Residential Landscaping: Everything You Need To KnowPublished: 13/02/2023 | Updated: 11/05/2023
Residential landscaping is an art and science that every homeowner should pour attention to. Developing the landscape around your property is one of the most important projects one should undertake on behalf of their house for a multitude of reasons.
Why is Good Residential Landscaping Important?
A good landscape design that is installed correctly and is well taken care of, with everything that entails, is crucial on various levels and has to work well on all of them.
Beauty is appealing, this much is clear. And it's also effective. No one can live comfortably in a place they conceive as ugly. This doesn't just apply to the interior of your house.
But externally too. An attractive landscape design, on a visual and audible level, is first and foremost attracting you to spend time and delight in it. It can be soothing to your senses after a long day out.
So a good landscape design should be beautiful and soothing to all your senses. It should be visually appealing, enchanting to the ears, and smells nice.
As important as the aesthetically pleasing aspect is, your outdoors isn't a canvas for you to gaze upon every once in a while. It's a big part of your house's property that should be functional and comfortable.
That means that a good residential landscaping design will not forsake functionality for beauty. Or vice versa. Both are equally important.
It has to be functional enough for the family, with or without children, to use it comfortably. Functionality also means no unnecessary maintenance. That the plants otherwise chosen naturally go well enough with the landscape that they require only crucial, low maintenance.
Because this means it can have a long life span and its functionality doesn't depend on you working on it for hours every day.
Wildlife and Environmental Level
A good residential landscaping design understands both the part and the whole. Your house is a part of a bigger neighborhood, bigger town or city, bigger zone, and area.
It's not only important to help the planet and climate improve, as well as take care of the wildlife around us, but it's also very beneficial to the landscape design itself. The choice of appropriate plants makes the garden thrive with very little maintenance.
They require less water, which means less effort on the resident's side but also less waste in areas where water is in danger of running out.
A good landscape design can help buffer the climate, make the winter warmer and more bearable, and the summer cooler.
All of those levels aren't separated. They all affect one another. But one of the most important goals when coming up with a landscape design, some can say the primary purpose, is to increase the economical value of the house.
In other words: improve the curb appeal. A good residential landscaping design, especially with professional landscape designers, should utilize all the previous factors to increase your house's curb appeal.
Ultimately, all the money you pour into the project should be more invested than just spent. Studies show that efficient landscaping can increase perceived home value by 5% to 11%.
And aside from curb appeal, the economical level also means that the design will enhance and best use the existing landscape to enhance and beautify the existing features without spending any unnecessary money.
As well as choosing plants that don't take any toll on water bills, and can decrease energy bills by naturally buffering temperatures.
Which Road Should You Take?
Once the goals are clarified, the next step to take is to design a plan. It's as crucial as a good installment itself, if not more.
Any good plan needs a clear blueprint. A landscape design project is no different. A long-range plan clarifies the road ahead and gives equal attention to every important part.
It's a scheme to the best research, choose and mix plants, construction materials, and artificial features and utilize them to the maximum benefit of all mentioned factors.
After careful planning and well-thought-out design, the purchase and installment of everything begin.
There are three different ways you can go around designing and installing, each with its pros and cons. Which one fits best depends on you and what you want:
Full DIY means you do both the landscape design and the installment. Its main advantage is that it's the cheapest of all options. You'd be doing all the work yourself, so there is no labor cost involved and the money will only go to the materials and plants.
It can also be a lot of fun to do your landscaping project if you have sufficient background and skills.
The main advantage though, is that unless you're a professional yourself, it's highly likely both the design will be poorly thought out and installed incorrectly, resulting in long-term problems that might siphon off more money in the future than what you'd have put in it the first time.
It's not just the money, but the overwhelmedness and stress that make the cons of this choice. Time and effort are also problems.
A popular enough choice for homeowners is to hire a professional landscape designer and follow their plan and install everything themselves.
This option is the best of both worlds if you want to cut down on costs and are also excited to do some hands-on work. Professional landscape designers will be selecting plants and scheming the best use of everything and where deciding on the general plan you'll follow.
Then if you have sufficient skills in gardening and general installation, you can follow the plan yourself.
The disadvantage is, it's still a lot of work and time for you, as well as risky for potential problems resulting from incorrect installation if you don't 100% know what you're doing.
Professional Designer and Installer
The last option is also a very common one. You hire others for both professional landscape design and landscape installation.
The one con to this plan is that it'd cost you more than the others. But on the other hand, everything will be taken care of for you from A to Z.
If you don't have personal time and aren't sure of your abilities to do things professionally, and can afford the process, then this is the best road to take. And once the professional landscape design is done, you don't have to follow it immediately by hiring the contractor.
But the designer will take a lot of your mind by doing the plant selection based on year around aesthetical quality and the maintenance that suits you.
They would put a lot of knowledgeable, careful consideration to the big picture by considering the existing landscape and enhancing it, to result in landscape unity and to avoid any common mistake like causing an asymmetrical balance.
But a good residential landscaping designer won't do all the choices for you. To reach the final picture that you want, your preferences will be considered at every point, with the pieces of advice and suggestions of the professional.
What Is the Process?
It's crucial to know the process of professional landscaping project design if you will be the one designing it. But it's no less important even if you'll hire another person. The more knowledge you have, the better it is.
You'll be in the know regarding everything a professional does around your house, which will ease the process, improve communication, and give you an idea of whether the image you have in mind is doable or not.
The main steps of the process go:
The first thing you or a professional would do is site analysis. For this, you'd begin with a base plan.
A base plan is a simple sketch of everything that is already there on your property. The house itself, measured on graph paper with one foot equaling one square on paper, and any artificial structures, like patios and water features, and plants. They would all be labeled.
The house should be drawn within the boundaries of your property. It's important to note where exactly the boundaries lie. Then point the north direction of your property on paper to note the sun and winds directions.
After clarifying the boundaries of your property, the most important thing is to precisely locate the power lines and pipes of all kinds - gas, water, and sewer. Mistakes here can be very costly, both in the short and long terms.
Mistakingly cracking a pipe is a hassle you don't want to get into. And planting certain trees so close can be a problem when their roots reach full maturity and pressure down on pipes, or when they grow to mature size they can have problematic interactions with the power lines above.
What you'll want to do next is note the areas on your property that are reserved for specific uses. Whether you'd want to change those uses or not, everything should be noted down for more clarity down the line.
Whether that's a little area reserved for child's play, a swimming pool, or a vegetable garden, take note of it. You'd also want to note where you and other family members usually walk to get a good idea and correctly direct foot traffic.
The next crucial step is to note down everything about the environment that can affect your landscape design. That mainly includes observing sunny and shady areas in your yard (affected by existing unremovable structures), noting the path of the sun and the direction of winds, both summer and winter ones.
This will have a big effect on how you'll select the right plants. Another environmental thing that has a lot of effect in that regard is also your soil. You'll want to get it tested at this point to note its acidity level, as well as other characteristics.
And also the topography of your property. That includes slopes, ravines, and ridges. Taking this into consideration will also affect your plant selections, especially with cover plants and so.
The last thing you'll want to take note of at this stage is the views. Not just external views of your property. But your personal views from the inside of your house. Most unwanted views can be resolved through a smart and efficient landscape plan.
For example, evergreen plants are a very good choice for making natural screens to hide unwanted objects. Other select plants grow to be so thick they make natural privacy borders and prevent outsiders from easily peeking in.
Studying the Landscape and Outlining Ideas
Once you have noted down all those facts and made a base plan, you can start figuring out how you'll use your outdoor areas. This is where your personal needs and desires figure in.
Generally speaking, any residential landscape can be divided into a public area, a private area, and a service area.
Your front yard would be the public area, which is visible to passersby and the first thing guests meet when they visit your house. The front yard should be the simplest part of the landscape, with no to little clutter or visual confusion.
Simplicity with a few specimen plants to highlight the entrance is more than enough.
The backyard is usually a private area. This is where you and the other household members would spend time in your day-to-day life, as well as host parties and entertain relatives and guests.
So this area can include a seating area, a patio, or a deck, with spots under the sun and spots in the shade, with functional features like a fire pit for warmth in an outdoor fireplace, or an outdoor kitchen.
Privacy, alongside comfort, is the main purpose of this area. Screen planting is useful here for this, maybe with the inclusion of a specimen plant or two to enjoy the distant views.
But generally, this is your area to fill with what you love from plants, shrubs, and favorite trees. Although, you still should follow a theme and take into consideration how all different plants complement each other.
Otherwise, you might end up with a visual mess.
The last area of your property to consider is the service area. This is the area reserved for utilities: garbage cans, firewood piles, compost bins, and outdoor storage. It's usually screened out of view and only serves to serve your family in a basic way.
To play around with different design plans at this stage, you can use tracing paper on your residential design base plan, to see how your ideas play out and even draw a few with different tracing paper, and decide on the best.
Plants Selection and Materials
As you have noticed across the article, plants have a multitude of uses beyond just a basic aesthetical quality. The aesthetics of your landscape design should follow a scheme or a theme, best chosen by your preferences and the style and colors of your house.
As textures, colors, and shapes can clash together instead of building on one another for a beautiful larger picture.
Otherwise, you'll have to choose plants according to their durability and adaptability to your climate, soil, viewing and privacy needs, size, and even neighborhood. And also maintenance, as well as their uses in natural construction materials.
Your preferred plants can need lawn care and a specific sort of regular maintenance you know you can't keep up with, with your lifestyle. In this case, you should seriously consider alternatives that demand lesser maintenance.
Other plants might be beautiful but not enough large trees to provide comfortable shade in the summer or make screens.
Aspects you should keep in mind when selecting plants are hardiness against the cold or tolerance against heat, drought tolerance, light requirements, rate of growth and mature size, soil drainage requirements, and pest and animal attraction.
Once you selected plants and decided on a deck or patio or anything of the sort, you need to know how plants are usually positioned in landscaping.
Certain plants make up different categories. In a general landscape, you have the specimen plant, or more often specimen trees, the accent plants, the corner plants, and foundation plants.
There are also entrance plants, border plants, and screens.
Each of those plants has a specific usage according to their position. Specimen plants, for example, are very attention-seeking and usually take center place. Accent plants are similar but for smaller groupings of plants rather than for the entire yard.
Once you know which plants go best where, you or your professional designer can start putting it all on graph paper, making a functional plan that can be used to install everything going forward.
You can contact Shrubhub at any time to get an estimate for a design and a guaranteed professional designer that can increase the value of your home!