Fundamentals of Landscaping for First-Timers Fundamentals of Landscaping for First-Timers

Whether you're contemplating landscape projects around your home to increase property value or simply so that you can enjoy a more beautiful backyard environment, the task can seem daunting in the beginning. You might look at a well-conceived and realized landscape the same way you would a masterful painting, wondering how the artist ever got to the finished result.

How an artist arrives at that beautiful painting is by combining some elements of technique with his or her intuitive sense of what would be in proper balance and pleasing proportion upon the canvas. With a little knowledge and a similar vision, you can create wonders with your backyard canvasses, too. But instead of watercolors, acrylics and oils, you'll be using trees, shrubs, flowers, garden plants and maybe even water for your mediums.

It's helpful to map out your vision in the beginning. Initially, you can dream with abandon, and then gradually pare your conception down to what's feasible. What you want to be conscious of always as you're planning, is harmony and proportion - i.e., how well all the basic parts of your landscape will complement each other.

With each element you wish to introduce, you should consider its scale. This basically means how much space it will take up in relation to the landscape as a whole. Too much repetition can create monotony. When planning the placement or growth of various kinds of fauna, consider how much might end up dominating the landscape to its detriment.

Also think about colors and textures - not only how pleasing certain colors and textures are in themselves, but also how well one transitions into another over the landscape as a whole. Abrupt changes can be jarring to the eye. You want to create smooth visual flow between every group of trees, shrubbery, and smaller plants. This principle also applies to the plants' overall forms. Are they droopy, or upright and stiff? Do their branching patterns more closely resemble pillars or globes? The overall structure of flora affects how they will look alongside other growing things.

Lastly, when planning your imminent landscape project, consider the overall view, the line of sight from the yard. Stand outside and try to envision how the future landscape will look, both horizontally and vertically; also from both the top and bottom, especially if the yard is on a slope.

Visualizing and drawing out your landscape projects beforehand will allow you to proceed on to planting with confidence. When you've settled upon what trees, shrubbery and plants appeal to us in themselves and also transition smoothly from one to another, you will have taken a large step toward making the ideal image in your mind a reality in your yard.

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