While it’s always great to rely on the skills of a landscape design expert when planning home improvements, it can get very expensive to hire someone. Besides, nothing beats having a personal touch in any part of your home’s design. These days, with all the information and ideas that you can get from books and the internet, designing your own landscaped garden isn’t that difficult. Here are some ideas and tips on how to design your very own landscaped paradise in the backyard…

See what’s already there/not there.

The first thing that you must do is to simply look at what you have; what’s in your garden. Look at the things that are presently in your landscape and figure out what you want to keep and what has to go.

If you’re starting from scratch, take some time looking at the garden and figure out what kinds of things you want to put in there. This is something that you must not rush—take some time to explore themes that you like. Browse through magazines for some ideas— Do you want to add a garden path? Would you like your garden to look summery? What kinds of plants would you like to use? The design inspirations are endless and your ultimate choices will be influenced by your geographic area, the climate and the style of your house etc.

Following are some specific considerations to keep in mind once you get started on the actual planning.

Draw your plan

You don’t need a degree in architecture to do this. By using basic shapes and diagrams, you will be able to create what you would want your garden to look like. Make a simple drawing indicating what’s already there, and then see what things you can add or remove. Print a couple of copies for this, so that you will be able to see different versions of your outcome. This will allow you to see the landscape’s potential. At this point, you don’t need to have the exact dimensions, as you’re only getting the look.

If you are feeling particularly ambitious try using a 3D modelling application just like the pro’s. Google provides a very powerful free alternative to the expensive modelling applications. Google Sketchup is free to download and is very easy to learn. It can be used to design your garden down to the smallest details. There is even a gallery of projects other people have designed for inspiration.

Go from biggest to smallest

Once you have you spacial plan figured out and you’re already pretty certain of the garden’s general appearance, you can start placing the features piece by piece into your design, but start with the big items such as gazebos, waterfalls, fountains, pools, and large pieces of outdoor furniture etc. Having items such as these laid out in the garden will be a huge leap, and once you have them in place you will pretty much know what will happen next. You don’t need to put all of them in their permanent places, they can always be moved around in the design. It’s just easier to get the big things in first and then tweak the positioning of the smaller stuff.

Plants

Plants are clearly an important parts of your garden design. Aside from the beauty they’ll bring to your garden, plants will also function as ideal shades, dividers, screening, etc. Visit some local gardens, or go to a nursery and look for the plants that will look good in your garden. Once you have an idea of what you like, find out more about them. You need to make sure that they will be apt for your situation, considering such factors as heat tolerance, soil, and light requirements etc. The nursery staff will be able to guide you on this, and help you make alternative choices to best suit your situation if necessary.

Weather

In line with the discussion on plants, another thing that you must pay attention to specifically is the weather in your area. This will determine the overall literal feel of your garden. If it’s sunny all the time, you will want some form of permanent shade. If you’re in an area where the weather constantly changes, you will still need shade, but something also possessing enough flexibility that will adjust itself to wind, sun, and even snow (for those of you in the deep south).

Details that matter

You start your design making sure the big parts are in place, but it is the small parts of your garden that help out a lot in creating an overall identity, so don’t ignore the small stuff. The colors of the cushions or the size of the grill, the position of the hammock and the spot for the planters – these are the things that you must not ignore. The key is to do your design planning slowly, and in your own time so you don’t get exhausted or bored of the project and end up with half-baked ideas. You must stay the course and complete you design with just the right level of details.

More and more people are experimenting with new designs, and there’s never been a better time for discovering more things to do with your outdoor space, so go ahead and experiment and design it by yourself!

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