Planning a Landscape in 7 Steps

Creating a beautiful landscape takes time.

A landscape should be both beautiful and functional for the people who use it. Home renovation shows make it look easy, but good landscaping takes a lot of time and planning. Before you break ground, be sure you’ve considered each of the following steps in the landscaping process.

1. What Do You Need?

Think about how you plan to use the space. Do your kids need somewhere to play? Are you hoping to start a vegetable garden? How often do you have friends and family over for dinner? These answers should inform the decisions you make regarding your landscape. Don’t forget to consider special needs, such as pollen allergies and the need for wheelchair access.

2. What Do You have?

Many landscaping mistakes occur because the person forgot to consider the space they’re working with. It’s worth the time to study the sun, wind, and drainage patterns of your yard before you start planning the landscape. For instance, you may not want to put a patio in an area that gets tons of sunlight, but a vegetable garden would go great there.

3. Consider Maintenance

How much time and money are you willing to spend keeping your landscape beautiful? Think about how much effort it’ll take to mow that lawn, water those flowers, and weed that garden bed. You can cut the time you spend on maintenance by adding some low-maintenance plants, like shrubs and trees, and covering areas of lawn with a patio.

4. Sketch it Out

While you surely have a vision of the perfect yard, it can be hard to visualize the steps you need to take to make it come together. Once you’ve decided what need from the space, draw an overhead map of your yard on a piece of graph paper and start sketching it out.

5. Start with the Hardscape

Hardscaping refers to elements of the landscape that will remain static, like a porch, sidewalk, driveway, deck, fence, patio, or rocks. Adding the hardscape usually involves some construction, so you should get it done before you start planting.

6. Lay the Soil

It takes time for plants to grow in and look their best, but you can speed up the process and ensure your plants take root by adding good soil with organic matter. Loose, fertile soil will help your new plants establish quickly. The DIY Network recommends using a garden hose to lay out the lines of your garden beds, then use orange spray paint to mark the lines before you put down soil.

7. Choose the Right Plants

Your choice of plants will depend on your personal preference and the climate where you live. However, there are a few key points for greenery success in any landscape:

  • Plant to compliment your house. Put low-growing shrubs and plants in front of low windows an porches, and larger plants at the corners of the house to help frame it.
  • Plant around focal points. Choose a stand-out feature that draws the eye, like a tree, sculpture, rock, or shrub, and coordinate your flower beds around it.
  • Plant with variety. Select plants of various sizes, shapes, and colours to make your landscape interesting. Spread them throughout the yard to pull the design together.