• Sandi Manna

10 Important Things To Consider When Planning Your Landscape Design

Many people that live along the Connecticut Shoreline from Branford to Old Saybrook are stuck with outdated landscapes that came with the house when they purchased their home.

Many people have updated the interior of their home and are ready to update their landscapes.

Whether you're doing it yourself or hiring a pro, here are some important things to consider before your get started.

It's easy to go out and be tempted by plants that look great at the garden center. and then to get them home and realize they don't work in your landscape.

Another mistake is just to leave it to a pro and you end up with plants, or a style, it turns out you don't really like.

These ten tips will help you develop a plan that will help put you on the road to success.

1. Know your yard

You may know if your yard has sun or shade, and a professional should certainly know, but knowing you yard goes beyond the sunlight conditions.

Specific conditions in your yard may create a microclimate. This can be based on the amount of sun or shade and even the amount of water particular areas of your yard get.

- Are there areas of your yard that are prone to flooding?

- Are there areas of your yard that get little to no natural rain water because they are under eaves or mature trees?

- What about areas of you yard that might be hotter than others? Areas that get reflections from large windows or are surrounded by rock or asphalt are two such examples of this.

What about sunlight? How many hours of direct sunlight do the areas you're considering receive? Are they full sun, part sun, part shade, or deep shade? Do you know what defines these criteria?

2. Think about how you will be using your yard

Think about how you would like to use your yard. Will you be entertaining? Will you have pets hanging out? Will you have children playing? You can create different areas for different types of ideas by strategic planning. Maybe a patio area for entertaining, a grassy area for pets, a playscape for children. Walkways and paths can be used to encourage people to move from one area of your yard to another.

3. Maintenance

Will you be caring for your landscape yourself? If so, do you know how to care for the plants you are incorporating? How much time do you have to dedicate to keeping your landscape looking the way it should?

If you're planning on hiring someone to care for you landscape, think about how much you want them to do and what your budget is.

4. Think about your style

Along the Shoreline, a lot of our clients prefer informal or cottage gardens. You may want a secret garden like this one in Old Saybrook.

A good place to start is by looking at the architecture of your home. If you have a home by the beach, you by want an informal cottage or English garden. If you have a contemporary, you may want a formal or transitional garden. If you have a Colonial you can pretty much go with any style you like. These suggestions aren't hard and fast rules. You should look at websites and figure out what you like and go for it.

5. Create and connect spaces

You landscape is an outdoor extension of your home. Your home isn't one big open box with one space serving all purposes. You have different spaces in your home like your kitchen and living room, yet they're all connected. Your landscape should be the same. Using your space and materials wisely allows you to create different areas in your landscape that function in different ways. For example, you may have a patio or outdoor kitchen for entertaining. You may have a lawn area for relaxing, and some plantings for style and overall enhancement. Colorful perennials are my idea of eye candy.

Think about how you'll use those spaces and create simple transitions between the areas.

6. Make sure your plants work for you

Plants serve a number of purposes. Take lavender for example. Not only is lavender fragrant, but it also repels mosquitos, and certain varieties can even be used in culinary dishes! Plants can be used as barriers and screening between certain areas. You can use plants to create not only a visual barrier, but also a physical barrier as one of our Clinton landscapes uses. Plants in this landscape are used as a physical barrier to prevent people from walking on our clients property on their way to the beach.

Correct placement of plants can also slightly alter your environment. Trees can be used for shade, while shrubs and grasses can be used as a wind break. Water features such as waterfalls and fountains can be used to block out unwanted noises. Bird houses and bird baths can be used to draw in song birds.

7. Pay Attention To Detail

Each element in your landscape from hardscapes, to plants, to garden ornaments have their own visual detail. Think about how these details can be used to compliment or contrast with each other to create additional interest in your garden.

Think about what flowers will be blooming when, and which flowers may be fragrant to further enhance your experience in your landscape.

8. Think about the future

Be sure to read the plant tag and pay attention to what the growth rate and mature size of plants will be. Make sure your plants have enough space in between then to grow and also that they won't have to be transplanted or moved in the future. Keep in mind, the tag is a general guideline. Happy plants can get larger than anticipated I have seen plants in one of our Madison landscapes grow to be at least 30% taller than average!

9. Highlight important points

If you really want to draw attention to a certain area of your landscape, consider unique plants, garden ornaments or statuary. Even planters or containers can make a big impact. Contrasting shapes, sizes, textures and colors will catch the eye, and draw attention to that area.

10. Maximize your elements

Choose resource efficient plants - such as native plants - that will require less water and less fertilizer than their counterparts that are not native to Connecticut, or at least New England.

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