Landscaping Tips for Newbies

Did you buy a new home and are looking into landscaping your front or back yard?  It can be a daunting task.  You need to find someone to design it, and install it, and decide on what plants work in your climate that you actually like, in the shade, in the sun.  It is overwhelming.
Who has time to get a degree to do it yourself?  I am hoping the following tips will help you with coming up with some ideas and finding the right professional to help if you need one.

  1.  Learn the language of landscaping.  Just like when you go in to Starbucks and order your first coffee – you gotta know what you are ordering.  A grande espresso frappuccino light probably didn’t mean much until you asked a lot of questions and tried it a few times.  The same is true for landscaping.  The “elements” of landscape design are color, line, form, scale and texture.
  2. Understand the principles of garden design. They are proportion, unity and transition. You are going to want your plants to be arranged so they follow these principles. Proportion is probably exactly what you think it is.  It is the size of the plants or group of plants. Which means you don’t want to plant a Redwood in a lot the size of a postage stamp. Transition is more like the flow. You want gradual changes in heights of plants and walls as compared to your house. Unity is the harmony.  For example, you wouldn’t have desert plants in a backyard designed to look like you are living in Kauai. And, while you do want the everything to go together – being to matchy matchy is too much unity.
  3.  Know your plants.  There are annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and vines.  They all have different textures and color and seasons when they display their colors.  You will want to search online or go to a nursery to check all of the different plants out before you get your heart set on anything.  When you go into a new housing community everything looks so perfect and all of the landscaping seems to work just perfectly.  Go back 10 years later and you will see trees that are growing into roofs, vines taking over houses, giant trees in tiny backyards.  There are plants that didn’t make it because they were planted in the sun when they needed shade.  It is important that you think long term and that you get the right species.
  4. Privacy – Most often with houses being built closer and closer together we are looking for ways to create privacy.  You may want create a barrier between you and your neighbor, or block a view of an unpleasant sight or sound. Having your outside dinner party interrupted by the kids birthday next door is annoying.  You will want to check out plants that create a softscape ‘wall’.  There are hedges, bamboo plants, and trees. You will be happy to know that zoning restrictions typically do not apply to “living screens”.

This is only the beginning.  Keep coming back to my blog for more tips and information.

Check out this article on landscaping ideas.


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