You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage, “Measure twice and cut once.” It's good advice that's not just reserved for homebuilders! When you're creating a beautiful yard, it's tempting just to dive in and get your hands dirty, but taking a little extra time to thoughtfully plan the details will pay great dividends when it comes to the enjoyment, functionality and longevity of the finished product.
Here are a few points I’d like you to consider before you begin choosing the elements that will create your garden.
Patios, decks, walkways and retaining walls are the bones of any integrated landscape design. It’s important to choose the materials that suit your homes architectural style. If you live in a traditional brick Georgian home, for example, you should consider using either a formal bluestone or matching red brick (or a combination of both). To ensure a cohesive look, it's best to use no more than three different materials.
Size and Shape
The formula for determining garden size is fairly simple. Grand houses need matching gardens; smaller houses beg for more intimate landscaped spaces. It’s all about balance. Shape is important, too. Often it’s a chance to shake up the norm. Is your home contemporary with lots of rectilinear lines? Use curved garden borders and rounded plantings to soften the stark edges. If your architecture leans more toward the traditional, linear landscape design can provide the counterpoint you need to add excitement to your yard.
“When you’re creating a beautiful yard, taking a little extra time to plan the details will pay great dividends in added enjoyment, functionality and longevity of the finished product.”
Not every outdoor living area is required to contain a fireplace, fire pit or elaborate water feature. Consider your lifestyle. How do you routinely use the yard? What parts of the yard receive the most use? Which parts receive the least? Do you have trees that can substitute for man-made structures? If a simple flagstone patio and table suit your needs, it will be perfect for you. Less is more. Also consider trouble spots in your backyard. Does the neighbor have a barking dog? Is there road noise? A water feature may be able to drown out the offensive noises and provide the pleasure you are seeking outdoors.
When planning a deck or patio, consider how you want to use it. A perimeter space that is close to the house is important if you want to use the space as an extension of your indoor rooms. Transferring plates of food or keeping an eye on your dinner on the grill while relaxing in the family room requires a perimeter entertainment area. A destination site may be on the other side of the backyard and works for those who want a separate area to hold special events such as an end-of school bash or Independence Day barbeque.
Choose plantings carefully for each type of space. The proximity of perimeter patios makes them easier to maintain, while destination spaces often need privacy plantings to screen unwanted views. As always, we recommend employing the services of a licensed landscape contractor to protect your investment.