Determine the type or theme of landscape you would like to create
Are you looking to install a foundation planting, screen an area, or establish a specialty garden such as cottage, butterfly or bird areas? Get ideas from garden centers, gardening publications or even your neighbors! Think about your budget during this step. The larger or more elaborate of landscape that you have in mind generally is going to cost a bit more. Decide if you are willing to do your landscape in steps over a period of time to help alleviate budget concerns.
Gather information about the site
This info will help you to choose the right plant for a sustainable landscape.
This would include the following details:
- Measurements, not only the overall size of the area, but also take note of where any windows, doors, or obstacles such as overhead and underground utility lines, septic systems, etc. might be located.
- What sun exposure does the area receive? How many hours of sun does it get and at what time? Does it face North, South, East or West?
- Is there a prevailing wind pattern in the summer or winter?
- What is the soil like? Does it stay constantly moist, or is barrenly dry? Does the soil seem to have a clay, sandy or loamy texture?
Consider maintenance requirements and spatial combinations
A thoughtful design combined with low maintenance plants and hardscapes can reduce time spent maintaining your landscape. The spatial arrangement (how the plants combine to influence the look and feel of the landscaped outdoor “room”) focuses on the three-dimensional outdoor space. You may want a formal look, which involves straight lines, or an informal look with more of a curvy form or even a combination of the two.
Make a list of the plants that you find attractive
Keep in mind that trees and shrubs are not only great for form and structure, but also generally require less maintenance than annuals and perennials. Choose plants that meet your site requirements. While Hostas are beautiful in the shade, they struggle with a full hot sun exposure. Also, by choosing plants with more than one seasonal feature, you extend the beauty of your landscape over a longer period of time. For instance, the Oakleaf Hydrangea has beautiful flowers in summer, exquisite fall color and an exfoliating bark that is highlighted during winter months.
Graph paper and pencil is an excellent way to get your ideas down on paper. The squares will help you keep everything in proportion. Draw your plants based on their mature size. This will help you avoid the dreaded “overcrowding syndrome” that generally occurs within a few years of a new landscape installation. Your drawing doesn’t have to be fancy, simple “x” and “o’s” can represent the plants. Draw any existing features such as structures and walkways first and then let your imagination run wild! At any point along the way, stop in and see the Wilson’s staff that will be happy to assist you with expert advice on the right plant for the right spot.