Getting Started on Your Garden Design

You can find hundreds of garden design books and Web sites, but often, the best place to start planning a design is your neighborhood. What yards strike your fancy as you drive by? Visit public gardens in your region; they're ideal for getting ideas about plants that thrive in your climate. Keep a small camera with you, and snap shots of plant groupings and color combinations that you'd like to replicate in your landscape. Tear pages out of magazines and catalogs, and start a scrapbook.

As you plan your organic landscape, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Plan for convenience. Common-sense design features can make garden tasks easier. Make sure that fence openings are wide enough for a lawn mower or wheelbarrow, for example. If you're creating a new garden, install soaker hoses or drip irrigation at planting time, the easiest time to tackle that task.
  • Plan for diversity. Choosing plants in a range of types, sizes, colors, and shapes makes for a more interesting landscape; encourages wildlife and beneficial organisms; and minimizes pest problems. See the earlier section "Factors Affecting Your Design Decisions" for more info.
  • Plan for low maintenance. Minimize gardening chores with careful planning. Choose hardy, reliable, easy-care plants. Make sure that the mature sizes of trees and shrubs are appropriate to the site so that you'll have to do little pruning. Use easy-care ground covers in place of high-maintenance lawns.
  • Plan for sustainability. Think long-term when designing your gardens; consider how plantings will look in five or ten years. (Visit botanical gardens to view mature specimens.) Choose well-adapted, long-lived plants that require minimal supplemental water and fertilizer. Minimize the need for outside sources of fertilizer by composting yard and kitchen waste.
  • Plan for abundance. Think about how your landscape will look in all four seasons, and include plants that will provide interest year-round. Consider all the things gardens can provide. Add a cutting garden for indoor bouquets; plant extra herbs for drying; add gourds and berry-filled shrubs for crafts. Install a cold frame and have fresh produce from early spring to late fall.
  • Plan for energy conservation. Strategically placed shade trees help keep your house cool in summer. Proper landscaping can reduce heating and cooling costs by one third or more. (For details, see "Landscaping for energy conservation," later in this chapter.)

Before you start planning, check local regulations and community covenants for restrictions on things like grass height and types of plants allowed. Some homeowners' associations prohibit vegetable gardens or allow them only in backyards, for example. If you find the rules objectionable, persuade others in your neighborhood to join you in attempting to have them revoked.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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