We just bought a house and the “landscape” consists of a few trees and a weird assortment of shrubs here and there. Where should we start?
All of us long for a yard out of Southern Living or Architectural Digest. In reality, most of us inherit something between The Jungle Book and Grapes of Wrath, so let’s do an overview of how to start a home landscape plan.
DESIGN PROCESS Unless you already know the principles of design or have a plan in your hand, visiting the nursery with your pocketbook instead of your notebook is an exercise in frustration. Even if you have the luxury of a local, independent nursery with appropriate plant materials for your area AND great advice on how to use them, hold off on going there. Nurseries sell gazing balls, not crystal ones. The answers to “how many” and “which kind” can’t be answered by anyone till you know what the purpose of each plant will be in your landscape.
- 1st STEP Section your home’s landscape into three parts: PUBLIC (street side, or accessible to passersby), PRIVATE (often the backyard, but any area invited guests will see), and SERVICE (where you keep things you need but don’t want others to see). Sometimes necessity dictates locating service items in the public or private areas, but don’t add to a utility box’s obviousness by planting geraniums around it!
- 2ND STEP Look honestly at each of these spaces and note anything you can move to better segregate items into their designated areas. Will bringing the fence three feet forward hide the trash can? Is the 1′ turquoise tile birdbath from your mother-in-law a good fit in front of your 3-story Cape Cod home or better in the rose garden out back? Take into consideration style, size/scale, and purpose to decide where items should be placed, or if they should be in your landscape at all. You’ll be surprised the immediate difference a few small changes will make.
- 3RD STEP Take a personal inventory of what you need to make your landscape more usable year round. Do you need sit-down dining for 10 or will a couple of comfortable chairs and a side table be sufficient? How about something to bring in wildlife, or keep it away? Would you like a beautiful view out of specific windows or to erase the vision of your neighbor’s car on blocks? Write your wish list down and rate them as to what’s most important.
We’ll go over the steps to drawing up a landscape plan that fits any budget, but feel free to COMMENT or SEND PHOTOS with specific questions about your home landscape plan in the meantime. And if you’re in the Houston area, come see me at the SUGAR LAND HOME AND GARDEN SHOW on Saturday, January 21st where I’ll show you how to revive your DROUGHT-STRICKEN yard!