Lets Grow

Design Homework Assignment

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Published February 14th, 2011

One reason many people postpone landscape improvements is that they aren’t sure what they want. Some people are good at imagining finished landscapes, but most people aren’t. Walking around in nurseries can be mind-boggling. Many home landscapes are just a collection of plants that were bought on impulse because they attracted attention when they were blooming.

Another reason for putting off landscape projects is time. There aren’t all that many major home improvements that can be done in a single weekend, but that’s all the time, patience, and energy many people have when it comes to landscaping. Landscape work is drudgery for most homeowners. Routine maintenance tasks like mowing and weeding can eat up much of your available time, especially if your landscape is poorly planned (or unplanned). It’s also hard for many people to visualize major projects.

If you’d like to have a more attractive landscape, you have a magic tool that will make it possible like never before. It’s called a digital camera.

As many times as you’ve looked at your home, you’ve probably never looked at it through a landscaper’s eyes. A huge first step toward a landscape design is simply taking photos of your property from every angle. What does it really look like from the street, or from your neighbor’s yard? Sit in your favorite chair on your porch, deck or patio and capture what you see. Stand at your kitchen sink or your front door and capture the view. Looking at these photos will call your attention to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Take your camera with you for a few weeks as you drive around. You’ll probably see some pretty landscaping or some plants that catch your eye. Stop and snap a photo. What you’re seeing may not work in your particular yard but you’ll start to identify what appeals to you and what you like, and that’s very helpful.

Another great resource can be found in homemaker magazines like House Beautiful and Midwest Living. They have feature articles with lots of pretty photos, showing “dream homes” and well-done landscapes. Some of these will appeal to you and capture your imagination; take a moment and clip them out. Even if these projects are out of reach or inappropriate for your yard, it’s still helpful to identify what you like and develop your own personal taste.

In our garden center we have a “Snapshot Gardening Design Desk” where we give our customers free landscape guidance. If people bring us photos and measurements, we can send them home with everything they need for simple projects. The more photos they have the more helpful we can be. If their needs are more complicated we might recommend a “house-call”, but very often we’re able to get them started on the most important step based on their photographs.

Having a plan on paper makes any home improvement project more successful. It saves wasted time, effort and money no matter what. If you do a little homework, you can get much better guidance from any design professional.

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