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How to Create a Landscape Plan

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The beautiful landscapes you see in home and garden magazines are attainable, but they don’t just occur by chance. Landscapers don’t just add trees, plants, and walkways at random; they carefully plan everything to make sure that they get the most out of the space they’re working with.

If you’ve been dreaming of making big changes to your backyard, the first thing you need to do is create a landscape plan. This plan should include:

  • Your house
  • Property boundaries
  • Existing plants and outdoor structures, such as a pool or patio
  • Outdoor utilities
  • Existing irrigation systems
  • Slopes/drainage areas

Your landscape plan will provide a great visual tool to determine where your new additions will lie in relation to existing structures. By carefully sketching out your landscaping ideas on your plan, you can ensure that you combine form and function in the best possible way for your home. Here are a few things to do to create a landscape plan that works for your project.

Determine the goal of your project. Are you hoping to add value to your home? Wanting to create a play area for your kids? Interested in adding trees to create a wind break? In many cases, you’ll probably have multiple goals for your landscaping project. By sitting down and articulating what you actually want to do, you’ll be able to start figuring out what changes to make.

Order a detailed site plan. Drawing your own landscape plan can be tricky and time-consuming—plus there’s a lot of room for error. In order to expedite the process and ensure that the plan is accurate, order a detailed plan that includes the landscape, trees, swimming pools, driveways, structures, and pathways. MySitePlan creates this type of plan using satellite imagery in combination with county parcel maps, allowing them to get your landscape plan to you within 2-3 business days.

Use tracing paper to sketch out ideas. Rather than drawing directly on your site plan, use tracing paper that you can place over the plan to sketch out the changes you’re interested in making. You may want to sketch out several different versions and allow your family to draw their own versions in order to do a comparison.

Keep logistics in mind. Before you finalize your landscaping plan, go over some of the logistics. For example, a willow tree that you plant now is going to be significantly larger in 20 years—is your yard large enough? If you’re adding a structure like a swimming pool, do you have the required permits to start construction? If your landscaping project does require construction, you’ll need to take a clean copy of your site plan to your city government to get a building permit.

Landscaping can be an incredibly rewarding experience… as long as you take the time to plan everything out ahead of time. Make sure that you’ve put some thought into your project and looked closely at your landscape plan so that you don’t have any unpleasant surprises when you start making changes.

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  • Ryan Crownholm
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