Before you start, make sure you have plans that are going to work in
your space. Start small! I have found that watching some of the
gardening shows on HGTV is a good way to get all kinds of ideas. And
there's nothing like gardening books with wonderful photos to inspire
Visit my home page for photos of my family, pets, gardens & way cool
I drew my own plans and had a very good idea of what I wanted. Meanwhile, my
friend who bought the landscaped house is having to dig up everything because
apparently his landscaper was too eager to make it look good and grossly
overplanted (guess who got tons of lillies, bananas and Mexican Heather from
his garden!). My planting has been slower but done with careful attention to
the soil and a design that features plants and trees that will not require too
much care in the future. It has been enormously pleasing to watch the
landscape slowly come to life.
My suggestion is to do it yourself. A garden is always a work in progress and
should be dynamic.
yeah yeah yeah yeah
When we first moved in I had grand plans that I worked and reworked many
times. I bought zillions of dollars worth of plants, moved them each
year, and never got it right.
In 1996 we planned to have new fencing installed and needed to redo
I called a landscape designer. Before she even got there I measured and
photographed everything, listed what plants I had, what I wanted, and
what I did not want.
The design cost me only $200 because of the prep work I had done.
We dug up everything except two palms- I had plants in pots and buckets
and garbage bags stacked three deep while the fencing was put in. We
used her design and our labor to make it happen (the only plants we
bought from her were 3 large trees that we couldn't have managed).
We've modified her design a bit, but the basic elements of balance,
texture, and 'flow' are very evident. Our yard is now an incredibly
beautiful, relaxing place to be.
It was EASILY the best $200 I ever spent.
I invest so much in plant material, why not get a pro's thoughts on
making my yard the best it can be?
I thought I would put my two cents in. I used to do landscape design for
homes, now I am designing and restoring ecosystems for golf courses. Many
times someone would ask me to look at what they had landscaped and offer
suggestions. Usually their landscape would be what I called a "Home Depot"
landscape, meaning they went there and bought some of whatever was pretty, in
bloom, or struck their fancy. When azaleas were in bloom, they bought azaleas,
hibiscus, heather, daylilies, whatever. Then they went home with their new
possessions and "found a place to stick them"
I continually argued with clients about mature sizes of plants, cold
sensitivity of plants, and the overall freeze danger of their entire
landscape. Around central Florida, the rule of thumb is that 80% of your
landscape should be cold tolerant. Are key focal plants still going to enhance
the appearance of your home after the first frost? Will you go our and cover
the plants which will not survive a freeze? What will those hibiscus trees
look like at your front door two days after a frost? Those cute "little"
shrubs you want in front of the window have a mature height of 20', do you want
to be continually cutting them back so the windows are not covered?
I will also say that many landscape designers don't take these things into
consideration either. What will the landscape look like when I finish planting
and ask for my check? How much maintenance will the landscape require? Will
the tree which frames the house perfectly now continue to do so in 10 years, or
will it have to be removed? Many times designers give the customer what they
want, because it is easier than arguing a point.
Whether you hire a designer or not, make a plan for the entire property, if you
can't afford to landscape it all at once, at least you will have a plan to work
towards. You can plant smaller plants for less money in future areas, which
will become the size you would want by the time you get around to finishing
that portion of the landscape, a 3 gal. tree may cost you $8 while that same
tree in a 30 gal. pot would be around $100-200. The only difference between
them is time.
A plan is something you make so you will have something to change. Make a
plan, addressing all of your landscape needs, and change it, and fine tune it.
Don't be a 'home depot landscaper'.
I did my first home landscaping and made the usual mistake of getting too
many plants for the small space; but I did get the right plants for the
site conditions, so they all grew wonderfully well (and got very
overcrowded). Now I'm on my second home landscaping job, and this time
I'm going way slower, working on a small area at a time. By sheer luck I
won a prize, an hour consultation with a landscape designer which turned
out to be very helpful, because I already knew basically what I wanted and
he was able to help me fine tune it and give me some short cuts and
recommend some tools. He was a designer whose work I actually knew and
liked, so I lucked out there.
Whatever you do, you will probably not get it absolutely perfect the first
time; the goal is to get things off to a good start and then you can
tinker with it over the years. Good luck!
Remove the cat's tail for email.
I just bought a house with extremely minimal landscaping. After
removing sod from an 88' annual border (sunflowers/cosmos to hide the
neighbors from view) and working it up by hand, building a 10'
diameter perennial mound, bordering the perimeter of the house with
flower beds, digging a large strawberry/raspberry patch and a smaller
blueberry patch, building a large sandbox out of (untreated) landscape
timbers, planting ump*** shrubs and other gimmies from relatives,
making islands around all my established trees, replacing the
weed-ridden area around my heat pump with a sea of still-empty mulch,
etc. etc. etc....
After all of this, I still haven't PLANTED anything. I have all these
beds and borders and islands and narry a plant in any of them.
After all of this work, I'm glad when it's time to go to my paying
job. It's a lot easier!
Then again, if I had it to do over again, I would do it all again.
It's going to look fabulous! I'm making up for spending the last six
months with no place to grow anything. I couldn't even move the
majority of my plants from the old place because there was simply no
time to make a place to put them.
Even just the sight of these empty beds is a joy. Until now, this was
merely a house. Now it's home. All the more so because my children
(ages 2 and 5) have helped me every step of the way. I'll be able to
look at the mound and remember that my daughter carried the edging to
me and that my son dug out a lot of the grass.
It's definately going to be the best looking place in the neighborhood
too. Most of my neighbors are taxed to the limit to manage to plant a
row of petunias beside the sidewalk. I've blown most of my tax refund
and have $400 worth of perennials waiting to go into the ground... I
have a gazillion seeds ready to sow...
I've probably blown close to a thousand bucks all told, but I don't
anticipate needing to spend nearly this much in the future.
Yes, it's all worth it. Spring is my favorite time of year, and this
is the best spring ever! All these years I've been aware of plants I
dared not purchase because I was gardening on borrowed soil (and on
top of a rock covered with 2" of hard clay). This year I own the
soil, and it's very fertile at that. It needs almost no amendmant as
it is, which is a huge savings in money by itself when compared to the
***I had to deal with before.
: I continually argued with clients about mature sizes of plants, cold
: sensitivity of plants, and the overall freeze danger of their entire
: landscape. Around central Florida, the rule of thumb is that 80% of your
: landscape should be cold tolerant. Are key focal plants still going to enhance
: the appearance of your home after the first frost? Will you go our and cover
: the plants which will not survive a freeze? What will those hibiscus trees
: look like at your front door two days after a frost? Those cute "little"
: shrubs you want in front of the window have a mature height of 20', do you want
: to be continually cutting them back so the windows are not covered?
What he said.
I've cut down and grubbed out a lot of bushes that were put in (by
someone else) as cute l'il things. 18-24 inches by the remaining tags -
six to ten feet and far too big for their britches by the time I whacked
them down. I didn't want to do it but they were just too big to move.
Mature size and hardiness are where buying plants from a good nursery is
invaluable. The gardening books are often in authoritarian conflict. One
says the plant will mature to a thirty foot tree; another says that it
will be a ten foot shrub. I find the "shrub staffer" and get a quick
opinion on realistic mature size in my area before I buy shrubs and trees.
A good nursery also won't sell bushes and trees that aren't hardy in its
Tom in Utah
> After all of this work, I'm glad when it's time to go to my paying
> job. It's a lot easier!
> Then again, if I had it to do over again, I would do it all again.
> It's going to look fabulous! I'm making up for spending the last six
> months with no place to grow anything.