Landscaping comes last when building a house and homeowners often defer landscaping until after they move into their new home. That's not the best idea as now you're juggling lots of added expenses – window coverings, new furniture to fit new living spaces plus landscaping. You guessed right, if you realized that landscaping because it's outside, tends to fall to the bottom of the list.
Landscaping is also really hard until you have a plan. Your home has rooms so you're able to decorate one room at a time. Until you draw up a landscaping plan, you don't really know what types of trees, shrubs, ground cover and flowers you'll need or where they'll go. One of the best investments you can make, and one that will save you money, is to hire a landscape architect. They'll provide advice on landscaping to reduce home cooling costs, water conservation through water-wise plants and more.
Working with a Landscape Architect
What does a landscape architect do, and how much does it cost? That depends on the size of your house lot but generally less than $1,000 but it doesn't matter because a good landscape architect will save you money. They will draw up plans for your outdoor space and identify where all the trees, shrubs, ground cover and gardening beds should go.
Landscape architects save you money unless you're an experienced gardener. They'll stop you from buying larger trees and shrubs than you need and/or planting them too close together. The worst thing you can do is cut back expensive plantings or even worse, remove plantings once they've gotten bigger than the space can afford. Having worked with landscape architects in California, New York and New Hampshire, they are worth every penny! They can review the work done by any landscapers you hire, to insure you get what was specified … as you and I won't catch mistakes.
Landscaping Ideas For Your Outdoor Areas
Foundation plantings are among the first things homeowners consider when planning their landscaping. That's great but it's a good idea to step back and look at how you want to use your backyard, and sometimes the side yards if they have the best views. Once you have an idea of where your outdoor living spaces will be, you can evaluate each area for shading requirements and water conservation … and don't be afraid to leave some of your yard natural.
- Deck and patio areas for family dinners and entertaining, as often you realize you want more space that the small ones included with most new homes.
- Children's play area with swing set, sandbox and more as they love having their own space (read Backyard Fun is More Than a Swing Set).
- Lawn area for children to play on, keeping turf to a minimum as it requires more water than other types of vegetation.
- Gardening areas for vegetables and your favorite flowers. Consider where to put a rain barrel to capture runoff from your roof, and a composting bin.
- Maybe you need a dog run, and if not today, should you plan where one might go in the future?
- Is there a pool in your future that needs level ground?
- Next you want to identify walkways to navigate through your yard? a storage shed and will you want to add shrubs or fencing to hide utility boxes, garbage and recycling bins and more?
If you're ready to plan your own landscaping, there's lots of great information at Home-Water-Works.org, with tips for preparing your site, soil, picking the right plans for water conservation and so much more.
Landscaping Ideas for Water Conservation
- Plan your irrigation systems before planting. Overhead irrigation with spray heads is less efficient than drip irrigation (hose wrapped around shrub to the right), so limit's use to lawns and try not to plan lawns in narrow areas where over-spray will result in runoff and water waste. Don't plant trees in your lawn because they need less water, and excess water might reduce their lifespan.
- Group plants based on how much water they need as this will reduce your overall watering needs, and make it easier to install the optimal irrigation.
- Place plants where the combination of sun or shade, combined with irrigation or watering, will help them thrive. Plants that like moist soils should be placed in areas near water runoff, that get more shade and are protected from the wind and sun, like the north side of fencing. With plans that like drier soils, they will do well in open areas more exposed to the sun and wind.
Once you've drawn, your landscape design will identify the types of plants you want for each area. You can get plant ideas by walking, biking or driving around your neighborhood. Visit your local botanic gardens and demonstration gardens, find local nurseries that specialize in water-wise plans or find university cooperative extension programs that provides advice on gardening. In NH, you can get tips for gardens and landscaping, including things like weeds, plant diseases and backyard livestock.