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Dean Johnson

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Landscape Plan

rendering of landscaping


Landscaping is a lot of work and can cost a lot of money. For these reasons, most do-it-yourselfers go with a 3 to 5 year landscape plan. That way the work and cost can be spread out over a few years.

A good plan is essential in landscaping. Without it, you'll end up wasting a lot of time and money.

At this point, you should know what style your landscape will be and what function it will perform for you.

You also should have a good idea of what plants you want to incorporate in your plan.

As a homeowner, look at where you spend most of your time and really focus on first enhancing the views from there.

To keep the costs down, you can also try to re-use some of the plants in your existing landscape.


Getting Started

Blueprint of landscapingIf you go with an independent designer, the plan could cost you up to a couple hundred dollars. But many nurseries will provide you with a free plan if you're buying their plants.

You can draw up your own landscape plan since the basic principles of landscape design are not that complex. But there are a lot of things to consider so you might want to have a landscape pro look over your plan before you start on it.

You'll need graph paper to draw out your plan. We use the kind with the grids laid out in eighth-inch scale.

You'll need to measure out the size of your lot, plus the dimensions of your house.

You'll also need a pretty good idea of where the house sits in the yard in relation to the boundaries of the property.

To be exact, measure from one corner of the house to a couple landmarks like a corner of the yard or a gate.

TIP: We've learned to use tracing paper over our basic yard drawing at this point so you don't have to re-draw it over and over again.



Drawing Your Own Plan

Here are examples of how we drew up an informal and formal plan.

Informal Plan

  • We framed the front of the house with taller plants anchoring the corners with a shade tree on one side and an ornamental tree on the other.
  • Spreading these out a couple feet will make a small house seem a bit bigger.
  • Next, we put in a series of medium-sized shrubs along the foundation to cover any exposed block.
  • The entry was framed on each side with a group of taller deciduous shrubs.
  • We used a series of short shrubs to round off the outside edges.
  • Then we filled the area in with a mass planting of perennials.
  • The finished plan shows how carefully planned the informal layout really is, despite the random look it presents.

Formal Plan
  • We started with a low, formal hedge, trimmed in this case to a height of two feet.
  • We'd want straight lines and square corners for the hedge, nothing rounded or curved.
  • Next, we framed the entry with a pair of upright, conical evergreens.
  • Along the foundation, we continued the geometric sequence with a globe-shaped, medium-sized shrub.
  • For color, we filled in the middle of the beds with tall perennials that would be visible above the hedge.
  • To finish, we anchored the corners of the house with a pair of ornamental trees, pruned to hold their shape.

If there was an immediate need for a privacy barrier with the neighbors yard, we could put up an 8-foot privacy fence along the boundary.

An alternative would be a hedge of tall shrubs--like lilacs or arborvitae, but that would definitely take longer.

A tall hedge like that would also be a way to soften a long featureless wall on one side of the house.

A row of evergreens on the north side of the house would provide a real nice wind barrier in the winter.

And a few shade trees on the south side would eventually shade the house in the summer but drop their leaves in the winter and let the sun warm the house.


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