Give your home a lovely and inviting appearance with a do-it-yourself approach to landscape design. Advance planning and basic gardening knowledge will change an uninspiring lawn into a conversation piece with flowerbeds, garden statues, trellised vines and ornamental grasses. Plant a hedge to shape your yard and perhaps a flowering shrub, such as hydrangea or gardenia, as a focal point. Use trellises to shade the sunny side of the house or to provide additional privacy in front of windows.
Draw a rough sketch of your yard, noting areas that have abundant sunlight or are shady most of the day. These areas require different plantings.
Choose a color and texture scheme for the landscape. Choose various flowers, ornamental grasses and bushes that offer variety in blossom and foliage colors, shapes, sizes and textures. Make sure you choose a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season.
Mark areas on the sketch where you want privacy, such as bedroom windows that face the street. Use trellises or tall bushes in these areas.
Choose a focal point for the landscape. Some suggestions are a statue or birdbath surrounded by flowers and ornamental grasses, a profusely flowering collection of shrubs or a rock garden with a small waterfall. Look through gardening magazines for inspiration.
Design either a straight walkway from the street or a curving path up to your front door. You may want a path through a backyard garden. Decide whether you prefer paving stones or bricks for these walkways.
Add seating areas, and perhaps a gazebo, to your landscape design. If you have young children, set aside an area for them to play.
Design the borders for the yard, walkways and individual gardens. For example, small shrubs may border the walkways, or you can use a boxwood hedge to delineate the property line.
Decide if you need an irrigation system for your yard and garden. While many plants do well with a sprinkler system, other plants, such as Gerbera daisies, are more susceptible to powdery mildew and white flies when their leaves are wet.
Add outdoor lighting to the landscape design. Small lights illuminate pathways without being obtrusive on the landscape. A lighted gazebo extends the hours that you can enjoy it. An easy-to-use alternative to wiring lights to your electrical system are solar-powered lights, which can be installed anywhere without the use of wires.
Test the soil pH in each of the areas and write the results on your sketch. Soil pH test kits have strips that indicate whether the soil is acidic (having a pH of 5.0 to 6.9) or alkaline, which is a reading above 7.0. Some plants thrive in acidic soil while others prefer alkaline.
Research which plants grow well in your climate, and make appropriate choices for the soil pH as well as the sunny or shady parts of the landscape. put taller plants in the back of the garden beds to avoid blocking sunlight from the smaller plants.
Group only those plants with similar nutritional and watering requirements in each garden bed. For example, some plants need a higher level of nitrogen that would burn the roots of other species.
Research different styles of edging for the garden beds and choose one that fits in with your landscape design. There are many choices including 6-inch tall bamboo or pine mini-fences. There is also standard black plastic. Edging helps deter weeds and grass from encroaching in the garden beds, in addition to being decorative.