Is This the Spring When You'll Start That Project

Home Improvement

There's never been a better time! Even though you may feel you've been wasting your time by not acting until now, you'll find that's not true at all. Imagining how you might like your yard to look is a great first step. Come a little further with us now, and have the following imaginary dialogue with a professional landscaper. Let's say you've asked him to come in as a consultant. Log your answers; they'll grow into your project plan. And you'll find yourself moving confidently from thinking to doing.


1. Do you have much experience with landscaping?
If you're not sure just how green your thumb is, think small. Select one area of your yard - one side of your deck, window boxes in the backyard, in front of your porch - and experiment for your first season. Confining yourself to a small space will allow you to be a little adventurous without breaking the bank. Before you select your spot, move through questions 2 - 4.

2. How can you make the most of your natural environment?
Think of your project as an accent rather than a makeover. Spend some time getting thoroughly acquainted with your green space. What is the current focal point? How could it be enhanced? Remember that landscaping can be stones and leafy greens as well as flowers.

3. How will you interact with your finished space?
Will you be admiring it at a distance, or will you want to be in the midst of it? Is it a space that regularly sees high traffic, or is it a quiet corner? Answers to these questions will help you make solid decisions when you get to the nursery or garden store.

4. How much time do you have to spend?
If you're the one who's going to be doing the work, what block of time could you allocate in a regular week? If the realistic answer is four hours on the weekend after the planting, that's going to help you decide the size of your space. And what you plant. For example, cute little crawling vines have been known to grow into monsters unless they're clipped every day.

5. Can you visualize the landscaped space?
After you've selected the area for your project, take several photos of it - closeup, and then from a distance. Tape your photos on poster board or plain white paper, and make some notes there about the ground: is it sandy, moist or dry? What's growing there now? Is it thriving?

6. What is your budget?
Even the professionals won't put the first spade in the ground without knowing what you want to spend. Select a range that you're comfortable with, and stick to it. You'll do more next year!

7. Gather your relevant information.
Watch for a home and garden show in your area. What you plant and how you care for it will depend on the climate where you live. If you can't locate a show, create your own on the Internet. Use search engines like Google? or Yahoo? to get the information you want. Start broadly, with a keyword like "landscaping" or "gardening" or get as specific as you like with "tulips". Or use advanced search for phrases like "landscaping advice." You can probably connect online with the gardening expert for your area. Don't forget to check the common enemies of the plants and flowers you're beginning to prefer. Even an hour on the web can make a significant difference in what you know and don't know. And what questions you want to ask at the nursery.

8. Head for your favorite nursery or garden store.
Armed with your photo plan, your facts, and your budget, you can talk effectively with the people there to get exactly what you need.

9. Do a dress rehearsal before you plant.
You've thought it all through, but take one last step before pulling on your garden gloves. Set the boxes of plants in the area you've selected, then retire to a distance to evaluate the arrangement. It's much easier to move them a foot to the right before you plant!

10. Congratulate yourself!
And take the weekend off just to admire your work. In fact, invite your friends over for lemonade and some extra kudos. You did it! And it looks great.