by Shannon Shimizu
Lisa Garcia and Gail Marino, partners in their one-year-old home redecorating firm, “I'm Gorgeous Inside,” shared a “high-five” after their first client gave them a standing ovation.Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. The long hot days and cool nights can be so much more enjoyable with great landscaping to enhance the quality of time spent in and around your home. It is an important extension of your home that can provide beauty and character for many years to come.
When planning the landscaping for your home, the first step should be to think about what you want to accomplish. 1) What are your objectives are for the space available? 2) How are your needs going to change and grow over time? How much time do you want to spend on maintenance? Whether you design it yourself or work with a professional it is important to identify your needs.
Before your brain goes running in a million different directions, it’s not fun but very necessary to think about a budget. How much money do you have set aside for your project? You may have to create a plan that can be accomplished in phases.
Drawing your plan is the second step. The base plan is the key to successfully creating a new outdoor living space. You don’t have to be a professional to draw one. Roughly sketch out the layout of your lot and house. Make sure to note all fixed elements such as trees, property boundaries, fences outdoor walkways and lighting. Once your base is drawn, you can experiment sketching multiple designs by placing tracing paper over your base plan. Keep sketching until you come up with a design that you love.
When planning your landscape think about the flow of the design. A good flow will offer a transition from your home to your outdoor living space. Keep in mind the traffic patterns that currently exist, as well as how you will work around the slopes and various other elements in your yard. Visualize the plantings in different seasons with different colors and shapes.
Your outdoors can be just as sophisticated and polished as the inside of your home. There are plenty of extra luxuries that can help personalize your space, while making it comfortable and useful. Built in fireplaces, planters and seating, as well as outdoor bars and cooking spaces are fun additions to any backyard. Sculptures and fountains are inexpensive ways to add your own unique personality to your backyard oasis.
Professionals can be helpful, depending on how extensive your work is. It is important to know your professional. The best way to find your landscape professional is by asking someone you know, friend or neighbor, other service professionals, or a contractor referral service.
In addition to enhancing your outdoor living there are numerous landscaping steps that can minimize your home’s impact on the environment. Using trees and vegetation to shade all east and west facing windows can cut your summertime air conditioning use. Shading windows from the outside with strategically placed trees or vined trellises, not only helps keep your home cool, but also provides a beautiful appearance. Using native plants reduces watering and maintenance. Keeping traditional lawn areas smaller, replacing them with ground cover or hardscape, preserves water. And recycling kitchen waste into garden compost is an effective and affordable way to keep your plants healthy and reduce your garbage.
There are several different types of hardscape available on the market today. Bricks and pavers offer a tremendous amount of versatility and a very traditional look. In addition pavers stay cooler and allow vegetation to grow through. Concrete and gravel, poured into any shape and finished in a variety of ways, can be an asset to your yard. Tile and flagstone are other options.
When planning your landscaping, keep a running wish list of everything you want in your backyard, even if you think you can’t afford it. You never know when you will find a great deal. Collect pictures from magazines and pictures of other homes. Remember that beautiful landscaping will not only enhance your home life, but will also benefit its resale value.
If you are planning a backyard-landscaping project, there are many reputable contractors that offer the necessary services and options. When choosing make sure the contractor is properly licensed. Always get multiple bids, not only from individual contractors, but also from consumer referral services as well. b