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Planning an outdoor project

With good planning and by following a few basic rules, it can be an easy and agreeable exercise.

Planning your outdoor project will give you the chance to let your imagination run free. It's important to consider your house's architectural style, as the yard and the house are considered to be a single entity. For help, download our planning Guide "Carry out an outdoor design project" available in PDF format.

Important points

Here are a few items to check before starting your plan:

  • Have a building location survey nearby.
  • Inquire about municipal rules for certain specific installations.
  • Determine your hardiness zone.
  • Identify the prevailing wind direction.
  • Check sunlight exposure (at different times of day).
  • Find the north.
  • Have the soil analyzed to determine its composition.
  • Are there undesirable views as opposed to views you would like to enhance?
  • Do your neighbours'windows and balconies offer a view onto your yard?

Identify your needs

Establishing a list of your needs will allow you to take everyone's tastes into account and fully profit from your environment. What are you seeking from your outdoor landscaping? What is the main purpose of the landscaping: relaxation, play, swimming, etc? With proper planning and by following the ensuing points, it will be easy to prepare your own landscaping plan.

Drawing plans

Make a complete list of the structures and fixed elements such as paths, the shed, the swimming pool, as well as indicating their dimensions. Play around with their positions on the plan. Don't be satisfied with the first design; leave room for changes and for your imagination. Never forget, correcting a landscaping error is easier on paper than in the yard.

Before drawing the lines of the planting beds, gather ideas from various magazines or horticultural manuals. You'll find numerous suggestions for shapes and dimensions.

Choosing your plants

When choosing your plants, it is important to respect the plants'sunlight and maintenance requirements. If a parcel of your yard receives less than two hours of sunlight per day, you should use shade plants; on the other hand, if the parcel of the yard receives four to six hours, use semi-shade plants. If the sun is present for more than six hours, use sunlight plants.


A successful landscaping project takes place over a few years.

  • Divide the job into phases that will allow for changes throughout the project.
  • Be aware of your financial capacities and the time you can afford to spend on the project.
  • Establish a realistic schedule; this way, your landscaping won't become a chore in lieu of a source of pleasure.

For big jobs like paving, electricity and irrigation, get professional help.

All jobs that require heavy machinery should be done first (swimming pool, parking, main entrance, pond).