Paris and Henry County's Oldest Landscape Design/Build & Maintenance Company
Professional Landscape Design
Landscape Design can be fun to do on your own property. It gives you a sense of satisfaction to know that you designed and implemented an entire landscape on your own property, and sometimes makes the maintenance of it more enjoyable, like one of your labors of love.
On the other hand, it is something that can cause problems in the future if you fall into some to the common pitfalls that some homeowners do when doing their own landscaping. If you don't want to tackle this on your own, give our office a call and we can draw a landscape design for your to follow and implement, or we can design and build the landscape all for you.
Landscape Design ideas can be as elaborate or as simple as your imagination wants to take you. If you have a new home and it is totally bare, it is a blank canvas to design on. You can put anything you want in your landscape, just keep in mind a few basic principles of landscape design.
There are a few rules of landscape design, but when doing your own, for yourself to enjoy, not thinking of what anyone else might think, there is an old saying that goes "there is no wrong way when doing it for yourself, if you like it, then it's right."
If I am designing for a customer I will take into account the home's site conditions like, how much sun or shade, where is it located, in a new subdivision or by itself out in the country, what are the styles of landscaping around the home. I take into account what are the tastes of the homeowners, do they want formal, or a loose free flowing country type feel.
The colors and style of the house will play some part. Then we start dividing the landscape up into sections. The front, is it all in the sun, part, mixed, how tall can the plants be before causing problems, what type of plants do I want to use on the corners, by the door entry, out by the street, etc. I go all around the house and look at each individual spot and think of it as it's own landscape project.
When you have a general idea of what style your going to go with for your home. Start looking at some magazines, and books for plants you like and landscape designs you like, there is nothing wrong with borrowing
a few ideas. Start a file folder on plants you have found you like, then determine if they will grow in your area, or zone, and then determine where on your landscape you can use it.
Get a large piece of paper, drawing tablet or such and start sketching out the outline of your home, driveway, walks, outbuildings, etc. Do this to scale if you can. Get a scale ruler from an art store and draw the drawing at 1" = 10' this is pretty standard in Landscape Design.
When you get the house and property all drawn out, start placing plants around the house as you think you will like them. Again use your scale ruler to determine how many plants it will take and how far apart they
should be. Just remember that the number 1 mistake homeowners make when doing their own landscaping is they plant the shrubs and trees too close together and too close to the house. Most of the time homeowners will use a very small container shrub and use them too close together to make up for them being so small.
You will be money ahead to just buy the 3 gallon size or larger plants, pay a little extra and be done. It will look more finished, or look like the landscape has been there for years instead of looking like a "starter" landscape.
We routinely go out and tear out landscapes that are 5 to 10 years old that were improperly planted, designed and plants placed wrong. If you do it right the first time, you will be better off since you won't have to pay to redo the landscape in just a few years.
One new way of designing landscapes is to use computer software. These programs will allow you to put plants in, take them out, change the type, the height, etc. Lots of flexibility with the design.
Then once your done you can just click and print. This is great for someone who doesn't have a lot of drawing skills. You don't have to worry about getting things to scale either, just click on a plant icon and place it, the program will size the plant for the scale you have selected. They work great, we have a commercial version in our office. Irrigation design can also be done on some software plans.
One big tip we can give is to do your research on the plants you think you want. Go to a lawn and garden center and look at the plants in real life, read the horticulture tag on the plant to see how large the plant will get, is it sun or shade, and how far apart do they suggest they be planted?
Remember that a lot of the TV shows that are showing gardening and landscaping are filmed in other states than where you live. Just because they say they are planting African Iris, doesn't mean you can. Look up the plants and determine if they will live and grow in your area.
After you have a good selection of plants you can start placing them around the house according to which ones will require sun, shade, or a mix. One of the things I try to keep in mind when choosing plants is that I want something going on at all times during the year. Early spring I want some blooming, so maybe a Forsythia somewhere, Pansies for winter time blooming, Azaleas for early spring, etc.
Go through the plants you have selected and mark down when they will bloom. After placing them on your plan you will be able to get an idea of what will be blooming and when.
You will now see you need to add some border plants maybe, or change some plants all together in order to have some blooming in an area. Daylillys are great for a small splash of summertime color.
Don't fall into the usual trap so many before you have of just planting one straight row of plants around your home. This was Landscape design in the 70's. Modern landscaping will have at least 3 layers of plants with long wide sweeping curves on the bedlines. Be sure and make the beds large enough also, another common problem people have when landscaping themselves.
Most landscape beds are made too small. The best way to determine your bed size is to set the plants out you are going to use first, then mark the edge of the bed a few feet away from that, leaving room enough for any border plants you may be using.
The bed edge can be a check shaped trench,
or bordered with a material like stone, or bed edging in plastic, steel or wood.
Myself, for most projects, I prefer a natural trench dug at the edge of the bed. It is easier to keep maintained than edging. With edging, each time you mow you will have to come back all the way around the bed and trim with a string trimmer.
If you have a check shaped trench at the edge of the bed you can just let the mower deck hang over it and it will suck up the grass and cut most of it.
Round up works great for keeping the grass out of the trench also. A chemical called Ornamec is a great chemical for killing unwanted grasses in your landscape beds without harming the plants. You can spray this chemical directly over most plants and it won't harm them, but it will kill grassy weeds, Bermudagrass, Fescue, Crabgrass, etc, that are growing in your bed.
Landscaping is all about planning, being sure you put the right plant in the right spot.
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is just that, wrong plant in the wrong spot. Other common mistakes are; using
plants that are too small, spaced too close together, and always planted too close to the house.
These mistakes are all easily cured in the planning process, but often costly and time consuming to cure later in the years after you notice that the plants are growing together, growing into the side of the house or the eve's, or growing out over a walkway.
The biggest tip I can give a prospective homeowner/landscaper wanna be, is read the label.All plants have Horticultural information on the plant tag, or available if there is no tag. Don't buy a plant for your place just because it's cute, and on sale at
one of the big box stores. Buy plants based on the plan you have drawn up,
and because that plant is in the plan. This way you will have a uniform
landscape with matching plants in the spots they are supposed to be in.
Work from a plan, even if it takes you years to complete the plan, start with a plan.
This way everything you plant 3 years from now will tie together with what you plant today, a theme if you will, carries through the entire