Landscape Design Planning: Successful Steps for Creating Outdoor Spaces

The key to any effective landscape project is careful landscape design planning. The time and effort spent considering the various elements that make up a beautifully landscaped yard are well worth it. Carefully planning your landscape design not only ensures your enjoyment of the space, it also guarantees an outdoor area that complements the beauty of your home.

Below is a group of simple drawings to help illiterate the steps of basic landscape planning:

Creating a Plan

landscape design planning

A landscape design is traditionally drawn on a plot plan or sketched on standard graph paper. This first step of landscape design planning is often the most daunting for homeowners.

This scaled map is used to indicate the property lines in relationship to the house. It is crucial that the placement of structures and other dimensions be exact to allow an accurate representation.


Examining the Property

landscape design planning

Once you have an accurate diagram of your property, you should walk around the site, observing the natural areas, vegetation, and other characteristics of the property.

While you are doing this it’s good time to begin gathering landscaping ideas for the area. Now take all the information you’ve gathered and place it on your plot plan.


Climate, Soil and Terrain

landscape design planning

Consider the wind, rainfall, and overall climate around your property as well to help determine the best plants.

Soil condition will play a major role in selecting flowers, trees, and shrubs for your landscape design so the soil should be tested.

Natural slopes, changes in elevation, and other land forms in your yard can affect the drainage of rain water and influence the type of plants that will grow best in your landscape.


Sun and Shade Patterns

landscape design planning

Examine the sun and shade patterns of your home so you can appropriately position trees to provide relief from the sun where shade may be welcome, both inside and out.

Finally, look carefully at every angle of your home and note the areas you would like to highlight and those you would prefer to downplay.


Defining a Purpose

landscape design planning

Once you have an understanding of your property and what you are working with, you can really begin your landscape design planning.

A beautifully landscaped yard is created for enjoyment, so consult each family member and decide what purposes your yard will serve. Depending on you and your family’s needs, you may include an area for entertaining or a secluded area just for relaxing.

You could also add a vegetable, herb or flower garden, play area for children or pets, work area for hobbies, equipment repairs or any other areas that meet the needs of your family.


The Right Plants and Materials

landscape design planning

At this point, you should have some idea of what you want your outdoor area to look like. You’ll need to select the plants and materials that suit the landscape you have in mind.

Decide on the trees, flowers, and shrubs that will be a part of your design and choose the materials that will be used for paths, patios, and other areas.

Create noise barriers and privacy screens where needed with full evergreens, like the cypress, or shrubbery hedges.

Avoid placing trees and plants to close to one another or to structures. A common mistake in landscape design planning is not allowing room for growth.

Use ornamental trees, light shrubs, and flowers to adorn walkways and drives. Select plants that naturally grow in your area to ensure a flourishing outdoor area and to minimize maintenance.


Putting It All Together

landscape design planning

Once you have decided on the primary uses of your outdoor area, you should return to the graph paper to organize the design.

Driveways, storage buildings, outdoor kitchens and other structural details should be sketched in first.

Pay attention to areas of your yard in public view and remember to plan sheltered areas for storing garbage, lawn equipment, and other outdoor supplies.

Draw in drives, paths, and walkways and consider your plans for entrances, patios, and other outdoor areas.

Landscape design planning is extremely important but equally important considerations are the art of elements, the principles of design and an understanding of garden history. Each one of these basics plays an important role in creating a successful landscape design.

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