Responding appropriately to conditions is essential to developing the kind of finely tuned landscape that's easy to live with. The first step is making friends with the site so you understand what you're dealing with. Start by spending some quality time with your yard. (It's been a while, hasn't it?) Go outside when you have the time to just hang out and quietly observe the many characteristics of your property: the path of the sun, the condition of the soil, the health of existing plants, and good and bad views, to name a few aspects. Take photos, make notes, and move around to see things from as many perspectives as possible. Get professional advice if you have special concerns, such as an unstable hillside or soil problems. See Chapter 4 for an in-depth discussion of site analysis.
But understanding the site isn't enough; you also have to learn what you want and need. Rushing into the design phase without going through this process leaves you without the information you need to make good decisions. Think about your needs and desires. What do you want from the finished landscape? Make a simple list. Do this outdoors so you can imagine the possibilities better. If you stand in your backyard and dream about what you need, for example, you might list privacy, a shady place with a hammock or a patio, a play space for the kids, a vegetable garden, a few fruit trees, secure fencing, and a water feature. Take the time to get everything down on paper. Include your family in the process, and make sure that everybody gets heard.
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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.