Creating Useable and Functional Landscape


It all starts with a good plan.

by Charlie Thigpen

It’s a New Year and the perfect time to reflect on your landscape. Are you happy with the way it looks? Does it fit the needs of your family? When you buy a house you also buy a yard, so make your landscape an extension of your home. We live in the Deep South and are able to spend time outdoors nearly year ‘round. Even if there is a little chill in the air you can sit around an outdoor fireplace or fire pit and enjoy and appreciate the great outdoors.

Put it on Paper

If you aren’t good with plants or design, you might want to hire a horticulturalist, garden designer or landscape architect to help with a plan. If you have a good eye for design and know plants, you should still sketch out your plan on graph paper.

This allows you to look at the plan, position plants, make sure your plantings are balanced and think about spacing. This way, when you go to a garden shop or nursery you know how many plants you’ll need to fill the space.

Make it Work

A good-looking yard really doesn’t mean a lot if it doesn’t fit your needs. Driveways, parking and sidewalks need to be functional. Vehicles should be easy to maneuver and walkways should be easy to navigate. When my wife Cindy and I moved into our house we had a large deck, but it really didn’t work. There were 17 narrow steps that exited to our side yard, right next to our garbage cans.  We moved the steps to the center of our deck and now we have only nine broad steps that lead to the center of the backyard and flow nicely into our landscape.

Get to Know Your Plants

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is planting plants in the wrong location. They plant sun-loving plants in the shade or shade loving plants in the sun. Know where the sun rises and sets in your landscape and how much sun your yard receives, and plant accordingly. Today it is so easy to find plants on the computer and see how and where they grow best.  It’s also easy to find out how big they will ultimately get.   Plant appropriately and only plant low-growing shrubs or ground-covers in front of low windows or porches.

Little Bit at a Time

Most homeowners usually face time and budget constraints, so only do a little bit at a time. Break down your yard into sections such as foundation planting, entryway, backyard or side yard.  Each season try to work on one of these sections. It will be easier to maintain a small, newly planted portion of your yard and it won’t be so overwhelming.

It’s a new year and a good time to plan for your beautiful, functional landscape. Happy New Year and Happy Gardening.

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