How to Design a Stunning Outdoor Space

There’s a reason why landscape design professionals make so much money. But you don’t need to hire a professional landscape designer to put together a gorgeous and welcoming outdoor space. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just getting started, anyone can put together a beautiful landscape with a little planning and foresight.

The first step is to know the conditions affecting your landscaping site. Think about what your new plantings will become, and how you might want to use the site in the future. Use similar shapes or colors to bring cohesion to your new beds. And don’t try to revamp your whole yard all at once; work on your new landscape a little at time.

Know Your Site

If you want your plantings to flourish, you need to choose plants well-suited to the conditions of your garden. Take the time to analyze your landscape, perhaps even over the course of an entire season, to determine which areas get sun at which times of day, which areas are partly or mostly shaded, which areas are well-drained, and which areas are swampy. Consider testing your soil to determine its pH and composition; many lawn service providers in Memphis and around the country can help you with soil testing, as can your local university extension office. Figure out which areas are most exposed to the wind and elements. Learn where sewer, water, and other utilities are buried, so you don’t dig them up or plant a tree right on top of your septic tank.

In addition to understanding the composition of your soil and the influence of the elements on your landscape, you’ll also want to spend some time getting to know your garden. When you first move into a place, you can’t yet really tell which parts of your garden you’ll want to spend the most time in. Spend time in your yard and learn where you prefer to spend time. Which areas naturally lend themselves to play and relaxation? Those are good spots for grass or plantings, or even more complicated features like patios or ponds. Which areas do you not feel inclined to spend time in? Those are good places for cisterns, compost heaps, or other similar features.

Anticipate the Future

Are you planning to install a deck, porch, pool, patio, or other permanent feature, like a shed or gazebo? Arrange your planting beds accordingly. Consider that, at some point, large, loud equipment may need to enter your yard for repairs and improvements, and leave space for that to happen.

You should also consider how big your plants will get when choosing where to plant them. Don’t just buy plants on a whim; carefully consider whether they’re right for the spot you have in mind. Use the gardener’s mantra: right plant, right spot. While annuals are temporary and small perennials can be transplanted, it would be a shame to have to remove large trees or shrubs because they’re overgrowing the space allotted for them.

Keep Things Cohesive

A garden bed is like a painting, in that it should create an integrated composition. Consider how you can create cohesiveness in your landscaping design. Choosing plants of similar shapes and complimentary colors can help. Fill in spaces between larger plantings with ground cover and use mass plantings of perennials to enhance their impact.

Start Small

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a successful landscape design won’t be either. Don’t work yourself to death trying to put in all your beds and plantings in one fell swoop. A landscape needs time to mature; you need to see how your plants will grow into the space they’re given. If bare space in your beds bothers you, plant annuals for the first season or two, so you don’t have to make a commitment to perennial trees and shrubs. Work on your beds for a couple of hours on the weekend, but don’t wear yourself out. Give your landscape time to develop naturally.

Landscape design might seem complicated, but it’s really just a matter of knowing your site, choosing plants carefully, and giving them time to grow. With a little hard work and a lot of patience, your landscape could soon be the envy of the neighborhood.

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.