The arrival of warm weather makes the perfect time to dig out the garden gloves and head outdoors for some yard work. Not only are outdoor projects one of the best ways to relax the brain, but it’s also a chance to express your creativity while designing a space for reflection and hospitality.
Landscaping and gardening also fill a civic role: by working outdoors and becoming visible to our neighbors, we signal our commitment, not only to our homes and gardens, but also to our community and neighbors. Working outside regularly is actually one of the easiest ways to meet your neighbors and to start building loose social ties.
But like DIY project that’s worthwhile, landscaping takes planning and patience. If you’re considering moving beyond the basic lawn-mowing and bush-trimming and into more creative and intentional projects, here are some important tips to keep in mind.
1. Don’t forget about maintenance as you plan
One of the first and most important questions you should answer before you get started is, “How much time do I have to spend on keeping up my yard and garden?” Having clarity about how much time you can commit on a weekly basis will guide your overall design and the plants you choose, which is not an insignificant part of the process! Be really honest with yourself. While you can always add on to a garden if your lifestyle changes, there are few things more sad than watching a garden wither due to insufficient upkeep. If you’re committed to a well-kept lawn or a succulent garden, but you don’t have as much time as you need, consider giving us a call at 844-937-7667 to hire an extra set of hands!
2. Decide on a focal point from the start
Well-designed yards and gardens are primarily visual experiences. The pleasure, relaxation, and calmness we experience in a garden or landscape come mainly from what we see. This is why it’s important to have a clear focal point for your garden or outdoor space. This focal point could be a tree, sculpture, fountain, sitting area, etc. You’ll want to build the remaining components of your outdoor space around this focal point…they should all work together to create a harmonious and pleasurable visual journey. Be sure to leave space between various focal points and don’t situate them too close to each other. And while you can have more than one focal point, be careful to not overdo it. The human eye can only focus on a few things at once. If too many accents compete for attention, the purpose and design of your garden won’t be as clear and the space won’t be as enjoyable.
3. Explore sustainable options
Sustainability is somewhat of a buzzword, but at the core, it’s simply the commitment to using limited resources as efficiently and creatively as possible while limiting waste and damaging side-effects. When it comes to landscaping, this could look like installing permeable ground materials instead of cement to assist with rainwater run-off, planting a naturally water-conserving wildflower garden instead of a water-guzzling lawn or opting for flowers that attract bees, advancing the essential process of pollination.
A sustainable garden plan could also include repurposing old materials as often as possible, installing an irrigation system that delivers water in an efficient and conserving fashion or perhaps adding a rain water barrel to the side of your house. Whichever options work for you, embracing sustainability can be not only personally satisfying but can save you time and money in the long-run. It’s truly a win-win.
4. Study the climate of where you live
Complementary to sustainable landscaping is the essential step of researching your area’s climate. Installing landscapes that are incompatible with your local climate is a serious misstep you’ll want to avoid. Beyond being environmentally stressful, it’s also costly. You’ll spend precious money and time trying to keep up a garden that doesn’t naturally fit into the surrounding environment. Avoid this headache by investing time into careful research and planning a garden and yard that harmonizes with the elements of your natural environment and uses available resources as conscientiously as possible. Some factors to consider: sunlight levels, seasonal temperature ranges, and rain levels. The more you can plan your garden around what naturally thrives in your climate, the less work you’ll have to spend on upkeep and the more your garden will thrive.
5. Choose plants purposefully
As you’re developing the plan for your garden or yard, you’ll want to pay special attention to the selection of your plants. Not only will you want plants of various heights, colors and textures, but you’ll also want plants that bloom at different times of year. Otherwise you’ll end up with a garden that blooms in only one or two seasons, leaving you with a blossom gap of up to six months! As you plan which plants will go where, be sure to combine them based on their soil and sunlight needs. Plants with similar needs should go together. You could also consider planting edible plants in your floral garden or vice versa.
6. Embrace plant layering
After choosing plants based on your region’s climate and their compatibility to each other, the next step is to map out how you will layer them. Layering is one of the most important design principles you can adopt as you plan your garden. When you layer plants, you arrange a variety of plants together in a particular kind of relationship based on their type and height. Bulbs, herbs should be situated at the level closest to the ground with vines, flowers and grasses in the middle and shrubs, bushes and trees making up the tallest layer.
Like other do-it-yourself projects, creating a welcoming and restful landscape or garden area is less about being perfect and more about learning something new, preserving through challenges and exploring new depths of creativity. Do-it-yourself projects add meaning to your home in a way that’s not quite the same as when we hire someone else to do the work. Taking the time to design a garden that’s creative, sustainable and in harmony with your region’s climate will not only deepen your relationship with nature, but will inspire you as you nurture your relationships with family, friends and neighbors.