At the beginning of my career I was a landscape designer. Sometimes now I wonder how I did it. I’m definitely not as confident of my ability now as I was then. Maybe that’s just an age thing. What I can say definitively is that I learned so many practical lessons from developing my own home landscape. My husband and I bought a new home, with a very small yard, in 2001. Part of our financing required that a lawn be planted in the front yard before move in. Since we had 2 dogs, we thought putting lawn in the back would be good as well. Our builder was the one that was doing the installation. I decided we needed a basic design to start and an irrigation system. My dad was a great mentor to me in regards to design. He taught me almost as much as I learned in school. I value his skill and asked him to help me design the bed shapes and where he thought trees should be planted. The builder installed the grass and irrigation. My husband and I began the process of amending the soil and filling the beds with plants.
Almost ten years later, our landscape is full. It is, however, still a work in progress. I have learned much: the order in which you do things is important, you can retrofit an underground sprinkler system for drip irrigation, soil structure is even more important and complicated than I thought, and sometimes you just have to go with what speaks to you.
My dad designed with many angular and square lines. My husband really thought that was a cool look. The front landscape was rather simple with repetition of plant varieties. It was well thought out. I made the ultimate selection of the plant varieties with input from Dad. When we got to the back yard, I started with key elements but then started planting all my favorite plants. We discovered that we felt like we were in a fish bowl whenever we were on our patio, which was frequently in the summer. We felt a need to add more vertical elements for privacy. We added a hot tub and when we were soaking I would gaze at the yard and think of things I wanted to add or change. Finally one day my husband got me to confess that I really preferred rounded beds, less lawn and more of a cottage garden feel. So my long-suffering husband patiently carved out more space for plants, added more drip lines and installed more pavers. My neighbors probably all hate me. My raspberries travelled next door, my Tropicana Canna Lilies travelled to the neighbor behind us and my honeysuckle is growing up another neighbor’s cherry tree. At least my bamboo is in a pot!
We are starting on reworking the front landscape, enlarging the planting beds and adding a little more variety. We’ll be reworking the rose garden, too. It’s my garden and I want it to reflect my tastes but I enjoy getting suggestions from all my family. Sometimes when I have my parents over to dinner, I will drag my dad outside and ask, “What would you think if I did this?” or “What plant do you think look good there?” My sister promised to help me get things ready for a garden tour in June, so this week we are going to do a walk through and talk about possible changes. I find all of this to be exciting and rewarding.
So why am I sharing all this with you? Having a basic plan for your landscape is a good first step to creating a garden that you will enjoy. The plan can be done by a professional and be installed by someone other than you. Or you may have your plan in your mind and work on achieving it over a period of years. Or it could be anywhere in between. Now is a good time to start that plan. Lee Powell, who happens to be my brother, and is a talented landscape architect can provide a number of different services by appointment. Descriptions and fees for those services are on our website. Garland Nursery has many experienced, talented staff that are happy to offer plant suggestions. On Saturday, March 12th at 1 pm, Lee is teaching “Landscape 101”. He will be sharing basic landscape design tips that will help you get started transforming your space.