It has finally come true. That perfect home for your family is a reality after months of dreaming and scheming, looking at pictures and poring over floor plans. You chose the ideal plan, picked the colors, materials, fabrics and furnishings.

What About the Yard?

The first impression neighbors and visitors will have won’t be the marble floor in the entry or the Persian rug in the living room. It’ll be the outside.

Attractive landscaping, including the right grass type and plants, is the finishing touch for a beautiful home. This takes as much thought and planning as your house did. The good news is, you can take more time in the planning and execution of it.

Planning

The key things to think about in planning landscaping are what you want, what will work, and what you can afford.

In considering what you want, think both present and future. If you have small children now, they need a shady place to play in the summer. But if later you’d like to put a pool in that spot, you don’t want a maple tree growing where the deep end will be. And there’s no sense in planting shrubs where you intend to install a deck or outdoor kitchen in a couple of years.

Return on Investment

Be realistic about what will work. What will grow well — whether turf, plants, or trees — depends on climate and soil. Choose plants that will survive and thrive where you live. Native plants are becoming the “in” thing, as they are low maintenance and require less water. Water consumption is an important factor in choosing plants. You don’t want your yard to shrivel up in times of drought and possible water restrictions. An irrigation system might be a good idea. But you also don’t want a water bill that will put you under water!

When it comes to what you can afford, think of landscaping as an investment. The American Society of Landscape Architects says 5% to 10% of a home’s value should be spent on landscaping. For a $200,000 home, that can be up to $20,000! That’s a chunk of change — but also consider that good landscaping can increase the value of your home by 15 percent or more!

Unlike your house, you can build up your landscape over time – months or even years. You can do the whole thing yourself, hire pros to do a turnkey job, or do a combination of both. DIY will be the least expensive, but hiring a landscape architect can at least put you on the right path.

Photo credit: Mike Procario on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND                                                    

Tips to Keep in Mind

Check the Rules.

The last thing you need on your plate is a fight with city hall over landscaping ordinances. You also want to avoid a conflict with neighbors over homeowner association restrictions.

Make it Fit Together

Photo Credit: Wikilawn

Generally, a formal home should have a formal, symmetrical landscaping scheme.  As you can see in the photo above, symmetry makes a big difference, but not for every home.  An asymmetrical plan complements a ranch or cottage. Think about the big picture.

Think Year-Round

Warm months come to mind when we consider landscaping, but your home will be on display all year. What will provide life and color even when the season changes? Sugar maples bring gold to autumn, and red maples are eye-popping. Evergreen shrubs keep the yard from looking drab. When you choose plants, stagger the blooming times so can keep color as long as possible through the year.

Pay Attention to the Edges

A subtle detail that makes a world of difference in a home’s appearance is the edges.  The borders created by flower beds, walkways, landscape installations and curbs should all be maintained regularly.  Use a weed eater with heavy line at least once a month to maintain the edges.

Be Realistic About What You Can Handle

Sure, you want a magazine-cover landscape, but do you have the time to maintain it? Kids and jobs are the top priorities — and time-consuming. You don’t want your landscaping dreams to literally die on the vine because you bit off too much.

Keep Resale in Mind

Yes, good landscaping increases value, but an overly ambitious scheme can be a turnoff to a potential buyer who doesn’t want to devote the same time and resources to a yard.

Done right, creating lovely landscaping for your home can be a point of pride, enhancement of value — and the pursuit of pleasure for years to come!

Top Photo Credit: Pixabay

Jacob Palmer is a gardening and landscape design writer. When mowing lawns on his street as a child, he discovered a lifelong passion for landscape design. He now has three children who can all be found helping him most weekends with his next big garden project.