A well-landscaped yard can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your property and increase your enjoyment of your home for many years to come. To help make sure your landscaping project is the best that it can be, whether you’re working with a professional landscaping company or tackling the project yourself, here are some key things to think about before you get started.
What will the space be used for?
Perhaps the most important thing you need to consider when embarking on the landscaping planning process is the question of how you want to use your landscape. Having a “big picture” vision of the kinds of activities you want to do in your newly landscaped yard will directly influence your other decisions and help guide you toward an overall plan that matches your needs and goals.
For example, are you planning to host big family barbecues in the space? Will you be using the landscape as a venue for entertaining clients or colleagues? Do you need room in the landscape for any outdoor hobbies or sports? Will you be planting the garden of your dreams? Or would you prefer a space that is more geared toward rest and relaxation?
Who will be using the space?
After you’ve figured out the “what” of your landscaping plan, the next point to consider is the “who.” Will the landscape be primarily for adult use, or will it need to accommodate young children as well? If you want both adults and children to enjoy the yard, it might make sense to think about creating separate zones if you have the space. If not, you’ll want to make sure your landscape can be flexible and multifunctional.
It’s also helpful to think about accessibility: will your landscape be used by people with mobility issues or people in wheelchairs? Finally, don’t forget about pets! Animals dictate landscaping decisions surprisingly often, so be sure not to leave them out of your considerations.
What conditions are you working with?
A successful landscaping plan takes into account the particular conditions of your property. If your landscaping vision isn’t based on the realities of your property, your location, and your climate, disappointment is the almost inevitable result. Important factors to think about include:
Environment and climate—Your regional climate will play a huge role in your landscaping plans. You’ll need to understand things like your area’s planting zone, local weather patterns, trends in temperature and humidity, and seasonality before you can make appropriate landscaping choices. If you’re doing your landscape planning by yourself, it could be worth consulting with a professional just for this step, to ensure you have all the right information.
Microclimates—A microclimate is a small area that has a slightly different climate from the wider region. Your yard, for instance, could have a subtly different microclimate from your neighbor’s due to things like variations in light and moisture levels. In landscaping terms, microclimates are typically organized into four categories: full sun, partial shade, shade, or deep shade. Pay attention to which of these microclimates can be found in your yard, and remember that there may be more than one!
Soil type—The soil type on your property may be mostly sand, clay, or rock, and each of these types will include a different mix of nutrients. Understanding your soil type can help you make sure you select plants that will be able to thrive in your space.
Drainage—The way water behaves on your property impacts both plants and hardscaping features such as paved areas or driveways. Notice areas in your yard where water pools and where it drains easily away, and adjust your landscape plan accordingly. Remember that whatever other choices you make, promoting water movement away from your home or any other structures on your property should be a priority.
How much maintenance are you prepared to do?
Any landscape, even a very basic one, will require some degree of regular maintenance, so it’s important that you consider how much landscaping work you’re willing to do every year to keep your property in peak condition. If you’re an avid gardener, for example, you might be happy to choose flowers and plants that require a lot of care, but those options won’t suit someone who doesn’t enjoy gardening or who travels away from home frequently. If you’re thinking about outsourcing your landscaping work to a professional company, you’ll need to make room for that ongoing cost in your household budget.
What style suits your home and your preferences?
It might surprise you to learn that style and aesthetics are one of the last things to consider when creating a landscape plan, but it makes sense when you think about it. Not every style will be compatible with every property or every family, so if you begin the planning process by thinking about style, you may end up with a landscape that has difficulty thriving. Instead, let the earlier, practical questions be your initial guide. Then, once you’ve established those details, you can have fun exploring styles that are a good fit with your needs and your property’s condition.