Landscaping plans are a must

Garden at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, USA
Garden at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, USA

There are a number of reasons why landscaping plans are so useful. For one thing, landscaping plans will help you show others, such as your partner, a landscaper, or a nursery employee, what you have in mind. And if you plan to undertake a Do It Yourself landscaping project, than landscaping plans are an absolute must.

People who really love plants have an extra reason to create and maintain a plan of their landscaping. They know that, when they will eventually sell the house, the new owners will know what’s on the yard. So they will know how to care for their new house’s landscaping and they will not plant new things over existing plants.

Creating your own landscaping plan

Draw a basic plan of your yard. Use a scale of 1/2 inch per yard, for example. Make the plan big enough so that you can keep adding information on it as you go along. You may consider using graph paper. If you have a front yard and a backyard, you can make two drawings, if it seems more practical. If you have a certificate of location, make a copy of it and use that. It precisely shows your house and yard, so it’s a great way to start your plan. Indicate the location of the rising and setting sun (preferably in the middle of the summer).

Look at how much sun your yard gets. In most cases, you will identify different sections.

  • Some sections will be sunny (roughly six hours of more of sun a day on a sunny summer day).
  • Some sections will have partial sun (roughly between four and six hours of sun a day).
  • Some sections will be partly shady (less than four hours of sun a day).
  • Finally, some sections will be shady (almost no sun to no sun).

Mark each section on your landscaping plan. Use a colored pen and use codes such as S6+ for spots that have more than six hours of sun, S4-6 for spots that have four to six hours of sun, S2-4 for spots that have two to four hours of sun, and S0 for shady places that barely get any sun. Take into consideration the fact that early morning sun is not as powerful as midday sun. So you may want to mark a spot that gets six hours of sun from 8AM to 2PM as a an S4-6 spot.

Look at how much water your yard gets and how well it drains. You will probably not identify as many different sections as in the previous step. Your yard may even have the same water conditions all over. Pay attention to sections where rain from your roof may fall and accumulate, or places where an underground drain may be draining rain water really fast.

  • Some sections will get a lot of water, but drain well.
  • Some sections may get as much rain, but remain soggy.
  • Some sections may get less rain.

Once again, mark each section on your landscaping plan. Use a different colored pen and use codes such as W+ for wet spots and W- for dry spots.

It would be a very good idea to identify soil conditions as well. If your yard has various types of soil, mark down poor soil locations on your plan. Good nurseries will analyze your soil, sometimes for free, if you bring them large enough specimens. Soil quality may range from very rich in organic matter to very poor and sandy. Soil acidity is also an important factor. Some plants will grow in more acidic soil, such as rhododendrons, while others will prefer a more alkaline soil.

Basic landscaping planFew plants will grow in sand or clay (see Clay soil plants). If you know that you will be planting something in a location that doesn’t have the right type of soil, then you should work on the soil to give it the required properties before introducing the new plant. If the soil on your complete yard is poor, you will either have to enrich your soil before starting your landscaping project, or to restrict your choices to plants that can do with poor soil conditions.

All this will take a few days if not more, but detailed landscaping plans are the foundation of all good landscaping projects. Whenever you will create a design for a given section of your yard, you will refer to this plan, which will help you decide which plants to get.

The key factors that will determine the success of your landscaping plan

The key actors in your landscaping plan are your plants, so always consider the basic factors that will make your plants thrive or dwindle:

  • The light conditions. This is the most important factor. Without the proper light conditions, most plants will slowly wither and some will simply die.
  • The water conditions. This is the second most important factor. Once again, without the proper water conditions, most plants will perform badly and some will die.
  • The soil conditions. While many plants will survive in average to poor soils, the right soil conditions will make them thrive and perform to their best.

Once you have all this information marked on your plan, you are ready to start making good choices for your landscaping project. The rest is just a question of design, taste and care.

Before you actually start to draw your landscaping plans, there are still many things to consider:

  • What sizes and shapes of trees and bushes should you get?
  • How should you arrange everything?
  • Do you want vivid colors, or just shades of green?
  • Should you use annuals or perennials?
  • And so on and so forth.

Landscaping includes aspects of architecture and design that should not be overlooked. Practicality is also a very important aspect. But of course, plants are at the center of everything.

All this is explained in detail in this web site. If you haven’t done so yet, have a look at some landscaping styles and pictures. And why not take a peek at landscaping design rules.

Bear in mind that understanding plants is the key to success and that landscaping plans can only be successful if plants and their needs are at the center of the planning process.

Have you given enough consideration to what you really want to achieve? If not, go to our Lawn and garden decor page.

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The right plants in the right locations with the right conditions