The foundation to any great landscaping should always begin with a plan or design. I would strongly encourage anyone who has been contemplating taking on yard project to have a good game plan in mind.
One of the first things I try to get a good feel of on my first visit to a client’s home is their lifestyle. This is a very important to consider in my job of properly designing an appropriate landscape for them. How much you end up maintaining your new landscaping will be determined right from the start. There are many different styles and types of landscaping. Some of the more popular ones are “Natural”, “Formal”, “Xeriscape”, “Japanese”, “English”, “Tropical”, and Water Gardens. However, the two most used are “Natural” and “Formal” so let’s take a closer look at those two.
The “Natural” style of landscaping uses planted beds with curved edges. Plants are arranged in seemingly random patterns. It also reflects the natural way that plants grow in an area. This style has a less manicured appearance than many of the other garden styles and might be a good choice if you do not wish to spend a lot of time on maintenance. A “Formal” style of landscaping follows symmetrical patterns, straight lines and precise geometric shapes with orderly, well pruned plants. You will often find more topiary designs in these types of landscapes. This landscaping style often requires a lot of maintenance. Formal landscapes if not maintained regularly can actually look neglected pretty quickly.
I recently met with a retired couple that wanted some help redesigning their existing landscape. After visiting with them it became apparent that their exercise, hobby, therapy, and real enjoyment in life was gardening. A “Formal” landscape seemed to fit their lifestyle. At the other end of the spectrum, one evening last week I met with a couple whose lifestyle consisted of: mom works full time, dad had two jobs, they had five children of all ages, they had to be at basketball practice, dance lessons, gymnastics, piano lessons, soccer practice and church activities. Obviously a “Formal” type landscape would not be appropriate for this family, however a “Natural” landscape design would be a perfect fit for this “on the go” household.
So, as you can see it’s important to stop and think about your own lifestyle when you start planning or designing your new or renovated landscape. If you’re not careful you can be a slave to something you really don’t have time for. Therefore, I strongly recommend before you start your next landscaping project, sit down a few minutes and think about what style might fit you most appropriately…you will be glad you did!!
Once you have determined the style of landscaping that fits your lifestyle the next step is to actually move forward with the design process. This also can be accomplished in a number of ways depending on the size of your project. If the area or areas you’re working in is relatively small, you might be able to simply get by with a quick sketch. If your project includes a very large or multiple large areas on a pretty big scale you may want to proceed by hiring a designer to help you with a more advanced drawing or blueprints that will be exactly to scale. Also available to you with the age of technology we are in, you can actually have a computerized design made on a CD that shows you a virtual “walk-thru” of your new landscaping. The computerized version however is very expensive and if your project is fairly small you may want to be more cost efficient with your dollars and keep design costs as inexpensive as possible using more of your budget toward your actual project. Your landscape professional can help you decide that.
Question: Jimmie, I just had a pool installed in my backyard and am now ready to landscape it. I moved here from Florida and really miss that tropical feel. Are there any tropical things I can plant here to make me a little less homesick? – Sandi M. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Sandi, I have good news for you! There are actually quite a few tropical plantings that do pretty well here. In particular for height centerpieces, you may want to consider Windmill Palm trees or Sabal Palm trees, they are two of the heartiest of the Palms for our zone climate with really no need for wrapping trunks with burlap in the winter. Sago Palms are also used frequently as a lower tier to the taller centerpiece Palms but you need to be willing to cover the foliage on them if a hard freeze is on its way, if you don’t cover it and it does freeze, simply cut the foliage back to the main trunk and it will totally refoiliate by early summer the next year. Oleander is a great tropical shrub to use here with wonderful flowers all summer long, just be careful that you don’t have small children that might eat the poisonous foliage. Some great perennials to use would be Hardy Hibiscus, and Verbena. For annuals use Tropical Hibiscus, Mandevilla, and Bougainvillea, and Crotons.
Question: Jimmie, Our pool and landscaping around it is now about 18 years old or so, kids are grown and off to college. It is beginning to look tired and in need of repairs and upgrades. I know you see this type of thing all the time. What is typically involved in a pool makeover or remodel? – Janet C. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Janet, well don’t feel like the lone ranger! Yes, we do see this scenario quite often actually! What your describing would typically involve resurfacing the pool, repairing or installing new tile around edges, and a new surface coping around the pool. The pool deck will be the most aesthetic part of your upgrade (I am assuming yours has cracks like most by that age) so you would perhaps want to consider a patterned/colored/stamped concrete, pavers or travertine surface. Those are the most popular. And yes, don’t forget to top it off with some fresh landscaping to soften your new pool! Until next time… Happy Gardening!!
Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.