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Garden Landscaping – What Do You Really Want? Lesson 101
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Garden Landscaping – What Do You Really Want? Lesson 101

As a Green Keeper on a golf course, and landscaper with experience, I'm asked, continually, for help with people's gardens. “What do you see for your garden?” is the first question I will ask. “I don't know.” the usual answer. “I just want something special.”

When starting with a clean slate, a newly constructed house or building, it is a lot easier to plan, than an established garden of an existing house. There are no hard and fast rules to landscaping, most of it is deciding what you would like, how fast you wish to reach the result, and what will be the outcome in years from now. Forward planning is the most important consideration, the height of growth.

So many people plant plants they like without considering their resulting height, then they place them in an area that will completely over shadow the other plants in the area. What I have found, a favoured plant over others, are planted in the front of a flowerbed occupying the prime position. People want to see these plants, it's their favourite, then they plant smaller plants as fillers behind this plant. A year or two down the line, the background plants are over shadowed to such an extent, you can not see them, so why plant them in the first place? Sunlight, required for good plant growth, denied from the background plants, take on unnatural shapes and dimensions detracting entirely from their beauty.

Forward planning, always attempt to imagine how the garden will look three or four years down the line. This is not to say that all flowerbeds should have tall at the back and short at the front, whats being advocated, is consider the back ground plants, do they need sun light? Will they get enough for survival? Will you be able to see them behind the front plants, and gain beneficial beauty from what you can see?

For a new garden have a landscaper help you if so desired, but remember they are going to ask you certain questions to aid them in the design.

  • Are you looking for a low or high maintenance garden?

You might be in the position to afford help in the garden now, but will it always be so? High maintenance is what it says, a lot of work.

  • What are your preferences, colours of green or colourful flowering plants?

Colourful plants, by their very nature, need more maintenance, cleaning up dead flowers and keeping the shrubs in shape to enhance their beauty.

  • Trees and type of lawn grass?

Trees are important to any garden, shape, size, deciduous or not, flowering, shade and so many other factors like root development. You do not want to plant a tree with a root system that will lift you pathway or damage the buildings foundation. Lawn grass type, will depend on how much shade and sunlight the grassed area is to receive, certain grass types will grow in both sun and shade, remember this. A few years down the line changing your grass type, it is not only difficult, but expensive, get it right at the beginning.

  • How big an area lawn grass and how much flowerbed?

70:30 is a good ratio in warmer climates, colder climates will require a ratio conducive to how much of the year will the garden be covered in snow, and frost. Snow and snow weight can damage smaller shrubs and flowers, frost with no snow can yellow the lawn for the winter, all factors needing consideration.

  • Pathways and water features are there to be any?

These must be factored in for construction before beginning the garden, there is nothing worst than having a completed garden, then beginning to dig up areas for water features. The very construction can damage so much of the garden.

  • (The important question) how much do you want to spend?

This must not influence the final design. The garden is not required to be completed in one go. Begin with what you can, working to what you want. Construct what you can afford now, but work towards an original plan designed to achieve what you want in the end, do not detract from the original plan.

What about an existing garden you wish to change? Or landscaping 102 as I like to call it, this is far more difficult and will require a lot of thought.

Street Talk


Rob, this is a great article! We redid the landscaping in the back of our house 5 or 6 years ago with the advice of a landscaper and I am very displeased with the results. Most of the plants died because there just wasn't enough sunlight to sustain where they were placed. Others are so large, they look bizarre in their placement. But I'm most upset with the fact that we didn't select most of the plants we placed, they were suggested by the landscaper. He surveyed our yard during two different times of day and picked the wrong plants for our area. So sad and such a waste of money. I wish I had you to help me back then!

  about 1 decade ago

The planning of a garden to meet a clients need, is not the easiest of jobs. But incorrect plants and plant growth is inexcusable. I landscaped a garden for a couple a few years back. He bombastic, but prepared to listen, she suggested and he rejected her wishes. I spent an hour or two with them and promised to return the following day to see sunlight etc. I returned and spent three hours listening to the wives requests, nearly all good. I designed the garden as she wanted, told the husband it was my idea, and he approved. The garden 5000 sq m. in area turned out beyond my wildest imagination, the end result? She was ecstatic (she got what she wanted) He ecstatic, he had a good result performed by a professional, something he could brag about. To this day he has no idea his wife practically designed the garden. The point I'm trying to make, never discount your own abilities, follow a careful plan and it will work.

  about 1 decade ago
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