Every great landscape, no matter how large or small, starts with a plan, an idea, a fusion between your personality and the style of your home. Whether your tastes are formal or naturalistic, utilize a straight-forward planning process to formulate your landscaping design. Examine current site conditions. These would include your house orientation as related to hours of sunlight, utilities above and below ground, drainage and grading, soil types, views, and USDA hardiness zone 8a, 8b, 9a or 9b. Note the location and health of existing plants, trees and shrubs. Determine a budget. Consider the architectural style of the home.
There are two general styles of landscaping: informal and formal. The informal style is characterized by curved paths, irregular shapes and placements of plants and a more naturalistic way of pruning, rustic materials (rough cut timbers, branch ties, mulched paths). The formal style has straight lines and geometric shapes, orderly rows, highly defined pruning and smooth materials (urns, statuary, fountains). Of the two styles, formal is typically the most expensive and laborious to maintain but achieves a classic look. The informal style can be easier to maintain because growth habits are allowed to be more natural.
Use paper or a free online app to draw your site to scale. Books from the library can show you how. Make copies of the scale drawing while preserving the original. Next, decide which style best suits you and your family’s needs. Do you have pets? Children? Hobbies that require outdoor space? A Pool? Do you entertain? Perhaps you wish to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Make a list so nothing is missed and label the scale drawing with notes.
Layout your wants and needs on a copy of your scale site drawing. The idea is to loosely denote the items from your needs list onto your site. The vegetable garden could be a circle or oval. The patio could be a square. Try different versions until finding one that best fits all your needs. Refine the loose circles by deciding which characteristics are desired. Flowering, evergreen/deciduous, color, and size. Once you are happy with the placement and characteristic types on paper, you can select which plants and material to buy.
The benefits of having a plan saves time, money, and labor offering greater satisfaction because the plants and materials were chosen for a purpose. Spend time learning your site and discover your style by looking at other gardens online or in person. Take a garden tour, become a master gardener or join a garden club to stay inspired. Happy Growing!