Planning For a Landscape Makeover

Many friends came to me for personal advice when they are considering landscaping their yard.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is what is the best way to go about a landscape makeover project? It is a big decision and many people have no idea where to start!

As I often discuss with my clients at the initial consultation, there are six things to consider when starting a landscaping project. Hopefully this advice can get you on the way to completing (or at least planning out) your dream yard!

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1. The House

It is fundamentally important that the garden compliments the house, not just in terms of style and aesthetics, but architecture as well (ie. Design style, shapes, lines, colours and materials). Quite often it also happens that when renovating a house, the yard and driveway get messed up or even damaged due to ongoing construction. And at the end of the day it makes sense to renovate the house before the garden, because after all, isn’t it easier to match a garden to the house, than the house to the garden?

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2. Activities and Lifestyle

Different families have different needs for their yard – larger families with kids may spend a lot of time playing in the yard, whereas young couples may use it as an outdoor entertaining area for dining and hosting parties. These not only contribute to the style and furnishings of the landscape but also the elements that go into the landscape design such as types of plants and other additional features like swimming pools or barbeque pits.

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3. Seasons

Seasons play an important role in planning the types of flora for your garden. It is important to consider the lifecycles of different plants and fill your garden with diverse flowers and plants that can add colour and style throughout the year. It’s good to start in summer with plants such as early bulbs, witch hazel and pussy willows, followed by blooming annual flowers in spring. Leafy
foliage and trees change in autumn adding a burst of colour. Some plants leave seed heads in winter along with red berries for birds. Trees like birch have unique bark patterns which can add
an interesting look to your garden year round, even without leaves. Other plants such as evergreens or cacti are suited well to locations with less seasonal weather.

4. Timing

The best time to have a professional landscape contractor or architect evaluate your landscape is when all the existing foliage is mature and leaves have fallen. You will have a clearer view of the land and what needs to be changed. You may also need consider when you would like to start entertaining guests or when relatives are coming over for the holidays, and plan your renovations accordingly to meet a specific timeframe.

5. Maintenance

How much time and effort do you want to spend keeping your yard in shape? Not everyone has a green thumb or is a gardening enthusiast. Most would end up opting for a low maintenance yard. This means less lawn to mow, more native plants and water-efficient irrigation.

6. Zoning Permits

It’d definitely important to understand the municipal zoning regulations in your area. You don’t want to cross the finish line on your project and find that you’ve violates the local code
or built part of it onto your neighbour’s land. Large features like fences and pools may require zoning permits and approval. Always ensure that your landscaper knows the latest codes and is familiar the procedures for getting permits approved.