Landscaping planning is essential for do-it-yourselfers. Before you proceed with a landscape design on paper, you should first read these valuable DIY landscape tips. Landscape design starts with landscaping planning when you walk a property, “thinking like a landscaper”.
What is “thinking like a landscaper” and how does it benefit you with do-it-yourself landscaping?
“Thinking like a landscaper” is the ability to capture all the aspects of your yard and apply them to a design that is practical and functional.
Landscaping planning will benefit you in a few different ways:
This article is about landscape planning, not designing, but the two go hand in hand. The less planning that is done, the more time and money you will spend on modifications that should have been caught in the planning stages.
Using this article and our site to help you
Let's say you want to come up with a great back yard design. Browse our photo gallery for great backyard ideas. Read this article on planning and our article on backyard landscaping design. Combine all the ideas with the tips from our articles to come up with a practical and fuctional design for your back yard ideas.
Make notes along the way
An experienced landscaper or designer will always walk a property of a client taking pictures, notes, or mental notes of everything in the yard. This is what allows him to give accurate quotes.
If something is missing in the landscaping planning stage, it will cost time, money, or grief with the client down the road.
Let's take a relatively simple task like sodding a yard, and look at it with, and without proper planning. This will give you a better perspective on what goes on in this industry. Just like any other industry, there are good people doing great work, and there are unqualified people doing poor work.
With proper planning:
Existing soil conditions, drainage and slopes are considered and accounted for. A minimum of 4 to 6 inches of quality loam is used. This makes for the basis of a beautiful deep rooting and thriving lawn. This lawn will resist weeds, droughts, require less chemical treatments, and fertilizers.
If your existing soil is extremely poor, you may have to excavate and remove it. If this allows you to have the proper depth of high quality loam/topsoil, then do it. Spend some money now, or twice as much later.
Where, and what type of grass is important information to know. Under trees, heavily shaded areas, and between or against houses can be challenging places to grow grass. Along the edge of driveways and walkways where heavy snow, ice and salt accumulate, can also be a challenge.
Landscaping planning allows for alternative ground covers in these areas to be installed now.
Landscape fabric, rock or mulch beds, and edging are used with perennials, annuals, and trees to make a beautiful and practical yard. Doing it properly now will save you from a yearly battle of poor growth, dead patches, weeds, and eventually having to do it over again.
Without proper landscaping planning:
Soil and sod is ordered, then poorly graded with a thin layer of loam over a poor quality base (most often clay). Drainage is poor, and the lawn frequently has standing water. The sod looks great the first year, until the root system extends down through the thin layer of loam.
The second year, the roots struggle in the poor soil, and money is wasted on expensive chemicals and fertilizers (which will not help the situation).
The grass under the trees never does very well, and is replaced with another ground cover down the road.
After reseeding along the edge of the driveway for a few seasons, the owner eventually rips it out and puts down landscape fabric and some mulch with a few perennials.
The sod placed between his house and his neighbour's house was also a waste of money and never grew. It has to be replaced with landscape fabric, rock or mulch, and a stone walkway.
Every time one of these projects was redone, existing areas of the yard were trampled by equipment thereby costing even more money in repairs.
Where does the idea of "landscaping planning" come from?
These are just a few of the things that keep landscape companies in business. We actually get the phone calls to come in and repair, rebuild, redo, or replace the things that could have been avoided with proper landscaping planning.
Customer B that didn't plan properly was bragging to his neighbour (Customer A) that it cost him $1,200 dollars to finish his yard, as opposed to Customer A who initially spent $1,800. The problem is, Customer B who planned poorly spent an additional $2,000 over the next five years to have the same yard as Customer A.
Do it right once the first time.
Hopefully, you can see the importance of landscaping planning and spending a little bit more up front in the preparation stages. Sometimes driving around and looking at other properties may help you with your own yard. You will be able to pick up on positive features in any yard as well as noticing poorly done work.
Professionally designed landscapes are also great to look at. There is a reason for almost everything that is done in the yard. You should now be able to pick out “why” something was done the way is was.
So here is a list of some of the things you should be looking for with almost any project in your yard. Always keep in mind that you will have to plan according to your budget. We can't think of everything, if there is something specific to your area that affects landscaping planning, your comments and your experiences are certainly welcome. We would love to add them and help others as well.
Many of these tips can be found in most design courses or books. It is important for do-it-yourselfers that are not using any design courses, books, or software, to be aware of all these things before they put a design in their head or on paper.
Keep in mind that even the best designs and engineering plans require modifications from time-to-time. Don't be discouraged, this is normal. Accept it and move on. Be thankful that it was caught in the landscaping planning stages and not afterwards. Consider it an opportunity for improvement.
So, before you put your design on paper, take the time to think about these landscaping planning considerations. This should have you a little more armed for the design stage.
If you wish to design your own yard, there are some great landscape design software programs available on the internet. Like much of the high tech world, the software has come a long way and the prices are much more affordable.
Beautiful gardening ideas can be explored at www.gardeningwithjulie.com
We are sure you will come up with other considerations on your own as well.
A final thought, if you are planning on incorporating gardens
into your new landscape, here is a nice, informative perspective on
We hope you have found this information useful. Please pay it forward so others will benefit from it as well.
All the best of luck with your project.
The Dream-yard Team.