By Hope Good

Ready to spruce up your yard? A lot of thought and preparation is needed for the finished result to have the desired effect. Some considerations include space available, cost, and time. Working with professionals can make things go a lot smoother. Horticultural specialists at your local nurseries are committed to enhancing the environment and can help to make the right choices of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants that will thrive in local climates. Steve from Tilleraas Landscape Nursery suggests the following steps to create the yard of your dreams.

Remember, landscaping is about more than just plants.

Consider the style of home and yard symmetry. Look at lighting, fencing, sidewalks. Where should the focal point be?

Start with a plot plan. Time and money can be saved by drawing an outline of your property before you start buying landscape materials. Take pictures, dimensions, and orientation (direction the yard faces) to the nursery so the experts can help you make better decisions on what will work. This process is a vital part of your landscaping plan. Consider where you want open lawn, shade, open space, sun, open views, screening for privacy, driveways, fences or walls, gates, playground equipment, etc.

Decide on your particular needs and wants. How much time will you spend in the garden? Do you have kids, pets? What about parking areas?

Divide your space into public, private, and utility areas. Keep the public area easy to maintain.

Keep “features” close to living areas so they can be enjoyed.

Analyze soil and drainage. This is very important and often disregarded. It should actually be looked into before purchasing a property.

Consider hardscape items such as pagodas, arbors, trellises, ponds, and boulders.

Design elements to achieve harmony. Asymmetrical designs tend to look more natural. Trying to achieve symmetry can sometimes be hard to maintain, as plants and flowers may die and need replacement.

Follow the seven principles of design:

1 Unity – Creating unity throughout your outdoor and indoor living areas is one of the most important aspects in creating a professional appearance in a custom landscape design.
2 Repetition – Create simple patterns using color and texture that can bring a sense of relaxation and tranquility. Be careful, though, as too much can lead to discord and monotony.
3 Continuity and Simplicity – Reduce variety to create simplicity.
4 Focalization – Lines, shapes, and forms are used to direct attention to specific focal points in the landscape.
5 Balance – Creating balance works with the other principles in maintaining a uniform appearance that is pleasing to the senses.
6 Proportion – Closely related to scale, this is one of the basics of landscape design that requires special attention.
7 Transition – The flow of the design and all components is important.

Five Key Elements

1 Scale – Plants and trees should be selected appropriately to the scale of the landscape surroundings.
2 Form – Make sure the form and physical attributes of the various plants generate natural patterns that are appealing to your space.
3 Color – Bring your entire yard together by creating an array of colors that make complementary patterns.
4 Texture – Various textures of leaves, petals, and stems can add more detail.
5 Line – Geometric patterns can direct attention and highlight special aspects of your space.


  • ALWAYS remember to call your local utility authority to mark lines before digging.
  • Think long-term. If you don’t have the time or money right now to complete your whole yard, consult your nursery professionals to put together a piece- by-piece improvement list.
  • You can work on it a little at a time from year to year.
  • The value of your home can be improved up to 10% with good landscaping.
  • Choose the right plant for the right place. Do you want a tree for shade or for an ornament.
  • Soil is the foundation of any landscape. Your nursery can advise you about maintaining good soil for your plants to thrive.
  • Garden centers are busy on weekends, so consider visiting during the week to avoid the crowd and receive more individual attention from nursery professionals.
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