Beginner’s Guide to Landscape Planning

If you’re a new homeowner, just built a new home, or you’ve just never planned out your landscaping before, there are definitely some things you need to know. To avoid the mistakes that will take a lot of work to fix later, check out our beginner’s guide to planning a beautiful yard that will look fantastic for years to come.

1. Plan, plan, plan

There’s a good reason we called this the guide to landscape planning. You absolutely need to make a plan before you start shopping for plants or putting anything in the ground. Not having a plan is the number one mistake you can make, because it’s the mistake that will breed a dozen more.

2. Sketch it out

Start by making a rough drawing of the yard. Make sure you know how much space you have to work with so you can choose your plants accordingly. Jot in what you think you’d like—where you want trees and what kind, where to put flowers and shrubs, what colors you’d like.

It doesn’t have to be perfect or researched at this point. The important things are the dimensions and the ideas.

3. Check your lighting

Take note of which areas of your yard get sunlight and for how long. Mark areas of shade and sun on your drawing. Knowing which spots get sun and which don’t is essential, because it will keep you from the kinds of mistakes that will keep your garden from thriving.

After all, plants that need sun don’t do well in the shade. It’s that simple.

4. Gather information

It’s time to start learning about the plants you want (and don’t want) in your yard. You need to know what plants typically do well in your region, how much sun they need, when to plant them, and how big they grow—especially bushes and shrubs.

Make sure you do your research on the trees you want, too. Where you plant them will definitely matter in 5 or 10 years when they’re blocking half your house and keeping sun from your favorite flowers, or their roots are tearing up your driveway.

Maybe the most important thing to know is how to care for the plants you’re choosing. If you’re new to gardening, you may want to start with hardier plants that grow well without much fuss or tending.

You should be able to find all the information you need online. Go ahead and visit your local garden center, too, to see what’s available, read tags, and ask for advice.

5. Get a second (or third) opinion

Once you’ve revised your original drawing with the plants you think will look and do best in your yard, have someone with garden and landscaping experience look it over for things you might have missed or ideas you might not have thought of.

6. Get started

Now it’s time for the fun parts: shopping and planting. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as making something that was only in your head into a beautiful reality.

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