By: Christina Timm
When it comes to landscaping it can be overwhelming on where to start. Not only are there so many hardscape options like patios, retaining walls, fountains, and stairs and the colors and styles of the material that creates them, but there is also the decision on what plant material is going to work. Will there be space for trees and shrubs or only enough room for perennials? With all these options to consider we wanted to help guide you in the right direction on where to get started.
Start by asking yourself these 5 top landscaping questions:
1. What do you want to do in your yard?
The first thing to think about before you start planning is what you want to do in your yard. Are you looking for a place to entertain? In this case, hardscape options like a patio where your guests can sit, or an outdoor kitchen to provide food and drinks are something to consider. Are you looking for a place to enjoy wildlife and plants? In this case, you really want to consider the space you have and how much plant material you are going to need for birds and pollinators. Maybe a stone pathway to guide you through your gardens is something of interest. Are you looking for a place to relax and unwind? In this case, creating a fountain to drown out neighboring noise and easy to care for plants will create a calming place to come home to at the end of a work day. Really take the time to consider what you want to be doing in your yard and this will start to narrow down what will work and what won’t work in your design.
2. How much maintenance do you want to be doing in your yard?
When you have a general idea about what you want to be doing in your yard, next think about how much up keep you are willing to contribute throughout the season. Do you want to be in your yard once a week? Planting annual containers and certain perennials are going to require more maintenance and dead heading. Do you want to be in your yard twice a month? Choosing shrubs and low-maintenance perennials like grasses will cut back on time spent in the garden, which means more time spent entertaining or relaxing. Do you want to be in your yard only six times a year? Planting trees, shrubs, and other plants that require very little maintenance at all will give you the maximum amount of time out of the garden. Keep in mind there is no such thing as a maintenance-free yard if you have plants. Trees, shrubs, and perennials do need water. Once they are established, they require less help from us, but it is still good to check in on them from time to time. Annuals are going to need the most care. Setting up an irrigation line will help cut back on the time-consuming task of watering.
3. My yard needs help, but do I really have to start over?
It depends. Look at what you have in your yard now and compare that to what you are hoping to accomplish. If you have plants now but are hoping to add a patio or fountain, that’s doable. If you have a good foundation started or had landscaping done a few years ago that’s starting to look rough, you might just need a rejuvenation. Landscaping and especially gardening are an ongoing process. We like something for a few years and then decide to freshen up with something new. This is especially true when it comes to shrubs and perennials. We choose a plant for a specific reason and when it doesn’t perform the way we want it to, or it exceeds our expectations, then it’s time for a change.
4. What’s the best time to begin a landscape project?
Trick question! The best time to start planning a landscape project is always. It’s always fun to dream up something new. The best time to start digging in the dirt would be spring or fall. Both have benefits. If you start your landscape project in the spring, you will be able to find all the materials you need to complete the project and your plant material will have all summer to establish before the winter. Also, when you complete the project you will be able to enjoy it for the remainder of the summer. If you start your landscape project in the fall you will have the summer to see how plants bloom and get to know their growing habit by visiting your local nursery before you commit. Also, you are more likely to find materials at a discount towards the end of the season if you are on a tight budget.
5. Why do I need to hire a professional landscaper?
You don’t, however, doing so will make your life so much easier. There are some things that can be DIY’ed, but when it comes to working on hardscape projects like patios, outdoor kitchens, and retaining walls, having the right equipment and knowledge is crucial for executing a great finished product. Not only that, but a professional is going to see and understand the bigger picture. They are going to be designing not only for today, but for 5 to 10 years from now. They will know how to incorporate proper plant material into a design that also features hardscape elements, as well as creating a space that is meant to be used as an extension of your home and add value.