When designing a backyard landscape there are many elements to take into consideration. Not only is the size and shading important, but you also need to think about lifestyle choices. For instance, if you have a young family, you may want to expand the lawn area for them to run and play on. If not, you should consider what kind of things are important to you – things such as:-
- A pool
- An alfresco dining area
- A gazebo
- Lots of pretty flowers
- Privacy from the neighbours or street
- A water feature
- Making a small space look larger
- Creating shade in a hot, sunny space
- Letting more light in if the space is narrow or very small
- Hiding a fence or including a vegetable patch
- Extending a paved area for low maintenance.
How to Find a Backyard Landscape Design
It’s a good idea to start off by looking through some landscaping or gardening books authored by a landscape design specialist to see what you love and what is not so important to you. Once you get the inspiration and know what you want to a great degree, you can start to sketch out some ideas on paper.
However, don’t rush this process. It is essential to take a good, hard look at your backyard space at different times of the day to find out where the most shade lies and where those sunny spots are. Take note of the surrounding areas. Are there tall trees that will throw dappled shade over your backyard, or a tall building that casts deep shade? Another thing to consider is the time of year. Some areas are ideal for certain plants in the summer, but too shady in the winter.
How to Have Healthy Plants
The best way to ensure you have healthy plants is to choose them to suit the environment you have. Planting sun-lovers in deep shade will soon see your lovely plants looking sickly. When you choose plants to suit your backyard you will be able to enjoy healthy plants all the time. However, it is possible to tweak your environment to some extent to make it more suitable for what you would like.
One of the most important items to consider when choosing plants is your soil type. Browse the neighbourhood and see what types of plants are growing well. Is your soil pH neutral or acidic? Most flower shops will sell easy to use pH soil test kits which you can use to determine your soil type.
Is your soil loose or more clay like? Some plants like one more than the other. Taking the time to properly assess your soil condition will pay off in the longterm given the higher likelihood that your plants will thrive if chosen correctly.
Considerations for Trees in your Backyard
If your space is very sunny, you can grow small trees that provide a canopy of light shade. Even one tree can make a difference. But stay away from trees that will grow into giants; they have no place in a small backyard. Their roots can invade your house foundations or the plumbing, while large branches are likely to come crashing down in the next storm.
In fact, it is wise to find out what size each plant will grow to before you make that final decision. Also, do some research on the root growth of the plants you like. Plants with a taproot that grows straight down will survive dry weather and not interfere with any underground pipes, but plants with shallow roots that spread may be more suitable to an area that has shallow soil and clay underneath.
Don’t forget your Soil
Of course, cost is another important element to consider when you start landscaping. It is important to set a budget and stick to it. Importing soil or purchasing large plants that are almost fully grown will cost a great deal more than working with what you have and choosing smaller plants. Soil can be improved by adding manure and mulch. Or if your soil is really poor, you could import soil to just the areas where you need those larger plants. Another way to save on costs is to recycle things such as building supplies. For instance, old railway sleepers can make great edgings or planters.
If you have no experience with gardening or landscaping, it may be more cost-effective to consult a landscaping specialist. That way you can be sure that the plants will be right for the area and you won’t lose them.