An important step in landscaping your yard is knowing what you expect from the finished project. Think about how you plan to use your yard and how its design might enhance its use. Then assess your current landscape to learn what works and what doesn't. At first, focus on what you like and don't like about the existing landscape; then start identifying your family's wants and needs.
Make landscape planning an enjoyable process that includes everyone's ideas. Hold a family meeting to discuss the questions on the next page and brainstorm the possibilities. These questions will help you in creating a complete assessment of your current landscape, leading you to discover the best landscaping solutions for your home.
As you discover your yard's assets and shortcomings, list them in a notebook or on a computer. Take notes as you identify your needs and desires. Start a wish list and let the ideas flow -- don't worry about costs or labor at this stage. If an idea seems muddled at first, jot it down anyway; the details will likely become clear in time.
Keep an open mind and wait until later to make specific decisions. Your landscape problems and household needs will change with time. Both people and trees mature; lifestyles and tastes change, so consider the pros and cons of all the ideas. Learn how to conserve water with your landscape design.
Think about where you spend the most time in the house. Consider the view from your bedroom window, your favorite chair, the kitchen sink, or your seat at the dining room table. When you look out windows and doors, think about what you see, as well as what you would like to see. As you make landscaping plans, take advantage of existing views and consider how your proposed changes will alter the view.
Use the questions below and the checklists on the next page to assess your existing landscape and dream about future possibilities. Be sure to involve all family members in this process.
Use the checklists below to assess your yard's current features, and to select amenities you may want in your new home landscape. Don't be hesitant to select features you aren't sure about; you will have many opportunities to refine your list during the landscape design phase.
__ lot lines __ house __ driveway, street __ garage __ parking area __ sidewalk, boulevard __ deck __ patio, terrace __ sewer/water lines __ power/phone lines __ well, cistern __ septic tank __ terrain, slope __ soil, drainage __ existing trees/shrubs __ good views __ poor views __ sun exposure __ summer winds __ winter winds __ easements, ordinances __ deed restrictions
__ garden beds __ fence, wall __ paths __ gazebo, pergola __ greenhouse __ play structure __ pool, spa __ toolshed, storage area __ other buildings __ pet runs __ air conditioning unit __ fuel storage tank __ garbage cans, recycling area __ compost pile __ barbecue grill __ lighting