You want a home landscape you can be proud of.
But you also don’t want to sacrifice your vision or break the bank hiring a professional landscaper planner or designer to give it the facelift it needs to shine.
What if we told you that you could make your own plan— allowing you bring your own vision to life?
You don’t need an expensive computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) program or be a fancy artist to create a robust, helpful landscape design.
You can produce a unique landscape plan in just five easy steps:
Step 1. Draw Out a Basic Grid of “Fixed” Elements, To Scale
This step might actually take the most work, because it involves you going out and getting up-close and personal with your current space.
Grab a long tape measure, a pencil and some paper. You’ll need to make note of some dimensions including your property lines, distance between and around permanent objects and more.
Measure the dimensions of your house, pool, patio, gardens, spreads of shrubs and fences. Consider what elements you can’t easily change and have to work around, like your driveway, as well as elements you could modify, such as uprooting a small tree to relocate.
You can either immediately put these measurements on graph paper or simply jot down the numbers and sketch them out after.
Remember, this first initial outline gives you an accurate idea of the space you have to work with, your limitations and your opportunities for change.
This rough outline of your property doesn’t have to be artistic, but it should be something you can use as your overall skeleton.
After the next step, you’ll be making copies of this to sketch a few designs over your yard’s basic foundation.
Step 2. Create a Vision Board
Before you go crazy with your sketching pencil, it helps to prepare. In fact, when it comes to landscape design planning— proper preparation is key.
Maybe you’ve ripped out some pages from your favorite design catalog or you have a Pinterest board dedicated to your landscape ideas. Wherever these visuals are hiding, bring them front and center.
Go out and buy construction paper or a cork board and start pinning your ideas, creating a collective force of all things landscaping.
Seeing everything in one spot will help you conceptualize what elements compliment each other, and which ones just don’t fit the mold.
Keep this board in a place that you see every day while working on your plan; it’ll motivate you to stick to your vision.
Step 3. Sketch a Few Variations
Now that you have an idea where your current yard is and where you see it going, you can begin to doodle up your spunkiest ideas.
Scan and print off multiple versions of the grid you made in Step 1 or use tracing paper to make a few copies to draw on.
The right landscape plan will likely not be born with one sketch, rather, it’ll evolve as you compare a few drafts and compile a balanced concept.
Also, don't overlook practical details like your irrigation system or where you’re plugging in lights, pumps, etc, or the amount of maintenance your vision would require.
Consider what you could do to ease this burden. Could you get solar lights? How could you hide unsightly wires?
It’s important to also consider curb appeal and simple ways you could increase the value of your home. Actually, we have a helpful guide for adding symmetry to your design, the right plants for your particular landscape and more in our Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal.
Step 4. Now— Get Specific
Once you land on a solid “final” layout, see how it stands up to a reality check.
Add very specific elements, down to the exact species of bush that’ll go next to your garden or the type of flowers to complement your New England style home.
Although we do recommend you get picky about what you’ll include in your space, don’t get caught up drawing magnificent replicas of your bird bath or patio set. Instead, use consistent symbols to represent plants, hardscape materials, trees and architectural features.
Maybe your shrubs are depicted as circles while your garden spaces are squares outlined with a thick rim. Lay out a rainbow of colored pencils and add pops of color to help give the drawing some life and help distinguish your shapes as well.
Create an index on the side of your landscape design plan to explain what your shapes and colors symbolize.
Again, try to keep things to scale, but don’t agonize over a few centimeters or ticks on your ruler. As long as you understand with relative accuracy what you have space for and what you don’t, you’ll be fine.
Step 5. Finalize & Set a Timeline
Step away from your final sketch for a few days and then return to it with a fresh set of eyes.
Does it still live up to your expectations? Is it practical around your budget? Will it be easy to maintain?
Once you have the plan in your hands, it’s time to get crackin’.
Maybe after you draft everything up, you realize you need some help from a landscape designer or a construction crew to bring your vision to life. Make sure you consider these things to help you pick the right designer and coordinate with them right away, to avoid delayed completion.
Make Sure You Know What Goes Into Maintaining Your Landscape!
Before you get rollin’, ensure you have a full understanding of the work that’ll go into creating your outdoor escape, as well as maintaining it!
Download your Massachusetts Home Landscape 12-Month Calendar to get idea of what your property needs to stay healthy all year long to help you conceptualize your final landscape plan.