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Planning Your Louisiana Lanscape

When it comes to home landscaping, many gardeners remain confused about how to create what they want. Efforts at landscaping can be disappointing despite spending a substantial amount of money. The important thing to remember is that developing an attractive, properly functioning landscape is best done using a process.

You might want to consider two general gardening styles – formal and informal.

The formal style is characterized by bilateral symmetry, clipped plantings, geometrically shaped plants and beds, orderly rows of plants regularly spaced, traditional garden accents (classical statues for example), a central decorative feature such as fountain, “crisp” building materials (smooth painted wood, cut stone, brick) and everything neatly manicured. This style can be very effective but can also appear stiff, lifeless and boring. It is a style that requires relatively high maintenance.

In the informal style of landscape, plants are allowed to develop their natural forms (pruned but not regularly sheared), and they are arranged more irregularly in a way that resembles nature. The lines in the landscape and the shapes of the beds tend to be curved and flowing. There are few straight edges and no geometric shapes. Building materials are more relaxed and may even be rustic. This style of landscape design is generally less demanding when it comes to maintenance. Get a feel for what suits your taste and the style of your home, and use it.

Think about your budget. Although it would be nice to garden with unlimited funds, the available money for the project must be considered. Don’t forget that once the plan is drawn up, it can be installed in sections over time, allowing the cost to be broken up into more manageable installments. The next part details the process to develop a landscape design. These steps help you organize your thoughts and efforts so you end up with what you want and need.

Step 1. List your needs.
Think about yourself and your family, and decide what your landscape needs to include. Write the list down on paper. It might include such features as privacy, outdoor living area (patio, deck, courtyard, etc.), shade, flower beds, vegetable garden, swimming pool, greenhouse, children’s play area and storage — basically, all the things the landscape needs to provide and include. Be thorough.

Step 2. Study your site.
Become familiar with the grounds. Notice the compass directions. Which areas are shady or sunny, wet or dry? Note existing features such as trees, buildings, beds, fences, walks and the like. Draw up a simple sketch of the property showing the relevant features. Better yet, do a scale drawing. A scale drawing is much more effective when you actually start to do the design. Any inexpensive book on landscaping has directions on how to do a scale drawing. Once the drawing is done, make copies of it to draw on. You will be playing with various ideas and need copies to try those ideas out. Never draw on the original.

Step 3. Diagram space needs.
In this step you decide how much space different activities and areas will need and where in the landscape they will be located. At this time you will see how many things in your list you will actually be able to fit into the landscape. On your scale drawing copy, draw circles or ovals to indicate where and how large areas will be. For instance, circles would represent where and how large the vegetable garden would be, where the play area would be, where the patio would be and so forth. Try several arrangements until you find the best one.

Step 4. Shape the spaces.
Now, decide exactly what shape the areas will have. If you indicated flower beds with an oval to indicate where and how big they will be, at this point you decide how they will actually be shaped. Although you don’t actually select the plants at this stage, you should decide on the characteristics the plants should have (size, flowering, color, evergreen, etc). This is a creative stage. It will be guided by the previous steps as well as the style you have decided for the garden.

Step 5. Select the materials.
At this point, you select the components that will be chosen to create the landscape. If, for instance, in step 1 privacy was listed, in step 2 it was decided what view needed to be blocked, in step 3 the location of the privacy screen is determined, in step 4 the size of the screen is determined (how tall, how wide) and in this step what the screen will be composed of is decided. You may choose to plant a holly hedge or build a lattice fence or a brick wall. Go through the rough plan, selecting what plants will be used, what surfacing materials, etc. Cost is a factor that enters into which materials are selected.

Last Updated: 10/24/2012 9:36:25 AM
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