My wife and I rarely draw any plans when we remodel a home’s landscape. Instead of putting pencil to paper, we actually work out in the yard with rope and paint, laying out the different areas for grass, walkways, flower beds, patios, etc. We then spend time in the yard on a daily basis, paying special attention to how much or how little sun each space gets which helps us not only identify which plants are best suited for each space so they will thrive, but also where best to place our patios and decks for entertaining. We then rework and repaint our lines accordingly. Do we want both sunny and shady areas for entertaining? Do we want a lush tropical garden that might require more shade? Do we want a desert landscape that requires lots of sunshine? It’s also important to account for seasonal differences. An area that may be in the shade during the winter unique weed pipes, may get lots of sun during the summer. Is there a view we want to capitalize on? Is there a particular area to which we gravitate because it’s peaceful and quiet? All of these are important questions that need to be answered before a landscape can be finalized. The more time you spend in your yard, the more you become accustomed to how the yard flows, but also what areas are best suited for greenery and what spaces are best suited for patios and decks. No matter the size or configuration of your yard, there is something special about it and it is your job to identify that and capitalize on it.
If you are sprucing up your landscape in order to sell your property, you want the potential buyer to be drawn into the garden like a hummingbird to a flower.. If your purpose is to sell the property when the prospective buyer explores the space they need to be able to easily discover all that the property has to offer and most importantly to visualize themselves relaxing with family or entertaining their friends with pride.
To Begin our landscape remodel we shut off the automatic sprinklers. All the foliage and hardscape that is not in top condition is removed. I can not emphasize the importance of getting the property free of clutter. Large trees or mature bushes are left but everything else goes. The reason the water is turned off is that each time you water the remaining plants by hand you will get a better feel for the property and as to whether the remaining plants will survive the second cut or not. Without the clutter spaces open up and the proper flow of the property will begin to present itself. It does not take long before we understand and begin to appreciate what the space has to offer. We begin to solidify in our minds how to best use the space and where the focal points will be. It is at this time a decision must be made concerning the hardscape such as patio’s, mow strips, trellises and shrubbery. Either they merge into our plan or are removed immediately. One important point to remember is that just because someone else spent a lot of money on a patio, trees or shrubs’ you cannot allow that expenditure to dictate your new landscaping plan or you will regret it forever. Once the area is cleared out of any questionable structures or hardscape you will be surprised at how differently you think about the space and the possibilities.
At this time we have generally have an idea forming and we talk out any differences. We settle on an overall theme and begin to layout the mow strips, walkways, patios and special focal points such as a built-in fire pit and seating or creating space for a protable outdoor fireplaces or fire tables. This enables us to visually see and to walk the space. Once the layout is done and we agree it is time to go to work. First we install any sprinkler piping or electrical raceways for lighting or infrared or electrical heating. We also install any gas lines for BBQ’s,fire pits, fire tables, portable spas or if we plan on using outdoor patio heaters and would like the convenience of natural gas. We find it much easier to put the supply lines in now before any of the concrete or paving stones go down. Even if there is only a small chance that we will need more irrigation or lighting we place extra pvc piping so that we do not have to dig under the concrete later. After the all hardscape including decks, patios, walkways etc are in then it is off to the nursery for trees and plants. Once the all of the plants has been delivered we place them where we think they will go. Then we make any adjustments, excavate for the plants and place them in the earth. It is at this point that we place our finish sprinklers to the plants. Plants do better and there is less weeds if each has its own drip system directly at their base. Remember to allow room for growth. Then it is time to grade for the lawn and place the sprinkler heads and roll out the sod. As always a pair of pink lawn flamingos are placed somewhere in our garden. People get a kick out of the retro neon flamingos and potential buyers always seem to remember the zany characters in the yards. At this point it is time to have a party and invite the neighbors over so that we can show of our new outdoor landscaping.
Having an outdoor party is always fun plus you get to show off your work. There are two items that an outdoor party should not be without. The first is a wood-burning or gas fire pit or outdoor fireplace. Like moths to a flame guests tend to gather around the fire to sit and talk. Whether an elaborate built in or a portable metal fire pit there is nothing that compares to gathering around a fire. The second item is outdoor heaters. Cold weather will drive everyone indoors almost as fast as rain. You can do little about the rain but the cold is a different story, There are several types of patio heaters, electric, infrared, gas or propane. Propane best quality is portability in that the fuel source generally is encased in the unit and there are no electrical cords. Electric heater also have their own unique and desirable quality in that you will have an endless source of fuel. As long as the power is on you will have heat.