7 Helpful Tips For Your DIY Landscaping Project

Get started on your landscaping project with these 7 easy steps


What does your dream backyard look like? Leaf through magazines and websites such as Pinterest to get ideas flowing. Make a list of things you want in the landscape and things you need. Do you want a fireplace, a water feature, or a pergola? Examples of needs would be shade, wind block, and drainage solutions. Who will be using this space? Do you need an area for kids to play, or an area for entertaining guests? Jot down your favorite colors and plants. And finally, draw up a rough sketch of your ideas to get them out of your head and onto paper. Have fun and get creative with this. Now is the time to get as elaborate as you want.

2. Observe

Go outside at different times of the day and watch what happens in the area that you are planning on landscaping. Watch how the sun moves through the space. Are there any areas that get full sun all day, or any areas that get no sun at all? What time of day does the wind pick up? Think about if a wind block will be needed in any areas. Do some listening as well. Check to hear if there is a time of day when your neighbors are loud, or if you live near a school or businesses, is there a time of day when noise levels increase? Does this bother you? If so, you may want to think about installing a type of noise barrier, such as a wall or a hedge. What happens when it rains? If you have a problem with water pooling up or with erosion, you will want to think about how your landscaping can help solve this. Look at your yard and see if there are any areas where you could see yourself sitting and relaxing. Now go back to your sketch pad and see if you need to change anything around.

3. Pick a style

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There are a lot of different landscaping styles to choose from such as Mediterranean, country, modern, traditional, and tropical. And there are sub categories within those styles. For example in a country style there is farmhouse, Victorian, ranch, and rustic. To create unity in your landscape it’s best to pick one style and stick to it. Make sure the style you choose will work in your region. You may be drawn to a tropical style, but in North SLO county there aren’t a lot of tropical looking plants to choose from that will grow well in this climate. When picking a style, it is good to look at the architectural style of your house and try to design a landscape that matches that. For example if you live in a modern style house, a cottage garden may seem out of place.

4.Make a plan

Landscaping a space can take a lot of time, hard work, and money, so it’s great to break it up into smaller pieces. The only problem with this is that your finished project may end up looking like a hodge podge if you don’t have an overall plan. At this point you may have drawn up a couple of sketches, but now it’s time to take those rough sketches and draw out some final plans. Measure all of the spaces, and draw plans to scale. Your plans don’t need to be perfect, and nobody has to see them but yourself. They are just a tool to help you envision the finished project. Having an overall plan is a very important step and will ensure continuity in your landscape.

5. Make a materials list

Once you are happy with your plans, write down all of the materials you will need for the project. How much flagstone will your patio require? Are you using DG for the walkway, and if so, how much? How many yards of mulch will you need to lay around the plants? You get the idea. It’s an obvious step that is oftentimes forgotten. Many people get excited about their idea, go to the store, buy stuff, get home and they don’t have the right amount of materials needed for the job. It’s nice to do it once and do it right.

6. Get to work!

Now is where the hard work comes in and where all of your planning will pay off. Hopefully a neighbor or two can help you and hopefully it’s not too hot out! One thing to remember is to always plant last. When doing a landscaping project, people tend to get excited about seeing what the plants will look like. But installing the plants first is like painting a wall before you’ve built it. Lay out the area first, install your hardscapes and your water features and then once everything is in place, plant your plants. This will help you get the spacing right, and the plants will be happy to only be transplanted once from pot to ground and not moved again.

7. Enjoy!

In the middle of your hard work when your sweating and tired you might be asking yourself how you got yourself into this mess, but I guarantee once you are all done it will be worth it. There’s nothing like sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Invite some friends over, sip some iced tea with a beautiful view of your newly landscaped yard, and let the compliments roll in!