Go ahead and achieve your own dream landscaping project – it’s really not that hard. You might surprise yourself: creating a well-landscaped backyard can be a wonderful way to unlock your personal creativity.
The secret behind every beautiful garden is the thought and preparation invested in it. Long before you plant your first shrub, you need to look carefully at your property. Then you can determine your needs and make a plan.
For help, download our planning Guide "Carry out an outdoor design project" available in PDF format.
Understand your terrain and soil
Time to observe and take notes! Start by assessing what you'll be working with:
- Where are the sunny locations and shaded areas?
- What kind of soil do you have?
- Are there areas exposed to wind?
- What is the hardiness zone?
- Is there a lack of privacy in the yard?
- Are there views you'd like to enhance?
- Does water tend to collect in certain areas?
This is valuable information you can use to correct imperfections and designate specific areas of the yard.
Determine your needs and set your goals
Everybody is different, so there are as many different ways to design a landscaping project as there are people. Some of us simply want to create a perfect oasis to relax in. Others opt for a trendy outdoor decor to host evenings with friends. Young families prioritize safe zones where their kids can play without worry.
List all the elements you want to include, such as a
- garden shed
- deck or patio
- pool or spa
- play area for the kids
- vegetable garden
- barbecue area
Using the information you have collected, you can now determine the best location for each landscape element in accordance with your needs. For example, it would be best to locate the vegetable garden or pool in the sunniest part of the yard. The children's play area must be located where sight lines are clear to enable proper supervision. Use a little cunning when it comes to the garden shed; pick a location where it can block off your neighbors and be accessible at the same time.
Sharpen your pencil!
Go to your local Municipal Offices to obtain your Certificate of Location, or ask a land surveyor; it will clearly show your property lines and locate your house and driveway to scale. Make a few photocopies, which you can use to pencil in different landscape and design ideas. Note: you must verify the location of all easements and be certain of all applicable municipal by-laws before you start digging! It's a heck of a lot easier to erase a line, and pencil in another design, than to relocate a pool or flower bed.
Go to the BOTANIX website where you'll find great articles to help you with plant selection. Pay careful attention to the sunlight requirements of the plants you select:
- Less than 4 hours sunlight per day = shade
- Between 4 and 6 hours sunlight per day = partial shade
- More than 6 hours sunlight per day = full sun
First: install the stationary elements such as the pool, garden shed, or fences. You can add a screen on the patio to block off your neighbor's yard, or install pavers around the pool - perfect for some new outdoor furniture!
Next: planting, starting with trees, then shrubs and perennials. Leave some space for annuals and a few decorative containers!
Low-maintenance gardens are very doable, though you'll have to set aside a few hours per week to care for your vegetable garden and flowerbeds. Maximize the benefits and take this time to unplug from the stress of daily life. Relax and enjoy an outdoor environment you have created yourself!