By: Lisa French
The landscaping of the exterior areas around your house should be as personal in taste as your interior decoration.
A driveway and garden are usually the first impressions a visitor has of your home. They should always be as trim and well cared for as your house itself.
Naturally, landscaping, like most things, depends on individual taste. Some people prefer a wild, natural look in gardens and outdoor areas. Others prefer the clipped hedges, planned walks, planting and ordered flower borders of the stylized English garden.
Before planning your landscape, check the zoning regulations of your community, if you live in the city. This must be the first step, as many zoning laws determine the limitations on the height of trees, shrubs and other foilage, and their placement. Interior and corner lots often differ in these respects.
The cost of landscaping varies with each house, as does the planning. The location of the house on the property, the size, shape and elaborateness of areas planned for trees, shrubs, lawn and flowers are of course the controlling factors. The larger, more intricate garden naturally cost more than a smaller area.
Here are some good basic pointers to remember when planning your landscaping.
Privacy - Shrubs, bushes, a cluster of trees can serve as screens from adjoining properties, walks, roads and create a park like effect at the same time. Clever landscaping of a patio, terrace or swimming pool adds to their usability and attractiveness, also provides perfect privacy.
Integration - A driveway should be fully blended with the foilage to create an attractive first impression of your property. The proportion of trees, grass, shrubs, bushes and flowers should be carefully balanced with concrete, graveled, asphalt or flagstone driveways to dispense with a paved, sidewalk effect.
Shade - A single, large tree may be a joy to look at, but make sure it does not obscure the house or shade it too much. Plant a tree or cluster of trees at the edge of the lawn, so that you get the most benefit from the shade on hot days. Make sure the trees do not overhang swimming pools or sun patios, and obscure the sun. Also bear in mind that trees near a pool mean falling leaves and debris to clean out of the water constantly.
Levels - A garden on flat land can be planted with little regard to change in grade (level). Some land is not totally flat, so do not overlook grading problems in your plans. However, a garden that has more than one level is more interesting and much more effective designs can be achieved. But, naturally, the cost are higher.
Drainage - If you are designing your own garden before calling in a landscaper, remember to settle the drainage problems first, or discuss it with the expert. You don't want puddles, ruined turf or plants, so settle the drainage system in the beginning.
Basic Planting - Once your design is complete, you have two courses you can follow in the planting plan. If your budget allows you to do the whole planting job at once, the sequence should be as follows: plant trees and shrubs first, then sod or seed your lawn. Should it be neccessary to carry your landscaping over a period of years, plant lawn first, add trees, shrubs and flowers later when you can afford it.
Plans - Your garden requires landscape plans, just as the interior of your home. If you have definite ideas about what you want, and the effect you wish to achieve, draw up some rough plans on graph paper. Then you can discuss the project fully with the landscaper. If you are an amateur gardener and wish to do your landscaping yourself, you will not need a set of plans to determine each area of your property.
This article was posted on January 17, 2006
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