New to Landscaping? Here's Where to Start (2023)

By definition, to be properly said to be "landscaping" (verb form) a property, you must be making improvements (or maintaining past improvements) on that property's grounds--either in a practical or in an aestheticway. In an extended sense, everything on your property that stands outside of the home itself is part of a property's landscaping.A related word is "landscape." When you landscape your yard, you are engaging in landscaping.

Simply put, if you can look out your window and see a fixed feature in your yard affecting the overall aesthetics or practical functioning of your property, then that feature is part of the "landscaping" of the property. Note also that some practical features of one's landscaping, such as underground drainage systems, are of critical importance even though they exist unseen.

House and Landscaping: Living in Harmony

While the above furnishes a straightforward, working definition of the term, "landscaping," first-time homeowners will often profit more from an overview of the kind of work that they can do (or hire a professional to do) in order to improve their yards. So below, I will offer a quick glance at some of the different kinds of landscaping features you can install on your property. Not every homeowner will want to include everything discussed below, but most everyone will want to include at least some of features on this list.

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Before we begin, there is a fundamental question to ponder. Should a house and its landscaping be harmonious with each other? We're not talking about practical concerns, such as planting shade trees to the south of your home to reduce energy costs. No, I'm talking about appearance. Should the way your house looks influence landscaping decisions such as plant selectionand arrangement, or whether to build a wooden deck versus a brick patio?

Some homeowners like to color coordinate their house and their landscaping. That is easy enough, but how far should you go to harmonizing house and yard aesthetically? For example, if the style of your home does not qualify it as a "cottage," can you still landscape in the cottage-garden style?Yes, but only you can decide on the degree to which you should strive for such harmony because everyone's taste is different. There's no doubt that some types ofhardscape features fit better with some houses than with others. A rustic-style deck, for example, will look much better attached to a log cabin than to an ultra-modern contemporary.

What Is Ultra-Modern Contemporary?

Ultra-modern contemporary is a design or architecture style that's characterized by restraint and minimalism. It mainly focuses on clean lines, structural shapes, and neutral tones. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most famous builders of ultra-modern contemporary design.

Achieving harmony is sometimes possible intuitively. But if you are more serious about complementing your house with your landscaping, you really need to take matters to the next level:landscape design, which is essentially an art form (although this discipline never loses sight of practical considerations, as well).

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Types of Landscaping Features

Here are some types of landscaping features. Don't feel obligated to include each and every one of these in your own landscaping! There are wonderful landscapes that leave out half of these (or more). The following is just a quick sampling.

  • Planting beds (such as flower borders)
  • Lawns
  • Shrubs
  • Flowering trees
  • Foundation plantings
  • Driveways
  • Walkways
  • Fences
  • Fountains
  • Water gardens

Before You Start Landscaping

You now have some idea of the scope of landscaping. But what else do you need to consider before you do anything drastic to your yard?

The very first question that you have to ask yourself is this: Do I plan on staying on this property forever, or will I be placing it in a real estate listing at some point?

Answering the question will clarify your priorities and help establish an overarching idea for your home landscaping projects. If you are home landscaping for yourself as a lifelong resident on the property, you need only consult your own tastes. But if your property is fated to be a real estate listing, you need to think in terms of "curb appeal": You are essentially landscaping for other people's tastes--namely, the tastes of potential real estate buyers.

Best Landscape Design Software of 2022

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Avoid Costly Landscaping Mistakes

As in other aspects of your life, some of the best home landscaping decisions result from learning whatnotto do. For example, some do-it-yourselfers who are excited about the idea of starting from a blank slate decide that they will begin a home landscaping makeover by removing a large tree from their landscape. The American Nursery & Landscape Association, however, points out how bad an idea this can be:

"In one study, 83 percent of Realtors believe that mature trees have a 'strong or moderate impact' on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98 percent (Source: 'American Forests, Arbor National Mortgage')."

So let's look at some strategies for acquiring information about enhancing real estate value through home landscaping.

A spiffy home landscaping design increases real estate value. By how much? Well, the average figure yielded by studies over the years is a range of from 7 to 15 percent. Let's just use the 15 percent number as an example, even though that figure is on the high end. Putting that percentage increase into perspective: for real estate valued in the $200,000 - $225,000 range (before considering its home landscaping), an effective home landscaping design could add $30,000 to its value.

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How often do you get to make a $30,000 decision? It's important that such decisions not be based ona whim. In making a $30,000 decision about a stock investment, you'd want hard facts to guide you, right? At the very least, you'd like to hear some expert opinions. You should seek the same kinds of guides in the matter of home landscaping design.

But what might those guides be? And how do you ascertain what kinds of home landscaping represent the currenttrendsfor the real estate market? Fortunately, the resources for home landscaping design ideas are so numerous that your challenge will be not infindingthe ideas, but in sifting through all of them and prioritizing. In addition to the selling trends, you'll always want to provide your home landscaping with as much potential as possible for fall color and beautiful winter scenes--because thisnevergoes out of style.

Where to Find Good Landscaping Ideas

Below are just a few tips for finding homelandscaping ideas:

  • Observe what other people are doing with their home landscaping designs. When possible, discuss with them the reasons behind their choice of home landscaping elements and the intentions behind them.
  • Magazines, books, television and the Web all provide an abundance of information on what kinds of home landscaping designs are currently "selling."
  • Consult with a professional in thelandscape designfield.
  • If you don't want to pay for a landscape designer's advice, at least try to mine some ideas from your local nursery.
  • Real estate agents see the reactions of potential buyers to home landscaping day in and day out; consult with them on trends.

Remember, potential buyers may not share your personal tastes--that's what necessitates all this research on your part, as the seller. For instance, you may not mind spending time puttering around outside, may have no desire for water features on your landscape, and may not care about winter color. But the trend has been for homebuyers to seek:

  • Low maintenancehome landscapes. For instance, if there's a choice between a dwarf version of a tree and a larger version, choose thedwarf tree-- it won't need to be pruned as much.
  • Artificial ponds, fountains, andwaterfalls. The most striking landscape designs have a focal point or accent. A well-executedwater featureis a focal point that can set your property apart from the rest.
  • Year-round visual interest. Evergreens and many berry-producing shrubs are excellent antidotes to winter bleakness.

Make Your Landscaping Beautiful Year-Round

The trend mentioned earlier toward home buyers seeking year-round interest is worth expanding upon. Visual interest goes beyond color. For instance, you can create winter scenes through the employment ofhardscapedesign elements such as stone walls, gazebos, and arbors. To soften up such hardscape features, include tall ornamental grasses or other graceful elements. In fact, even without the hardscape elements, the tall grasses can provide you with wintertime beauty in the yard.

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Incidentally, don't think that just because it may be a hot and humid day at the time you happen to read this article, talk of "winter scenes" is out of line. The time to work on furnishing your home landscaping with the potential for winter scenes isnotwhen it's cold outside and two feet of snow lies on the ground. It's your spring and summer work that will determine how good your landscaping looks in winter. After all, it's pretty hard to plantornamental grassesin the winter! Much of your hardscape design work also should be done in good weather.

In addition to providing winter scenes, don't overlook ways that you can injectmaximum colorinto the spring and fall landscapes, too:

  1. If you plant bulbs in the fall, you won't have to wait until May for spring color.
  2. Some perennials, if cut back properly after their first blooming, will produce a second set of blooms later in the summer or in early fall.
  3. While trees such as maples receive all the accolades for fall color, don't neglect to plant some of the shrubs and vines resplendent in fall color, as listed inThe Top 10 Shrubs and Vines for Fall Color.
  4. Don't pass up 2-for-1 deals.Euonymus alatus, or "burning bush" doubles as a plant valuable both for fall and winter scenes. In the fall it is valued for its foliage. Adeciduousshrub, its potential for winter scenes lies in its bark. Protruding fromEuonymus alatusstems is a corky membrane that gives them an oddly squarish shape. This shape traps and holds snow, making for some terrific winter scenes. Because burning bushes areinvasive plants, however, make sure you keep in under control or look for alternatives.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Now that you have read my overview of the different kinds of landscaping work that you can do to improve a property, you may be interested in consulting the following articles for related information:

  1. Create a Beautiful, Functional Yard to Enhance Your Property's Value
  2. Balancing Aesthetic and Practical Needs in Your Landscaping


Is there a free landscaping app? ›

iScape App – Free

iScape is useful in helping you get a better idea about what landscaping design would work well for you. It is easy to use and requires you to take a photo of your garden or front yard with your phone's camera. From there, you can create your vision by designing over the image within the app.

What is the easiest landscape to maintain? ›

Rock gardens typically contain drought-resistant plants that don't need much care. Moreover, the rocks themselves are decor that never needs to be watered or tended to in any way, and they still have a natural visual appeal like plants. Just make sure to choose plants with similar growing needs for your rock garden.

What is the best time to begin a landscape project? ›

The best time to begin landscaping and planting trees, shrubs, and perennials is in the months of April and May. These spring months will give your plants the opportunity to grow and acclimate during the summer and fall. However, the next best time to begin landscaping is the fall.

What are the 7 principles of landscape design? ›

The principles of landscape design include the elements of unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, emphasis, and sequence as they apply to line, form, texture, and color.

How do I landscape my front yard on a budget? ›

7 Best Front Yard Landscaping Ideas on a Budget
  1. Figure out what landscaping to get rid of. ...
  2. Set a realistic budget. ...
  3. Forgo artificial turf in favor of rocks, mulch or alternative grasses. ...
  4. Create focal points with plants and flowers that thrive where you live. ...
  5. Add unique garden decor to your landscaping.
31 Dec 2020

How much does landscaping cost? ›

Landscaping costs $4 to $12 per square foot, on average, for basic and intermediate services. A full makeover including landscaping design and remodeling can cost up to $40 per square foot. Basic and intermediate services may include planting grass or flowers, lawn care and thatching.

How often should you redo landscaping? ›

Most landscaping tasks fall into the range of renovating every few years. For example, you'll need to replace your mulch when it starts to look washed out. Though a gravel path can last 100 years without a full replacement, you'll need to refill the gravel every couple of years.

How long should landscaping last? ›

For most plants, you're looking at 10–20 years. After that time frame, you should revisit the overall design and look of your landscape.

What are the steps to landscaping? ›

The Stages of Landscaping
  1. Step 1 – Consultation.
  2. Step 2 – Planning & Design.
  3. Step 3 – Final Design & Estimating.
  4. Step 4 – Construction.
  5. Step 5 – Project wrap up.
  6. Step 6 – Maintenance.
1 Jun 2018

Is landscaping worth the money? ›

Is landscaping worth the money? Landscaping is worth the money if you get the cost-to-value balanced. This means spending up to around 10% of your home's value on your garden ideas, to be as sure as you can be that you haven't over-spent and that you will recoup a good percentage of your spend when you sell your home.

Can I do landscaping myself? ›

If you're fairly experienced with soil types and plants and have the time, then DIY landscaping may be for you. Even so, an overall plan is a must, so you can create a cohesive look.

Is there a landscape design app? ›

iScape is the No. 1 app for landscape design. We are here to help you create beautiful outdoor living areas. Whether you're an Industry Professional, or a DIY Homeowner, iScape has you covered.

How do you landscape a small yard? ›

Think of a forest with low groundcovers, ferns, shade-tolerant understory shrubs and trees, and the tall overhead trees. You can do the same thing with your small yard landscaping! Use things like groundcovers, bulbs and crevice plants to create a beautiful layered landscape, while maximizing your flower bed space!

Which landscape edging is best? ›

Best Landscape Edging
  • Best Overall. Dimex Landscape Edging Kit EasyFlex. ...
  • Best Value. Landscape Edging Kit Amazon Basics. ...
  • Best Premium Pick. Steel Landscape Edging (5-Pack) EverEdge. ...
  • Best Faux Stone. Plastic Flex- Wall Landscape Edging Garden Elements. ...
  • Best Hardwood Edging. ...
  • Extra Deep Edging. ...
  • Best for Trees. ...
  • Best Paver Edging.
5 Apr 2022

How do you arrange plants in front of your house? ›

Arrange the tallest plants in the back, the medium-sized plants in the center and the lowest growing plants in the front to create a foreground, middle-ground and a background in your garden. It may seem simple, but creating 3 rows to form a foreground, middle-ground and background is very effective.

What are the 3 major principles of landscape design? ›

The principles of landscape design are guidelines, or tools, that designers use to create attractive, pleasing and comfortable landscapes. The landscape design principles are proportion, order, repetition and unity.

What are the 6 main types of landscapes? ›

coastal landscapes • riverine landscapes • arid landscapes • mountain landscapes • karst landscapes. levee, and a flood plain or terrace.

How do I design my yard? ›

How To Design The Perfect Landscape - YouTube

How can I make my front yard look rich? ›

10 Ways to Make Your Outdoor Space Look Expensive
  1. Mow Your Lawn. ...
  2. Pick A Decor Style. ...
  3. Coordinate Furniture. ...
  4. Create Distinct Areas. ...
  5. Add Lighting. ...
  6. Make a Grand Entrance. ...
  7. Add Decor. ...
  8. Make Repairs.

What is the cheapest type of landscaping? ›

Planting trees is one of the easiest, least expensive backyard landscaping ideas of all. All you need are a few digging tools, some mulch and the tree. Plus, you'll end up saving even more if you plant trees in the right places.

What's the cheapest ground cover? ›

Speaking of gravel, pea gravel is one of the cheapest and easiest ground covers to lay and complements all styles of plot.

› landscape-design › rules ›

8 Landscape Design Principles › landscape-design › rules › landscape-design › rules
Discover eight rules for creating a residential garden with a good layout, appropriate scale and the right plants.
Nov 29, 2012 - These plans, designs, sketches, and renderings are some of the best we've found and saved for ideas. There are also a few of our own landscap...
The basic landscape design ideas (color, form, line, scale, texture) are introduced with pictures to illustrate how they play out in designing a garden.

How do I plan my garden layout? ›

How to Plan a Vegetable Garden: Design Your Best Garden Layout

How do you start a garden for beginners? ›

How to Start a Backyard Garden
  1. Determine your climate zone. ...
  2. Decide what to grow. ...
  3. Choose the ideal garden location. ...
  4. Acquire basic gardening tools. ...
  5. Test your soil. ...
  6. Make your garden bed. ...
  7. Decide whether to grow from seed or transplant seedlings. ...
  8. Plant your seeds or seedlings with care.
7 Jun 2021

What month should you start a garden? ›

Generally March and April, when the soil begins to warm, are the best months to begin sowing many hardy annual vegetable seeds outdoors including broccoli, cabbage, chard, carrots, peas and parsnips.

How do you till a garden for the first time? ›

How to Start & Till a Garden | Troy-Bilt - YouTube

Is there a free garden planner? ›

Better Homes and Gardens- Plan-A-Garden

This garden planning app is a free tool from Better Homes and Gardens; all you need to do to get full access is sign up for an account with their website.

What plants grow well together? ›

Companion Planting Chart
Type of VegetableFriends
PotatoesBasil, beans, celery, corn, garlic, horseradish, lettuce, marigolds, onions, peas, radishes, spinach
PumpkinBeans, corn, marigolds, nasturtiums, squash
RadishesBeets, cabbage, carrots, chives, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, spinach, squash
13 more rows

Are used coffee grounds good for plants? ›

Fertilize Your Garden

Coffee grounds contain several key minerals for plant growth — nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and chromium ( 1 ). They may also help absorb heavy metals that can contaminate soil ( 2 , 3 ). What's more, coffee grounds help attract worms, which are great for your garden.

What is the best garden layout? ›

The most basic garden plan consists of a design with straight, long rows running north to south orientation. A north to south direction will ensure that the garden gets the best sun exposure and air circulation. A garden that runs east to west tends to get too shaded from the crops growing in the preceding row.

Can I water my plants at 7 pm? ›

The best time to water plants is in the morning or evening.

Morning watering is actually preferable to evening watering as the plant has time to dry before the sun goes down. At night, water tends to rest in the soil, around the roots, and on the foliage, which encourages rot, fungal growth, and insects.

How do I prepare my garden soil? ›

Adding organic matter in the form of compost and aged manure, or using mulch or growing cover crops (green manures), is the best way to prepare soil for planting. Adding chemical fertilizers will replenish only certain nutrients and do nothing for maintaining good, friable soil.

Do I need to remove weeds before tilling? ›

Tall or extensive, spreading weeds need to be pulled up before tilling, including tree seedlings. Otherwise the stems will clog the tines or prevent the tines from consistently reaching the soil.

Why are people against tilling? ›

Tillage results in two self-perpetuating cycles: it burns up soil organic matter (OM) necessitating the addition of more, and it stirs up weed seeds, necessitating yet more tillage to kill the weeds. Conventional farming “solves” these two problems in a manner that is not sustainable.

Do you need to remove grass before tilling? ›

Should I remove grass before tilling? Yes, you should remove the grass before tilling so that you get a smoother run for the blades. Plus, the older grass won't regrow if you remove all the grass before you till the ground.


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