13 Common Landscape Mistakes: 1. No Landscape Design

Most homeowners and quite a few professionals start a landscape project without a landscape design.  They wake up, go to the nursery and start buying plants.  The plants come home or to the job site, get unloaded into a pile and then spaced out and planted.  At first, your proud of your accomplishment.   Then, down the road, the garden isn’t working.   Planning your garden on paper gives you the opportunity to run through all the different scenarios in regards to plant spacing, plant hierarchy or layering, color combinations and bloom sequence.  A solid, well thought out plan is the most important element to a successful landscape. 

A landscape plan doesn’t have to be a highly detailed drawing but it does have to be put on paper.  As you create your plan on paper first, a lot of ideas and problems will present themselves as you logically think through what you thought you wanted.  A plan will also force you to figure out your planting plan which will be a challenge in itself.  As you are laying out your plants, I suggest color coding you flowering plants and plants with interesting foliage.  The color of markers you use aren’t important.  What is important is that you are consistent with your colors throughout the design process.  If you are new to gardening or design, one way to lay out a plan is to color code the plants that are going into the landscape design.  For each color,  choose three similar colors in different shades. For instance, a plant that has a yellow flower in early spring would be labeled with a light yellow marker or colored pencil, you would use a medium yellow color for a summer flowering plant and a dark yellow colored marker or pencil for a fall flowering yellow plant.  You can go through this process with all the plants, flower colors and season of interest.  This will quickly show issues with bloom sequence throughout the garden season or mismatched color combinations. The goal is to chose plants that work well together and extend the season as long as possible.  There is nothing worse than having to wait 11 months for you garden to look great.  By going through the landscape design process you minimize your mistakes and maximize your success.  To see more landscape designs, please visit our website at www.DesigningEden.com. Good luck!

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Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


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