Great exterior design can add serious value to any piece of property, but it can seem like an insurmountable challenge for someone without landscaping experience. The truth is that a few basic updates can make a huge difference, so rather than feeling disheartened at the sight of your backyard or racing to call in a professional, start with a few simple DIY improvements.
Get to know the lay of the land
Before you commit to any drastic changes, you’ll want to have a thorough understanding of your space. You would be wise to spend some extra time outside because doing enough of this will point out to you the most habitable spots at your disposal. Identifying the sun-kissed spaces and the movement of the wind is a great way to begin, and you’ll quickly discover what is needed to make those spots more inviting, whether that’s a shade cloth or a few outdoor heaters. The sun will also tell you a lot about which plants will be most suited to life in your backyard, so don’t skip the research stage.
Take care of your grass
Although you may not have given it much thought until now, grass makes up a fairly significant component of most home landscapes, and treating it well can make a huge difference to the overall appeal of your property. Of course, unlike other plants, grass also requires mowing, and doing it correctly is crucial to the health of your lawn. The frequency of mowing will depend on weather conditions and on the growth rate of your grass, but as a general rule, you should never remove more than one-third of the grass length, and avoid cutting wet grass at all costs.
Assess your needs
Your garden should cater to your personal requirements, so consider these before making grand plans. Those whose gardens regularly host children or pets should give extra thought to plant selection and safety precautions like fences, whereas those without, need only consider how much time and effort they would be willing to devote to garden maintenance.
Complement the style of your home
Your home is styled to suit your own aesthetic preferences, and when you’re able to create a sense of continuity with your garden, it will only add to the appeal of your property. Consider whether you would describe the style of your home is formal or informal, and continue that theme into the exterior. A formal garden typically features symmetry and elegant focal points like pruned hedges and water features, whereas a natural style tends to reflect nature and gel with the surroundings.
Create focal points
Great design is all about drawing the eye towards central features, so consider the dominant elements of your landscape already in play. If nothing jumps out yet, you can easily create something that draws the eye – it might even be something as simple as an eye-catching plant or tree – or you can go one better and take advantage of the views that already exist beyond the boundaries of your property. Perhaps you can see the city skyline or the glimmer of the ocean from a certain spot in your yard, and if that’s the case, it’s worth framing.
Invest in what you love
You might already have particular plants in mind with which to fill all the empty spaces in your garden, and that’s great, but it’s also helpful to have a plan. It could be helpful to sketch out your space so that you know where each plant will fit in, or keep a basic list of potential purchases.
Plan the space around whatever you consider a must-have, and the practical additions will follow suit; for example, if your hydrangeas are a prized possession, you can protect them from most common pests like aphids by planting marigolds or catnip in close proximity.
Don’t be afraid of change
Like your home, your garden is likely to evolve over time along with your needs, desires, and usage patterns. Nothing is permanent, so don’t be too concerned about making what you might perceive as design mistakes in the early stages. You can always replant, reposition, or replan the garden in its entirety if you end up with something you don’t like.
Landscaping is all about personal preference, which is why it shouldn’t be a daunting task so much as a process of self-expression. Enjoy the journey of creating a space you love just as much as your interior, and you’ll appreciate the results that much more.