landscaping - Paramount Equity®How do you transform an ordinary yard into a neighborhood showpiece? It’s easier than you think. Even a simple design can look elegant with the right blend of design elements. Softscape elements include grass, trees, hedges and other plants. Hardscape elements include walkways, the driveway, fencing and rocks. Follow these steps to learn how to landscape your yard.

Sketch

Sketch the design elements that you want. They might include a winding path, a rock garden, tall bushes in front of bedroom windows, flowerbeds or a raised bed vegetable garden near the kitchen door. Start at the front of the house and pick a focal point. The focal point might be a flowering tree or a large, round flower bed with a statue in the middle.

After choosing the focal point, decide whether you want to line the walkway with flowers, dwarf bushes or ornamental grasses. If your walkway is plain cement, then you might want to upgrade to decorative paving stones. You can purchase pavers in brick, slate and other stones. Reseal the driveway, if necessary, as it is part of the landscape.

Place flowerbeds under windows if you want fragrance to waft through the house on warm summer days. Place trees far enough from the house that their roots will not damage the foundation. Slowly walk around all four sides of your home deciding where to place bushes, trellised vines and perhaps a gazebo. Sketch each item with its approximate length and width. This will help you to keep all design elements in proportion to the size of the yard.

Choosing Plants and Trees

Research the mature size of all plants and trees, as well as the type of root system. For example, some varieties of hostas can grow quite wide, crowding out smaller plants in the flowerbed. Some trees reproduce with surface runners that can be a nuisance. You might need to adjust the soil pH in some flowerbeds, depending on your choice of plants.

Choose native plants as much as possible. Your local garden center can recommend the best varieties for your region of the country. Select colors that coordinate with each other. For example, a flower garden with dark red and purple flowers is not as attractive as one with red and yellow flowers. A color wheel might be helpful. Choose a combination of light and dark flowers, different textured leaves and plants of varying height.

Good luck with your landscaping!