I wanted to dress up the outside of my home, but I was overwhelmed. What should I consider first? And what will give me the most "bang for my buck?" After consulting a professional, here’s what I learned.
Start by asking yourself a few questions.
- Are you a do-it-yourselfer, or would you like to hire a contractor?
- Are you in a new home with no landscape or minimal landscape supplied by the builder? Or do you have an existing home with mature landscape?
- How long do you plan to stay in the home?
- What are your maintenance requirements?
Answering these questions will get the ball rolling. Your first step should be to contact a professional. Whether your project is large or small, most landscape companies will provide free ideas & estimates. Call a couple companies for different options. Having a good design to follow from the beginning is "money in the bank." Otherwise you may put a lot of time & money into a project that doesn't look good in the end.
Once you have some good design ideas, you can save by installing the project yourself if you are landscape savvy. Its common for quotes to be half labor & half materials, so you may save a fair amount. Some companies will work with you, and allow you to provide some of the labor and they will finish the project.
Be cautious not to bite off more than you can chew! It works well to have the professionals install the hardscape elements (patios, walls, etc.) and do bed prep (sod & plant removal, soil amendments, tilling). Then the homeowner can do the new plantings & mulch.
If you are in a new construction home, you may have a great landscape in which case you just need to let it grow! If you’re not so lucky, you can transplant existing material & add new. Large plants like yews, junipers, & grasses may not be good by your front door, but they make great screens for a/c units & electric boxes. Homeowners with mature landscapes may need to consider 'rip & tear' projects.
You can leave key focal point elements & remove large overgrown or dying plants. A good update is to reshape the beds. You can replace straight bed lines with more appealing serpentine layouts. And adding colorful plants with seasonal interest is always a nice touch.
How long you plan to stay at the home will help guide the landscape investment. For short term homes you want to focus on projects that will enhance the curb appeal & resale value. For homes where you plan to stay long term, larger landscape projects with bigger budgets are more common.
You can create backyard spaces with pergolas, covered patios, outdoor fireplaces & kitchens that will allow you to fully enjoy your investment.
Finally, consider your maintenance needs. Do you like to work outside on the lawn & garden in the summer? If so, a colorful perennial garden may be just the thing. Or a "cottage garden" style landscape will require more TLC, but oh so beautiful! If you travel a lot or your schedule does not afford much free time for outdoor work, then you're like 99% of customers who request low maintenance.
Never fear, you can still have color without all the work. There are plenty of dwarf & compact varieties of plants that offer tons of color. So don't skip the first step, get some good design advice. Happy planting!