By Michael Jenkins
If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space of your own—a lawn, extensive patio, or sprawling acreage—you’ve probably considered landscaping your outdoor space into something special. Landscaping may seem almost mundane, but in reality it can be among the more interesting garden projects. You’ll need to consider terrain, weather, drainage and runoff, and soil conditions as well as your own aesthetics and preferences. When framed this way, landscaping your yard may seem like a tall order, but as we dig into it you’ll see that it’s much like planning any other garden space. So with that said, let’s take a look at how to landscape your yard!
The first step in landscaping your yard is the same as it is with many garden projects: think about what you want and need. Do you want a large, easy to maintain grass space? A place for your pets and kids to play? Are you interested in creating a particular style of garden—Japanese, English, French, Colonial? Or do you have a collection of plants you’re interested in growing? The possibilities are endless, but figuring out what direction to head in with your landscaping design is step one.
After you have a reasonably clear idea of what you’d like to achieve with your landscaping, the next step is to spend some time in your space and learn how it works and what it needs. Where are the sunny spots? The shady ones? How does the drainage work—are there low places where rainwater pools? Do you have any natural views beyond your property line that could be incorporated into your plans? Likewise, do you have anything you’d like to screen out from view? Take notes and photos, sit/walk/stroll through and in your yard, and pay careful attention. You may learn a few things that surprise you!
Now it’s time to play a game we like to call addition through subtraction. In order to help your space become everything it can be and to see your landscaping ideas materialize, it might help to clear away some existing elements from your yard. This may be as simple as pruning trees, shrubs, and bushes, removing debris, or clearing away/cleaning up outbuildings like sheds. Your space is your own and has its own needs, but it does help to start with a clean canvas.
Finally we get to one of the fun parts: designing your landscaping dreams. This is where you get to synthesize all of the work you’ve done so far into a plan to make your space into what you want it to become. There are a few things to bear in mind during this process. Putting in combinations of plants, shrubs/bushes, and trees that provide year-round interest and color is a good idea. Different plants bloom at different times of the year, so with a little clever design you’ll always have some color in your space. For the colder months, evergreens in various forms can provide interesting features and a reminder of the spring to come. Likewise, putting in plants of various heights can create some vertical interest as well. And while the plants you choose are always up to you, we do hope you’ll consider some pollinator friendly native plants as they add color while supporting local wildlife.
Landscaping your lawn or other outdoor space is a great way to build something that lasts—a framework around which you can continue to develop your garden and your vision. Whatever direction you choose for your landscaping, we hope you’ll find this brief guide helpful. And we’d love to see your results, so please share them with us on social media or in the comments below!