Getting Started with Landscaping

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Your first concern should be your family’s outdoor needs. How do you plan to use your yard and garden areas? The front of most homes usually is the public area, to be designed merely as a setting for the house and to enhance its appearance from the street. The back yard and sides of the property usually are the living and entertaining areas, play areas or service areas, and functional areas for storage or a vegetable garden.

To decide the proper use and size of each area, you should draw a scale outline of your property. School graph paper is ideal. Scale down your drawing to 1⁄4 inch to every foot, making the overall outline from fence-line to fence-line. Fill in all driveways, walkways, fences, and other hardscape items, as well as the outline of the house itself. Any existing trees that you wish to retain should be marked, together with “hot spots’’ where shade is needed. You may want to check your deed map to determine the exact dimensions of your property. The architect’s drawing of your home also is useful to show the placement of doors and windows and the orientation of the house on your lot. You may also have to check a contour map to determine any rises or hills in your yard. Some properties will drop a foot or two over the length of the yard, a factor that will affect your landscaping plan. Once your scale drawing is complete, you can make decisions on where to put flower beds, trees, shrubs, rock gardens, etc. If you intend to put in a pool, choose a large, open area away from any existing trees.


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