Recently I listed several great landscape planning tips contributed by Master Gardeners who are also garden designers. We learned the importance of making a sketch of the existing yard, planning different areas according to use and identifying “borrowed” views. We also learned to plant in odd-numbered groups, to select plants for year-round interest and to flow together the edges of beds and borders.
Now let’s take a look at free and inexpensive resources you can use to make your landscape a more beautiful reality.
Initial cost and eventual expenses are certainly issues in landscaping. Once you make a plan and have a plant list you may find that the cost is a bit beyond your budget. One way to deal with this is to prioritize your landscape. Beautify the high visibility areas by your front door and in front of your house and cover future beds with pine straw.
Another way to stretch dollars is to buy smaller plants initially. A one-gallon azalea will eventually grow to the same size as a shrub that started as a three-gallon plant. Realize though that this method will result in a landscape that looks a bit threadbare for a couple of years.
BE RESOURCEFUL Sharon Entin-Roth says it’s important to correctly identify the existing plants in your yard. The best time to go to a garden center for advice is on a rainy day or a weekday, not Friday through Sunday when everyone is too busy to spend time with you. She recommends taking a small tape recorder with you as well.
Post Propertiesraised the landscaping bar for commercial residential properties across metro Atlanta. Don’t hesitate to take pictures of their landscapes and those of their competitors to learn which plants combine well and succeed in our climate. Walk around your neighborhood and talk to people whose yards you admire – it’s a great way to meet people and gardeners LOVE to talk and share information.
FREE LANDSCAPE MATERIALS
Wood chips – call local tree care companies and ask if they are working in your area. Clearly mark where the chips should be dumped if they have some for you.
FREE GARDENING CLASSES
Extension Service – call your local office and those in surrounding counties (1-800-ASKUGA-1) (1-800-275-8421) and ask for their schedule.
Pike Nursery – call your local store or 770-921-1022
Most local garden centers have classes. Call to inquire.
FREE GARDENING PUBLICATIONS
Florida Extension Service Basic Landscape Design
RECOMMENDED BOOKS Mary Kay Woodworth says she recommends the following basic landscaping books:
Easy Garden Design: 12 Simple Steps to Creating Successful Gardens and Landscapes” by Janet Macuonovich
Southern Living Landscape Book edited by Steve Bender
“The Southern Living Garden Book” edited by Steve Bender
“The Landscaping Revolution : Garden With Mother Nature, Not Against Her” by Andy Wasowski
LOW COST LANDSCAPE DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
Landscape Design Classes:
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center – 404-872-5338
Atlanta Botanical Garden – 404-876-5859
FINALLY – THE WORK Once you have a budget, a plan and a schedule, follow these basic steps contributed by Theresa Schrum.
1. Fix any erosion or drainage problems.
2. Amend the soil with soil conditioner to make it internally well-drained and water holding.
3. Go slowly. Take time to properly install all landscape plants.
4. Maintain the landscape until it’s established. Even though you plan it to be drought tolerant, it will still need watering until established.
Planning your own landscape is gratifying and educational. You probably approached your first stint behind the wheel of an automobile with equal trepidation. Now though, you tool around town without a second thought. Landscaping is much the same – you run over a few curbs at first but soon you become reasonably competent and confident of your skills. With the knowledge I’ve gleaned from my colleagues you can plan your landscape with confidence too.