Landscaping Tips — August 29, 2013 at 1:01 am

Getting Started With Landscaping

Designing and building the landscaping in your own yard can be a rewarding and exciting adventure. For most of us, the visions of relaxing in our own personal retreat or triumphantly entertaining family and friends is enough to make us get off the couch and pick up a shovel. However, it can also be a lot of work…work you wouldn’t really want to do all over again the following year.  To help you get off on the right foot, here are a few tips to help you get started.


1. What to do first:

Think about your goals and needs. Taking the time to think through your yard now will save you time, money and a few headaches later on. Here are some examples to think about when planning your landscaping projects.

How much time and effort do you want to spend caring for your landscape?

Ever notice the retired couple across the street always has a perfect looking yard? No weeds in the flower beds. Perfectly manicured lawn. A plethora of freshly picked vegetables that rival even the best farmers markets. The truth is, to get these results require a lot of time and effort…not to mention money for increased water and fertilizer costs.

For some like me, getting out in the yard and working is almost therapeutic. We love it!  However, if you’re not one of those people, you may want to consider less time intensive landscaping such as rock gardens or other hardscaping projects, drought-tolerant native plants and non-fruit bearing evergreen trees where you can lounge without worrying about wedding the tomoatoes.

Either way, just think about how much time and effort you want to put into your yard before you start.


2. Look at your yard in different situations:

When it rains hard, where does the water pool? Do you need to install new drainage? It’s much easier to address drainage issues when the yard can be tore up a little than after you’ve completed your new master piece. Likewise, where does direct sunlight hit in the summer vs. the winter? For example, that planting bed may grow well in the summer but may not get enough light in the winter to sustain plants that like several hours of direct sunlight . It’s important to think about these things as well before beginning your landscaping.



3. Getting it done in stages:

Unless you’re hiring a professional landscaping company to do everything for you, chances are you’re going to be working on your yard in stages. It’s important to think about each stage and how it impacts another before you start your first project.

For example, many people want to get that new lawn look right away and spend the time and money to install new sod. But later, find they need to have some heavy equipment drive over their new sod to help move larger amounts of soil to make room for the water feature. Much like putting in a new floor, it’s best to save the sod for last unless it’s limited to a small area.

Another issue many DIY landscapers run into is where to put the extra soil that comes with certain projects. Take for example, installing a paver patio and fire pit. You have to dig down far enough to lay the proper base layers and allow for the height of the paver itself. Where does all that dirt go?  Often times, you’ll find other projects you have planned require more dirt than you have now such as a raised planter. If you sent up the raised planter before digging for your patio, you’ll have a place to put all that dirt and save yourself the cost of buying “new dirt” down the line!


4. Think in the longer term:

While not every landscape project has to last forever, it is a lot of work which most of us aren’t looking to repeat 2-3 years from when we finished it. We want to sit back, relax and enjoy our new retreat right?  That is why it’s important to think in the long term when starting a new landscape project.

Do you have kids now? Will you in the new future? It would be a shame to rip out that beautiful garden to make room for a new swing set or play area.

Same question goes for pets. I can speak from experience that nothing is more frustrating than working tirelessly to build the perfect garden surrounded by lush green grass, only to have the family hound dig it all up. If you have a pet, do a little research on pet friendly plants, grasses and ways to keep Fido from digging where you don’t want him to.