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Landscaping Your Yard

Ten Things You Should Do This Year

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Page 1 listed ten New Year's resolutions for landscaping your yard in the upcoming year. As we probe deeper into these resolutions, note how much more is involved in landscaping your yard intelligently than simply mowing the lawn in a different way or using the latest in landscape edging products. If you truly wish to turn over a new leaf in landscaping your yard, you'll have to do a bit of soul-searching, make some difficult choices and undertake a wheelbarrow-full of planning.

Indeed, planning is the hallmark of landscaping your yard intelligently. So many landscape designs suffer visually from a lack of foresight! Worse still, you, as the one responsible for the ongoing landscaping of your yard (i.e., maintenance), will continue to pay a price for years to come in some cases due to hasty decisions. For instance, selecting the wrong plant for a particular location -- or selecting the wrong location for a particular plant -- can lead to endless maintenance headaches. For large projects, begin your planning by putting something down on paper. It's called a "landscape plan," and you can consult my article on how to draw landscape plans to get you going in the right direction. As you sketch plants into your plans, consult my classification of types of flowers according to growing requirements so you'll know what to grow where.

The first two New Year's resolutions for landscaping the yard share a common theme. People tend to think of patio or deck construction and the installation of water features as projects that require professional help. I would like to disabuse you of that notion.

Resolution 1: I will build a patio or deck.

You do not have to be a carpenter to build a deck, nor do you have to be a mason to build a patio, be it a brick patio, a flagstone patio or a concrete patio. Of the two projects, building a patio is perhaps the easier one for the average person. A brick patio or flagstone patio with a base of sand is especially easy to build since, theoretically, you could do a certain amount of work one year, then pick up where you left off during the following year. Decks and patios are must-do practical projects in landscaping your yard, since they provide a transition between indoor living and outdoor living.

Resolution 2: I will install a water feature.

The urge to install water features is less a practical matter than it is an emotion within us that craves the soothing sights and sounds that only water can bring. You can go crazy with a water feature and spend lots of money on highly decorative water garden fountains, or you can install cheap water features that are surprisingly simple for do-it-yourselfers to create. There's a water feature out there to match any budget.

Resolution 3: I will hire a tree service to have limbing work done on any trees that present a hazard.

Landscaping your yard sometimes entails undertaking do-it-yourself projects, as is the case in these first two projects. By contrast, other times you need professional help. In those cases, your challenge is not at all in the doing, but rather in finding information -- information that will help you make a well-informed hiring decision and help you supervise the work. If a large tree limb looms threateningly over your home, you need to investigate local tree services to find a professional who will do the job to your satisfaction.

In the next three resolutions for landscaping the yard, the focus (at least initially) is very much upon planning. For each of these projects, you may well spend more time on figuring out what you want and how to implement it than on the physical work itself. But, believe me, it will be time well spent.

Resolution 4: I will define my landscape design style and implement it.

Before locking yourself into a particular landscape design style -- and locking yourself into the maintenance work it entails for years to come -- doesn't it make sense to engage in some soul-searching first to figure out what you truly want out of a landscape design? Unless, of course, you're putting your property on the real estate market, in which case the style of home landscaping you choose has more to do with the general public's tastes than your own.

Even if you're convinced you already know what landscape design style you prefer, it could be that your viewpoint simply derives from what you've been used to all your life. If you grew up with an extensive front lawn and a few evergreen shrubs around the house foundation, such an image from your childhood may be limiting your conception of what a landscape design can be. An examination of the history of landscape design reveals a specific rationale behind landscape design styles. Learning how these styles evolved can help you ask the questions you need to ask to determine the landscape design style right for you.

On Page 3 we'll continue our look at my Top 10 New Year's resolutions for landscaping yards....

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