Creating a landscape plan is a big job! It will take time, some measuring and some math. But the good news is, once you have a master plan you won’t have to create one again! The key is to plan twice, plant once. The landscape plan will be your guide to everything in your landscape and will help you make smart choices as you move forward and make changes in your yard. Keep a copy of your plan in your car so that impromptu nursery visits will not be a problem.Here are the steps to getting started.
1. Take a site inventory and analysis
A site inventory includes all of the factual information about your property that will go on the master plan. It includes things like property lines, house dimensions, driveways, utilities, easements, vegetation that will be kept, fences, etc. You can use a survey plat from when you purchased/built your house to get you started, or you can do your own measuring. Measure your property lines and how your house sits on your property. Measure your house and note windows and doors. Add this to graph paper. If you make each square equal one foot, it is easy to get your plan to scale. By creating a to-scale plan, you will be able to make sure your plants are spaced properly and you will be able to use your plan to accurately measure for mulch, bricks, or numbers of plants you need to purchase.
After you take a site inventory and draw your plan on paper, make a couple of photocopies to work from. When you have your existing property on paper, you will have a better visual of what your yard looks like. Now it is time to determine how you want to work with what you have. Maybe you want to enlarge a patio, add a vegetable garden, plant shrubs to hide utilities, or create a rain garden. At this time, you can sketch your ideas on paper and work to create zones.
2. Create zones
When you have some ideas on paper, you may begin to notice distinct zones. Private zones for entertaining and dining (in the backyard), utilily or work zones (this is an area for your compost bin, potting table and storage), and you will have a public zone in your front yard. These zones can be further broken down into groups such as shade plantings under trees and specialty gardens (butterfly gardens).
3. Getting creative
After you have a good concept of how you want your landscape to look and feel, you can start experimenting with mulched bed lines and adding plants to your plan. Remember to space your plants properly and use mature sizes when putting them on paper. This will give you an accurate count of how many plants you need to purchase.
In the next design post we will talk about laying out beds and how to really get artistic and creative with your landscape design. If you would like to read more about how to lay out your property on paper, read this publication. Happy drawing!