Residential Landscape Design Guide & Ideas

Residential Landscape Design Guide & Ideas

This is for informational purposes - always check with your permitted authority or regulatory body first.

A home’s landscape is a major element of its overall footprint. However, landscapes often suffer from a lack of attention or are made from lackluster designs. Because of this, many people want to spice up their home’s landscape. 

The question is, how should you approach residential landscape design? Below, you’ll find a guide to the process and also some helpful ideas. Together, these will give you the tools to get your own landscape project started!

Related: 15 Great Front Yard Landscaping Ideas

Why Is Landscape Design Important? 

Almost every residential location contains some type of landscape. So, why is it important to spend time and energy designing this landscape? 

Visual Appeal

The most obvious reason landscape design is important is to improve a location’s visual appeal. The landscape in front of a home is one of the first things people see when viewing the property. Meanwhile, the backyard contains a landscape that should work as a retreat for the homeowner. In both cases, having something that looks nice is helpful. 

Visual appeal in a landscape isn’t just about looking nice, though. Exposure to nature has been connected to stress reduction, an improvement in mood, and more benefits. So, having something beautiful and natural just outside your window may actually improve your well-being. 

Monetary Value

Since a landscape is such a prominent feature of a home, it directly relates to the home’s value. A good landscape can add 20 percent to your home’s value. However, a bad landscape can similarly hurt the value. 


A landscape is inherently about visual appeal. However, if it is designed right, it can have plenty of practical appeal as well. 

This practical appeal can be small and basic, like a shady tree providing a nice place to spend time in the heat of the summer. It can also be more elaborate, like using well-placed plants to form a visual barrier between your yard and your neighbor’s. 

Eco Friendly

A home isn’t an island; it is part of the greater ecosystem of the community around it. In this way, a home’s landscape has the potential to go green in more ways than one. 

Your home’s landscape can serve as a butterfly garden or a refuge for native plants. Plus, all plants naturally contribute to purifying the air around them.

Planning a Landscape Project

Modern house with a swimming pool

When planning a landscape, you can go with several different approaches. What you choose will depend on how much you want to do on your own. 

You can have professionals handle the entire process. In this case, they would design the entire landscape for you. Then, they would install the landscape that they designed. This option will require the least amount of work from you but will cost the most. 

If that sounds like too much, you could handle the installation on your own and have professionals exclusively work on the design. This option will cost much less, as you are significantly reducing the amount of labor you are contracting. However, it will require you to have the skills and ability to do landscaping on your own. 

Finally, you could handle everything on your own. If you create your own design and then install the design you have created, you will save the most money. However, it will require a lot of work from you. 

Designing a Landscape

No matter what approach you choose for your landscape project, it is important to understand the design process. If you have professionals working on the design, understanding the process will allow you to make suggestions and understand what they are doing. If you are working on the design yourself, you will obviously need to know how the process works in detail. 

Related: The Best Plants To Have Around Your Pool This Summer

Know the Area

Knowing the area is one of the most important elements in designing a landscape. After all, if you don’t know what you are working with, you will have trouble working on it. 

Start by taking an in-depth look at the location. Note the area’s dimensions and keep track of how much space you have to work with. In addition, make sure to make a special note of any utilities present in this area. These include power lines, gas lines, water lines, sewer systems, or anything else that may be important. To help with this, you can contact the Call Before You Dig hotline. 

Plan For Your Wants and Needs

Once you have specific details covered, you can start considering what you want and need from your landscape. 

Consider the structure of the area and what its possibilities and limitations are. Where are the entrances and exits? Where will people be walking? Which spaces will host people, and which ones will host plants? Considering all of this will give you an idea of what you are dealing with. 

Start Designing

With all this information, you can start creating the structure for your landscape. Start with pathways, hardscape, and other permanent fixtures. After this, you can move on to plants. 

Using Plants

When picking what plants to use in your landscape, the first thing to consider is what is possible. Not all plants grow in all climates, so you need to pick plants that suit your climate. In addition, make sure the plants you choose won’t outgrow your space. 

Related: Top Deck Designs You Need To Check Out

Once you have your options, you can begin arranging them. Here, you can let your artistic skills shine. Play with contrast by having large plants in the spotlight that are flanked by smaller accent plants. Or, avoid contrast by creating elegant and uniform flower beds. Ultimately, what you go with is up to you because it heavily depends on your tastes and desires.  

You can even use plants to create lines or barriers. For example, a row of flowers along a pathway looks beautiful while also making the path more prominent. 

Creating Your Residential Landscape Design

Porch with landscaped yard

Creating your residential landscape design shouldn’t be difficult. Follow the guide above, and you can help streamline the process. Doing so will put you on the right track when it comes to starting your next landscape process!



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Answers
What are the first steps to take before starting a landscape design project? Before starting a landscape design project, assess your space, identify utilities, and understand the site's specific conditions like sunlight, soil type, and existing vegetation. This preliminary assessment helps tailor the design to the environment and practical needs.
How can technology aid in residential landscape design? Technology can aid in residential landscape design through the use of landscape design software that allows homeowners or designers to visualize changes before implementing them, creating detailed plans and virtual walkthroughs.
What are common mistakes to avoid in landscape design? Common mistakes include underestimating the mature size of plants, neglecting local climate and soil conditions, and poor placement of elements like trees and shrubs that may interfere with home foundations or utility lines.
Can landscape design impact the local wildlife? Yes, landscape design can significantly impact local wildlife. Choosing native plants can support local ecosystems and attract beneficial insects and birds, while non-native or invasive species might harm the local biodiversity.
What are some cost-effective ways to enhance a landscape design? Cost-effective enhancements include using native plants which require less water and maintenance, repurposing materials for pathways or borders, and implementing gradual improvements over time to spread out costs.

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  • Ryan Crownholm