page will try to help you think through the process of planning and constructing
a home landscape assuming you are willing to do the actual construction
of the landscape yourself.
Three major phases include:
Planning / Plant Selection / Construction
major feature to any landscape is the attraction of the eye to it.
Therefore, in planning your landscape, be thinking of how
your landscape can "stand out" from others in your area. Use of
less common and "interesting" plants and a design that "draws the eye
to it" will achieve this.
start, have a well thought out plan on paper before you begin any construction
activity. A good plan begins before any drawings are made. It should include
paragraph describing your concepts, assumptions, description of the entire
landscape as you would like to see it, choices, total budget, and time
of required equipment and materials needed
of alternative plant selections (generally completed after design is drawn)
of potential sources for plant and other needed materials along with estimated
phased construction schedule (work breakdown structure in priority order)
part of the planning process, do the following:
the natural resources, existing plants and trees, drainage patterns, soil
conditions, natural light conditions throughout the day, and potential
problems (e.g. underground utilities). Draw a scaled plot indicating these
conditions and showing existing structures and significant trees. Plant
selections will be very dependent on the existing or potential environmental
conditions initially identified. Many micro-environmental conditions may
exist within your yard that create exceptions.
to make include formal vs. informal vs. naturalized landscape, degree
of maintenance you are willing to undertake once constructed, landscape
theme desired (predominant type of plants preferred), intended future
use of all yard areas and acceptable restrictions, and what special features
would you like to integrate (e.g. an aquatic pond/garden, butterfly/hummingbird
attractors, fruit trees, other peripherals such as decorative containers,
bed bordering materials such as rocks, etc)
an aesthetically pleasing planting or bedding areas as an addition to
your scaled master plot. Avoid squared-off looks, use curvature or other
angles and shapes to the extent possible. Often the creation of "Island"
beds among trees adds interest and diversity. Allow for seasonal variations
in planting areas - using both permanent and seasonal plant materials
to add variety from year to year. Place taller plants to the rear
and add both vertical, horizontal, and a sense of depth to the planting
arrangement (a 3D effect so to speak).
final step in developing a landscape is the selection of plant candidates
- looking at all suitable alternatives and selecting those that reflect
your personal preferences. This topic follows:
Selection - Criteria to Consider
General rules of thumb to follow include:
several suitable alternatives for each planting area. Get the advice of
a knowledgeable horticulturist or independent source that doesn't have
a conflict of interest (e.g. a nursery would most likely recommend plants
they stock for sale). Personally
view each plant recommended to ensure that it suits your personal tastes.
Although landscaping is done for the neighborhood, you look at it every
day and must be the ultimately satisfied customer.
different plant textures, sizes, colors, and growth forms to add diversity
and visual/artistic interest. The combinations of plants that would go
well together are numerous.
of plants should promote a sense of 3-Dimensional depth in addition to
diversity. Never line plants up in a row, and allow sufficient spacing
for the plants ultimate size, not to achieve an instant effect.
Consider how the landscape looks from all visual angles.
predominantly evergreens for frontal or public areas. When using deciduous
plants, surround them with other evergreens to provide interest during
dormancy periods. Deciduous plants can also be effectively used as backdrop
prepared to acquire your plants from multiple sources. No single commercial
source will have all the plants you need at any given time. You can also
compare quality and prices from various commercial sources while making
or planting area preparation is the most important key to successful planting
of any landscape. For the Gulf coastal areas with hard compacted clay
soils, roto-tilling to 12 inch depth, topping with 6 inches of mixed soil
(1/3 sharp sand. 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 ground mulch) then roto-tilling again
will ensure a good foundation for any area to be planted. Another technique
is to plant in raised bed conditions, either by bordering with landscape
timbers, rocks, etc, or by mounding up at least 6 to 12 inches using the
same recommended soil mixture. Gulf coast clay soils are nutrient rich
but very poor draining. These preparations mainly deal with the drainage
problem. Inland from the Gulf 50+ miles, the soil changes to a sandy loam
or more friable texture requiring less preparation effort.
constructing your landscape, be prepared for the long haul and don't expect
your completed job to look "finished" for some time afterward. It takes
time for plants to become well established and grow to desired characteristics.
Never plant for "instant effect" but visualize the potential several years
away. It will take up to several years for the potential to be realized.
your construction work into easily divided phases (a work breakdown structure)
so it can be done over time depending on time of year, availability of
materials, available personal time, and stage of construction (e.g. bed
preparation vs planting). As
a general rule, the best time to plant any tree, hardwood shrub, or hardy
perennial is in fall (Oct.-Nov.) for the Houston area. This allows the
plant to concentrate on strong root development during winter months before
the spring growth spurt. There is ample moisture during these months and
a reduction of stress from the summer heat to allow the new plants to
become well established. Spring planting should focus on tender and seasonal
plantings, plus the addition of any tender plants over wintered out of
the ground. Such exotics and tropicals can add a lot to the summer landscape
when blended with permanent plantings.
final thought on home landscapes is "An ounce of prevention beats a pound
of cure". Take the time to do it right, thoroughly research your choices
of plant materials, and assess your environmental conditions to match
them with the best plants for those conditions. The time it takes to prepare
your beds properly will provide years of trouble free growing and save
you money in the longer run. Also, don't expect instant results - a good
landscape takes time to develop. Be prepared for additional maintenance
time for every landscape addition you add. What gets constructed must
get maintained or you're back to square one.
people think that Home Landscaping refers to the front end appearance
of the home to beautify it for the betterment of the neighborhood.
But what about your personal enjoyment?
HERE IS ONE ASPECT
OF HOME LANDSCAPING THAT IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED!
Don't forget to landscape
your back yard also. The front may be for the neighborhood effect
but the back yard is for your personal pleasure, so a beautiful landscape
in the back area as well, full of gardens with your favorite plants and
creative touches will add much pleasure to your home owning experience.
See Examples of "Backyard Landscaping below. We transformed
a barren back yard with St. Augustine grass and a fence into what you
see below, in less than one year! It has become a mini-botanical
garden with space left to roam.