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Dos and Don’ts for a Great Landscape

Every homeowner desires a landscape perfect in form and function.  A perfect landscape is a feast to both your own eyes and those of other beholders.  But such an ideal landscaping project is easier said than done, especially when you have to build one from scratch.  What landscape design is ideal for your particular type of neighborhood and home lot?  Which varieties of trees and shrubs require less attention?  What is the best layout of the plant beds?

Here are some of the important things to consider in landscaping.   A compilation of the dos and don’ts can help you put up a landscaped yard that you can be proud and happy about for years and years to come.

The Dos start with planning.  You need to have a plan to save on cost and effort on redesigning the landscape every now and then which becomes necessary when, say, a tree planted haphazardly obstructs the view from your window or the paving material on the walkway is washed out by the rains.

A key element of the plan is selecting the plants for your landscape. Make up your mind where to spend your money.  Buying the smaller size of fast growing plants lets you spend more on larger, slower growing plants. Remember that plants, especially trees, grow tall and will crowd your house, obscure views from windows, and invite home maintenance problems like wood rot and insects later on. The idea is to plan for low maintenance. Think of how your landscape will appear from the curb outside.  With the increasing popularity of outdoor living space, the backyard is getting a lot of attention lately but it’s the front yard everyone sees. So money spent on curb appeal is a good investment. This means that you have to stay ahead of the weeds. Letting weeds go to seed spells trouble in any garden.  Take a little time each week to pull weeds that have popped up because it will pay off in the long term.

In the planning stage, take a cue from the surrounding area for plant selection and then follow natural access patterns throughout your landscaping.  Make pathways at least 36” (1 meter) wide and use interesting textural and/or colorful elements for walkways, not plain stretches of concrete. 

The DON’TS start with the need to avoid wandering, pointless curves in walkways.  Don’t plant hedges or other plants too close to walkways.  Doing so infringes on the comfortable space required when swinging arms, carrying packages, or other regular activities when walking up a path.  Two feet of space is a good rule of thumb.

For the plants, don’t think in singles. A single plant can easily get lost in the garden. Think in multiples, preferably odd numbers. Creating swaths of color increases visual impact and reduces maintenance. Don’t force a focal feature such as a large flower bed or water feature where it doesn’t belong and looks out-of-place. Instead, let the layout of the land guide you.

Finally, don’t make visitors guess where to walk or which door to come to but rather, make the entrance to your home clear and inviting.


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