. Leave these markers up for a few days to see how they feel with foot traffic.

Choosing the Right Plants

Choosing the individual plants can sometimes be the most rewarding part of designing your new landscape. The key to success is selecting the right plant for the right place.

A list of the basic plant material you have to work with:

Choosing the Right Plants
  • Trees – Trees will typically have the largest design impact
    • Evergreen trees provide strong textural statements and are often used for screens or backgrounds.
    • Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter and will want summer shade and winter sun.
  • Large Shrubs – Shrubs can range in height anywhere from 1 foot to 15 feet. There is a wide variety of shrubs adapted for different climates (dry to moist, hot to cold) and therefor offer many choices for your garden.
  • Vines – Vines provide an inexpensive screen with color and interest. They are usually grown on fences, arbors, or trellises.
  • Low-growing shrubs and perennials – Arrange these plant types in a group of like species.
  • Ornamental Grass – Grasses provide a versatile choice for your garden. They are very tolerant shrubs that can serve a variety of purposes.
  • Ground cover – Ground cover will tie the plant layout together and can often be used in place of lawn.
  • Annuals, perennials, herbs, and vegetables – Annuals such as pansies and impatient only last one year and must be replanted. They are often used as a focal point of a garden which provides seasonal color. Perennials such as day lilies, iris, and hostas come back year after year and are available in a wide variety of flower color and foliage. If you want to grow vegetables, reserve an area with full sun and rich cultivated soil.

The key to a successful landscape project is choosing the right plant for the right place on your property. Selecting plants that are adapted to your local conditions should grow better, require less maintenance, and require fewer inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides. When selecting the right plants for your area, be sure to also consider these factors:

  • Climate – Be sure to always consider the fact that your shrubs will endure a harsh winter and must be tolerant to the temperature and extreme conditions we have.
  • Microclimate – Consider the microclimate of your yard such as sun or wind exposure.
  • Water needs – Group plants in your landscape design accordingly with their water needs so they can be watered efficiently.
  • Soil and drainage – Consider the soil preference of the plants you select. If there are plantings near a house, drainage, or gutters, be sure the water is irrigated appropriately.
  • Placement in the landscape bed – Know the plant’s growth potential and provide adequate space to reach its maximum width and height.

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