Congratulations on your new landscaping endeavor! Landscape design offers a chance to let your imagination run wild. Landscape design ideas can run a spectrum from smaller projects like tweaking a teeming space with landscape rocks or some patio pavers, to a larger endeavor like lawn edging or retaining walls – or even a complete overhaul of bare land thirsty for whole vista of garden flowers and plants growing in harmony as a result of your vision. No matter the intensity of your landscape ideas, it is strongly advised that your project stem from your initial dream…then you can watch it unfurl from your mind’s eye into a real work of beauty.
Here is a potpourri of 25 landscape and garden ideas for making the most of springtime:
1. With your eyes closed, envision an untouched lot around or beside a new home. See it as a bird might from above, and with a magnifying glass! In other words, get to know the piece of land you are working with, and know it well so you can really open up to some fabulous, maybe even outlandish landscape ideas.
2. Play with your landscape design ideas on paper. Work with entirely different concepts and watch them mesh as you sketch. Shortly, you’ll be equipped with the most important of landscaping tools: your blueprint, or a map you can refer to as you put your dream into action.
3. Walk around your yard and clear away trash, sticks and debris that may have fallen during the winter. Use a lawn blower to get rid of leaves entangled in flowerbeds, check outdoor spigots, sprinklers and hoses, and take an inventory of your landscaping tools to replenish your supply as needed.
4. Mosquitoes can substantially impede you landscape design, especially when you are outside in the garden. While you cannot ward off these pests entirely, you can decrease their breeding around your home. Seek out areas and get rid of standing water, like pools that form after early-spring deluges. Buckets, empty plastic pots, uneven lawn areas, rain gutters and birdbaths are typically where water accumulates.
5. Springtime spawns thoughts of new patio ideas – don’t be shy to let these ideas grow into plans for a full blown gazebo or pergola. A pergola is not only an exquisite outdoor meditative sacred spot for you and your family, but also a shady source to keep you and your flowers safe from too much of the blazing summer sun.
6. Keeping crabgrass from invading your landscape is best attempted in the first week of May. Crabgrass killers are aptly called “pre-emergents”, as they prevent plants from germinating directly from the seed (corn gluten is a decent alternative to chemical agents). If you miss that early May window, you can use a post-emergent – but if there is an abundance of flowers blooming at that point, make sure you know what crabgrass looks like so you don’t ambush the wrong bush!
7. For incorporating a rock waterfall in your setting, try to keep nature in mind as you design. Include twists and turns in your water element – and integrate both small landscape rocks and larger boulder sizes, as would be seen in a natural stream setting.
8. Over time, old pots can accumulate dirt and salt deposits. Instead of chucking them, try combining equal parts water, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray the pots, wait five minutes and then scrub it off with a plastic brush – your pots will look just about new and pepper your landscape with a replenished yet nostalgic touch.
9. To prevent dirt from working itself beneath your fingernails as you garden, try first drawing your fingernails across a bar of soap and creating an impenetrable seal before you dig them into hat fresh earth. Use a nailbrush to clean your hands afterward, et voila… you’ll find no dirt to dig out from beneath your nails.
10. Use the water you would normally drain out and discard after boiling veggies to pour into the soil of your potted plants or flowers. You’ll be pleased to find how much your foliage responds to the “soup of the day.”
11. Leftover tea and coffee grounds can increase the acidity of your soil. This method works particularly for rhododendrons, gardenias, and hydrangeas (by playing around the with soil’s acidity levels, you can actually alter the colors of your hydrangeas). A light monthly sprinkle (maybe a ¼” thin) can keep the soil’s Ph level just acidic enough for your garden flowers to thrive.
12. For super-tight budgets, the smallest details can make a difference like trimming hedges, planting a few seasonal plants or flowers, adding accessories like garden statues re-touching a fence with a fresh coat of paint or adding some low voltage landscape lighting. These “minor” enhancements can work just as well to improve your landscape as can some of the most outrageous garden ideas.
13. Turning your garden ideas into reality on your own is certainly thrilling. But make sure you goal is something you can complete successfully on your own. If you lack the time or proper tools, don’t shy away from hiring a landscape designer and/or other professional(s) who can tackle the job. Not only will this offer you some assistance, but you may learn a lot from a seasoned outdoor artist for your next go around- or to help a neighbor with their own escapade!
14. Mulch is inclined to get displaced and decompose over time. Topdressing is the best way to fix this: just rake up the old mulch to disperse it evenly over beds, and then apply about a 3” layer of new mulch to prepare your land for new growth.
15. Pool landscaping with trees comes with some caveats: Trees with a wide crown are a no-no since they create unwelcoming dampness, not to mention leaves falling into your pool. Also, trees with large root systems may harm the walls of your pool. The solution: plant trees no less than two meters from the pool and stray from those that attract flies and bees. (See more ideas for designing around your pool below).
16. Fragrant flowers are probably the most popular element when it comes to landscaping. While there are plenty to choose from, some of the most conducive to a spring landscape are lilacs, Korean spice viburnum, Daphne plants, peonies, bearded irises, lily-of-the-valley and English lavender.
17. If your lawn is not top-notch for growing the mystical panorama you are shooting for just yet, you could opt for a clover lawn. Not only is clover a superb substitute for grass since it can grow on bad soil, it actually can improve your lawn because it acts like a fertilizer by dispersing Nitrogen throughout soil and aerating it. The best part is, it requires little maintenance requiring little water and no mowing! (You may want to occasionally cut the heads off of the clover if it begins to attract too many honeybees).
18. Another low-maintenance alternative is a meadow. Simply choose a seed mixture of meadow grasses and watch as your lawn turns into a charming, fairy-tale type of vista around your home. The upkeep requires only a bit of raking and mowing here and there.
19. If you are in the market for some lawn edging, your options are virtually endless depending on the look you are going for and the type of terrain on which you are applying it. One option, concrete edging, is a good choice as it minimizes mowing and allows you to create a serpentine path throughout your landscape. You can even play around with different heights to add contrast and texture, and to creates a smooth transition along a sloped or uneven piece of land.
20. Solar lighting – Implementing solar landscape lighting is an easy, and beautiful way to add a dramatic feel to your landscape. Enhancing your garden with this simple improvement is just that: simple – and you don’t need to be an electrician to do it. This embellishment, which can be installed along walkways, driveways, paved paths or steps leading to your front door, can have a major impact on how your home appears after nightfall while adding some safety and security as well. You can even spruce it up by having the light shine up at trees, walls or fences.
21. Retaining walls are versatile in both the structural support they provide as well as the aesthetic boost they offer in helping you accomplish your vision. There are several types of structures based on the environment and purpose of the wall:
- Garden Wall: A garden wall is typically 2’ to 2.5’ tall or less. These smaller walls are usually used to provide support to smaller areas like flower beds and gardens, while giving your landscape an ideal aesthetic feel. They could also be used to enhance the end of an open-ended patio – giving it closure and beauty. These types of walls can be an interlocking, have pin connection, be gravity stacked, or mortared (depending on your support requirements).
- Retaining Wall: These types of walls are usually less than 4’ tall or less. They are built to retain soil, in order to create a level area for a patio or a lawn. Retaining wall blocks typically have an interlocking or pin connection, and they are manufactured to withstand water and freeze/thaw exposure.
- Engineered and/or Tall Retaining Wall: These types of walls are usually used in commercial settings or walls over 4’; but Residential applications include driveways or large changes in lawn elevation. Like regular retaining walls, they use interlocking or pin connections, but they may also require soil reinforcing (like geogrid). Because of the load-bearing requirements of this type of wall, hiring a licensed geotechnical engineer may be suggested.
Using masonry materials will not only add the decorative touch you are looking for, but will save you more work, time, and energy in the long run.
22. When it comes to pool landscaping and patio ideas, there are tons of elements to explore:
- Patios assist in decreasing water drainage and keeping grass and mulch out of the pool. Pool deck surfaces offer you a chance to get that imagination churning when it comes to choosing bricks, pavers and concrete that comes in different colors, shapes, sizes and textures.
- In additional to the aesthetic flair they provide, fences are a safety MUST for pool proprietors. For chiefly security reasons, 4’ wide-slat or wrought iron fencing is best. For appeal, you may be drawn to a slightly higher fencing (maybe 6’) with ornamental touches like capped pillars, curved fences or lattice.
- Plants may be the most fun to choose and easiest to reflect your personality. The only difficulty here is having to choose from the massive, amazing collection there is out there. Remember: pools are already a pain in the neck to care for, so choose low maintenance but hardy foliage like evergreen shrubs and perennial shrubs so you can spend more time working on your cannonball splash than tending to your plants.
23. The colors you choose for your landscape can transform the aura of your entire garden – and your home, too. So don’t rush when choosing your color scheme; in the end you’ll be glad you took the extra time. Here’s a short guide to help:
- Monochromatic (one color, different shades) themes are fine but can become boring. To keep it more exciting, blend plants of different sizes and textures.
- A complementary color scheme (two colors opposite on the color wheel) is another beautiful choice. For example you can use one splashy color like blue and then add in red roses or bright green foliage throughout to contrast.
- An analogous color scheme (three neighboring colors) is the most popular choice among landscape designers, and yellow, orange and red are the three most popular shades chosen.
You needn’t implement any of these schemes in your work; again, there is so much to choose from. If you feel overwhelmed, surf the net for more ideas or seek out professional consultation.
24. Movement within a landscape may be the most appealing feature you can add to your vista. Creatures like butterflies and hummingbirds add a splash of intermittent color here and there; they also add another dimension to an already breathtaking panorama. While butterfly-attracting foliage can vary from region to region throughout the U.S., some fundamental butterfly-seducers are aster, butterfly bush, lilac, globe thistle, zinnia, mint, dill, pansy and milkweed.
Keeping in mind that red and orange shades are most favored by hummingbirds, some welcoming plants to try are: larkspur, columbine, foxglove lily, butterfly bush, verbena, red-hot poker and scarlet trumpet honeysuckle.
25. Allow us to arrive full-circle here as we return to the advisement that your garden vision-turned-“blueprint” is the #1 priority for your spring landscape. Without a solid plan, you risk planting a vista that is not only haphazard and less attractive, but a real bother to take care of. If you need help getting your wheels turning and developing your “map”, a great suggestion is to invest in some landscaping software. A good application can provide you with:
- Deck landscape patio and garden templates and/or samples
- Video tutorials, paper manuals, and phone and email support
- Topography and fence designing applications
- Plant and flower encyclopedias
- The ability to import and export images, and manipulate them to fit your desire
- Shopping lists
- Cost estimations
Again, kudos on your decision to undergo what may be one of the most challenging, yet exhilarating adventures you may experience this spring/summer! Without shying from even your wildest ideas or straying from what you think may be “impossible”, develop a solid draft of your dream. Research ideas, seek professional design help if needed, and most of all, have patience. After all, you are creating something for you and your family to look at and receive pleasure from for years…so taking the time to work on even the smallest details will have a major, long-lasting effect.
Good luck to you and your beautiful blessed landscape.