Landscaping 101

Written by Claire Schneider

Does your yard scare the neighborhood children? Does it need some TLC, but you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry because we have simple tips to turn your yard into a landscaping wonder!

Quick stat: According to Bob Villa, the first impression, aka the yard, can add 20% to your home’s value, a figure that rivals the return on a new kitchen or bath.

Before you begin

landscapingBefore starting any projects, make a wish list. What would your ideal yard look like? How do you plan to use it? Do your kids or pets need a nice grassy area? Do you want a formal look or a natural one? These are just some of the questions to consider when landscaping. Once you have your vision, draw a sketch of your dream yard and include designated locations. For example, a dining space with a grill, a lounge area accompanied with a hammock, and general open areas. The sketch doesn’t have to be fancy; just some circles and squares with labels will do.

Better Homes and Gardens also recommends studying the sun and wind patterns. If you’re building a patio, you might want to place it on the west side of the house. Just remember, it will get a lot of afternoon sun. This means dinnertime in August will be served up with a side of sweltering heat. Wind whistling around a corner will quickly extinguish a fire pit. These are common design mistakes novice landscapers make.

Remember, landscaping projects don’t need to be completed all at once. You can continually add to it over time. Not everyone is Ahmed Hassan from Yard Crashers, who enlists a team of 20 people to make over a yard in just a few days. So start small by adding focal points, such as a flower bed or a modest rock garden, and live with those for a while. Once you’re comfortable carrying your plan forward, the final draft of your sketches will become an eye-pleasing reality. Add family and friends and you’ve got yourself the best outdoor entertainment space on the block!

Simple landscaping tips

1.  Keep it green and clean. It’s important to protect your landscaping investment and keep your property looking its very best. According to WikiHow, taller grass is healthier grass. It shades out weed seeds, preventing them from sprouting. It keeps the soil cooler, moist longer and encourages the proliferation of soil microbes. This doesn’t mean let the lawn go wild but instead when mowing your lawn, have the blades set at the highest setting (3 1/2 to 4 inches).  Also keep the lawn raked and free from pine needles and leaves for a nice clean look.

2.  Trim plants. Shaping plants not only enhances their beauty and gives a manicured look, it also allows sun to reach their center. This is essential to plant health. The best time to trim plants is early spring or late fall.

3.  Add colors and textures. When selecting plants, make sure they have variations in color and textures throughout the year. This will ensure your yard will always have visual interest. Choose flowering plants for warm weather, bushes with leaves that change color seasonally, or have colored berries during the winter.

4.  Mulch: Your new best friend. Adding mulch to flower beds is a simple and inexpensive way to add curb appeal. Mulch makes it look like you spent hours gardening, when actually it only took a few minutes to add it to flower beds.

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