Focus on any theme you want, but it’s a good idea to have a style in mind that matches the exterior of your home. You also don’t want to include a random mixture of elements that make your yard look like an outdoor museum. A farm design can encompass fish ponds and wooden fences, while a more colonial style uses stone walls, gravel paths and fountains. Maybe a courtyard is more what you have in mind or a modern concept with stepping stones and sculptures.
Even if you can’t do all the yard work at one time, develop a plan for the entire area. Otherwise, one of your elements might be in the way of a walkway or pond you’ve decided you want later on. You want a completed project that you love and that will last for years.
Hardscape elements like a wall or patio can alter how water drains. By including permeable components, water still seeps down into the ground. Also, a very flat, level patio can quickly become a small swimming pool when it rains so you should slope the patio a little. Don’t forget to save that runoff in a rain barrel.
When drastically changing your yard, you need to prepare the site correctly. You’ll need a level surface to build upon and you should know where the freeze line is or the depth that frost penetrates the soil. Building codes say footings must be placed below this line. To get this information, talk to an inspector at your local building authority or someone at your state landscaping association.
All straight lines in a yard make it look unnatural. You want to match your landscaping to the shapes of Mother Nature so not all sidewalks and paths need to be linear. Allow some of your hardscape items to bend, sweep and arc gracefully. Ninety degree angles have no place in nature.
Frame your hardscape with shrubs and flowerbeds to balance the amount of vegetation to hard surfaces. Even a small patch of lawn can work as it’s a much safer place for kids to play than concrete. By using green rocks or gravel you tone down the transition from the hard elements to your plantings.
Those who prefer to conserve water and eliminate chemical use in their yards can opt for gravel and stone instead of a lawn. Once you’ve laid a bed of river rock, crushed granite or pea gravel, you can say goodbye to maintenance and use that time for fun activities.