One of the most common mistakes in landscaping is failing to put a plan on paper before building the garden. A plan doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. In fact, you can design a DIY landscape plan by yourself. Here are some guidelines.
Start by making a list of the items you want in your landscape. Note lawn areas, planters and special features like a patio, barbecue area, swimming pool or hot tub, paths and more.
Sketch out your design on paper. You can even do it on a napkin, but you will get more accuracy if you use grid paper. Wander around your property and record your property lines and where all the major features are located. You can do this as a rough drawing or do measurements. The more accurate you measure, the more reliable and detailed your drawing can be.
Then draw in the hardscape — permanent, non-living features — that will be built. Keep in mind practicalities: utility lines, accessibility, land stability, etc. as well as where these features will look best in the layout of the design.
Follow with the trees. Check with a compass to see how the shade will move so you locate trees where they will be most effective. Shading your house in the heat of summer can save you ten percent on your air conditioning bills.
Add the largest areas for planting like lawns or large gardens and work your way to the smaller details.
If you want a more accurate drawing, you might want to transfer these notes to a landscape design software program. Or you can keep them on paper.
Once you have the basics laid out you can start playing with moving things around. It will be much cheaper to use an eraser or a delete key to test out different design ideas than risk making a mistake in the installation and have to rip everything out later.
If you want a second opinion on your DIY landscape plan, call in some professional help — a garden designer or architect — for a consultation. It may be worth the expense to get some ideas you might not have thought of or to catch a design idea that might turn out to be a problem later down the line.
Start with a well-thought- out DIY landscape plan and you have taken the biggest step to ensure you’ll have a successful landscape.
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