Landscape like a proWant to plant the garden of your dreams but are currently faced with a backyard full of plain dirt? While this situation may seem depressing, it actually is probably the best situation one could ask for to start the landscaping process. A bare backyard essentially represents an entire clean slate in the process of landscaping your home.

Planning and Conditioning

If you want to learn how to landscape like a pro, it starts with planning. A good developer doesn’t go out and start laying grass sod hoping for the best.

First, start with an evaluation of what you have. Soil makes a big difference and a lot of people get stuck with clay instead. If this is the case, the dirt needs to be conditioned. More than likely, if it’s a new home, the soil has been roto-tilled already so it just needs to be mixed again with new soil and gypsum. This will degrade the clay and make the soil usable again for growing.

Then the desired landscaping should be drawn out on paper, with every specific detail, plant, and feature. By figuring out the details ahead of time, it avoids guessing later on. Planning on paper also spots problems ahead of time with choices, designs, and plants chosen.


With a finished plan in place, the area then needs to be prepped. If the dirt is bumpy then it needs to be leveled. Areas designated for cement need to be cordoned off and pour forms built to hold the cement. If something heavy like a hot top is to be placed on the cement, rebar should be laid down after sand and gravel are put in to form a bed for the expected cement. If an area will have a slope it should be shaped ahead of time by shovel.

The backyard overall should also have a slight grade to push any rainwater or runoff away from the foundation of the house. Drainage and irrigation should then be installed. French drains work best with a pre-dug trench, the pipe installed, and then a bed of gravel above before covering with dirt. This creates a deep, permanent drainage line that draws water out to the street gutter.

Planting and Finishing

With all the above out of the way, landscaping can get to the actual installation. Use plants already grown from seed and in their first year, taking the whole root ball out of the pot and installing it into pre-dug holes according to plan. Cement should be laid in the forms and allowed to dry with pre-set crack lines to account for drying stress. Finally, the last piece should be the laying of grass sod after a bed of new soil is put in below.

After all is done, you can then sit back in your new yard and enjoy a BBQ or a quiet evening with family.