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What is the best place to start when redoing your entire landscape?

I love my new home, but the landscape is a mess. Part of it is overgrown with shrubs, small trees, and vines. Other parts of the yard haven't been touched. What's the best way to get started on what seems to be an enormous project?
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Landscaping that is done well adds a great deal to your property's value, but it should also suit your needs. Rather than start with things you can add to your landscape, begin by removing the detractors. Then you can move on to adding landscape components that bring enjoyment and value to your home. Following are some suggestions for breaking the task into workable steps. Trees. Mature trees are a tremendous asset, but if branches are dying, rubbing against the roof, or threatening to fall in a storm, pruning or removal is in order. For work on tall trees, call in a professional. Safety concerns. Does anything pose a safety hazard? For example, look for obstacles on pathways, foliage that blocks sight lines from sidewalks or driveways, crumbling retaining walls, drainage problems, or a blocked view of the front door. Existing beds.

 

Examine plants to see if they are healthy and uncrowded. If you notice disease problems, determine whether they are due to an environmental condition such as compacted soil or poor air circulation. Lawn. Is there an apparent problem with disease or weeds? How difficult is the terrain to mow? Is there too much lawn or not enough?  Curb appeal. Step across the street and look at your house for a few minutes. The front entry and access to it should be easy to see and look inviting. The trees, shrubs, and other plants should frame the home, make it look attractive, and not overwhelm it. Professional help. Even if you're on a limited budget, consider getting professional landscaping help. The more difficult and expensive the project, the more likely you are to need someone trained in this field. A good landscape architect or designer can make suggestions at differing levels of expense. The expert can help you prioritize what needs to be done first and figure out which parts you can do yourself.

 

Mapping it out. Before you dig or plant, have the yard marked for utility lines, property lines, an irrigation system, or a buried pet fence. Avoid damaging the root systems of existing trees by digging too closely to them or compacting soil with heavy equipment. Check local regulations about planting near streets and sidewalks and about requirements for water gardens.   Anchoring plants. Trees and shrubs are usually the biggest plant investments in your yard, so choose carefully. Have some idea of what you want before you go shopping. Your cooperative extension service will have good information about plants that thrive in your area. Hardscaping. Patios, decks, retaining walls, garden structures, and pathways can make a difference in how much you enjoy your property, and can create more outdoor living space. Flower beds. Adding flower beds can be a simple and inexpensive way to increase curb appeal. With any flower bed, soil preparation is key.

 

Planting the right plants in the right soil is the first step toward that goal. After you've made changes in your landscape, remember to take pleasure in it. Disappointed in what you see? That's all right; you can change it again. Most gardens are a work in progress. The important thing is for you and your family and friends to be out there in it, having a great time!

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A big part of it is the accessories in your yard. Check out this blog on things that help http://myfriendslane.com/blog/?p=823. Install plants, water fixtures, etc. It can add up pretty quickly for a really different look.
Submitted by oji1999
From my small experience of home ownership for 2 years I learned not to drastically change the landscape if you don't want to break the bank. If you have the cash then the sky is the limit. We are in a heavy wooded area. We decided to install plants that can survive shade such as ajuga ( purple) hostas, oak leaf hydrangea, japanese fern ( lovely) coral belles, japonica. all with colored leafs.
Submitted by whoopzdaisy
I have no idea where to start on my house...I have redone the floors and walls inside...now going outside...I am divorced 53 and feeling it...I would like to have a nice yard but it is a small yard in front and the back goes on forever...and there is nothing pretty about it..not a lot of money or time ask I work...where to start??? any advice
Submitted by djsbowers
I just bought a new home, and most of the yard is shaded. I would like a lawn for 2 kids and a dog, or at least a hardy groundcover? Which would be best and pet savvy?
Submitted by lillycalla