I'm Considering a New Look For My Yard, What Should I Do?

Whether you have moved into a new house with nothing but dirt for a yard , or if you are just ready to consider some major changes to your landscape, here's information you can use to help you get the yard you want. Tired of just grass and a few shrubs or plants as your landscape design? Is your yard mainly weeds and you want more? Kids growing up and not needing such a big play area anymore? Do you want to make your home's exterior an extension of your interior so you can enjoy its beauty in good weather? Whatever your reason for deciding on some changes to your landscaping, we present you with ideas you can use to beautify your landscaping so you can enjoy the outside of your home as much as you enjoy the inside of it. From doing it yourself to hiring it done; total renovation or just adding some shrubs, barkdust and minor changes, you should find what you need here to get you started towards having the landscape of your dreams. Let us begin!

Begin With A Plan

We can't emphasize planning too much when it comes to doing something like this. Even if you're only considering landscaping a small portion of your yard or just adding a few plants and shrubs, having it down on paper first gives you an idea of what comes first, next, and so on. Whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a landscape designer, making your plan is the first step. You can get some great ideas at, better know as Better Homes and Gardens. Their web site offers a planning feature that allows you with design anything from container gardens to your whole yard. They offer ideas on everything from plants and shrubs to a major yard makeover. Even if you're going to hire it done, check here first. recommends beginning to plan at least a year before you start working on it. This gives you the opportunity to study your yard's sun & shade, any drainage problems, good locations for any trees or bushes you may be considering, privacy issues, etc. Get ideas from your friends' yards, from gardening and landscaping books and magazines, and from online web sites.

Landscape Professionals

If you are going to use any type of professional help with your landscaping, it's recommended that you only contract out one portion of the job at a time, to be sure you are satisfied with their work. Following is information on the basic landscape professionals and what their role is.

Landscape Arhitect
Are trained and licensed in most states, and are the most qualified to design your total landscape project. Their services will cost you the most, but if you can afford it and are picky about what you're doing, these are the people to turn to.

Landscape Designer
The next step down from a landscape architect, the designer is usually not regulated by any governmental agencies. Check their references carefully for satisfied customers. These people deal more with your plants than with any structural changes you may be thinking about.

Landscape Contractors

These people carry out the plans of the architect and/or designer. They are not regulated, either. If you are not using a contractor or architect, we recommend getting references from customers andfollowing through on checking them out.

Garden Center Staff
More than likely won't have any expertise in designing or planning your landscaping project, but they should be expert enough to help you with your plant needs. They may have an on-site landscape designer to assist them, so be sure to ask.

Landscaping On A Budget

If your budget is tight yet you want to improve your landscaping, here are a few tips to consider so you can still have a nicely designed yard and save money. Landscaping can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars, into the thousands, depending on what you have done by others and how much (or little) work you do yourself. One money-saving idea to consider is to do the work a little at a time. Breaking the project down into segments can save you money and allow you to spend some of your free time doing something else besides landscaping. Here are a few more tips:

  • Plan ahead. As mentioned before, the first thing you should do is plan your new landscape.
  • Get bids. If you are having most of the work done by a landscaper, get at least two bids for the jobs you plan to delegate to professionals.
  • Do some of the work yourself. Or hire "cheap labor" in the form of a teen-ager, who can do some of the unskilled labor and save you time as well as money.
  • Save some of your existing landscaping. If money is limited, salvaging what you can of current plants, shrubs and trees means you don't have to spend money replacing them.
  • Replanting grass? Seeding your new lawn is much less expensive than sod. If you can wait, plant seed rather than lay sod. See our related article on lawns for more information.
  • Consult with Professionals such as your county extension agent or garden center. They can give you tips and ideas for your project.
  • Avoid impulse buying. Buy only what's on your plan, this saves money, and your design won't be adversely affected.


Landscaping provides privacy, recreation and pleasure. Keep the purposes of your yard in mind as you begin this project. Will you play games here, or will this be a place to relax and enjoy a bit of nature. And remember that landscaping can add to the value of your home, especially at resale time. Make your plan, consult with a landscape architech or designer, and begin your project with confidence that the yard of your dreams is in your future.

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