By Christina McDonald
Take a walk or drive around any neighborhood and you’ll likely agree that the homes that leave a lasting impression are those with effective landscaping. Faced with a new home and a barren yard or even with an older home in need of an exterior facelift? If you’re feeling bewildered and daunted by the prospect, take a couple of moments and ask yourself the following questions.
What is my style?
All to often people pay too little attention to their style preferences and the architecture of their homes. Let’s face it, while you may love the idea of a romantic English cottage garden, it just won’t jive with your Spanish colonial home. Couple that design faux pas with a lack of knowledge and a personal schedule that doesn’t allow you to maintain that look and you’ve got an all around gardening disaster on your hands. Now take that same Spanish colonial, add a welcoming paved courtyard, some symmetrical plantings of drought hardy plants and a sculpted stone bench or small fountain and you’ve made that lasting impression.
How much can I spend and how quickly do I want the landscape completed?
These questions need to be addressed together as each affects the other greatly. You may have grand ideas and the financial where-with-all to execute and maintain them, but then you are in the minority. Most of us need to approach design in two ways—get it done right now within budget or break it up into as many years as it takes to finish, allocating funds accordingly project by project. There are a lot of opinions out there on what percentage of your home’s value should be spent on landscaping but they simply don’t take into account the
fact that most of us, after buying a home, may be slightly squeezed for cash. A better approach would be to take a hard look at your yard, wander around a garden centre to get a feel for prices and then set a realistic budget.
How much knowledge do I have and how much time do I have to maintain a particular style or design?
If you realistically don’t have the time or the desire to learn about a high maintenance garden style then don’t get in over your head. You’ll just be frustrated and in the end unsuccessful. Do you only have 1.5 hours per week to dedicate to the yard? Adjust your design ideas accordingly. Low maintenance does not mean commercial or dull.
Now you’ve acknowledged your abilities, style, budget, time frame and commitment. Put it all together and start designing your realistic landscape—one that leaves a lasting impression.