Your garden might be the furthest thing from your mind in winter,
but itís the perfect time to think about it. Without foliage, a
gardenís structure (or lack thereof) is visible. When youíre not
worrying about watering, planting and weeding, you can focus on the
components and overall design.
Like your homeís interior, gardens are spaces created to suit
the tastes and needs of you and your loved ones. If your garden
does not do that, itís time for a change. Take a long look: The
first step is to grab a pad of paper and get ready to embark on
some garden soul-searching. Over the coming weeks, take a good
long look at your property. Look out your windows. What do you
see? Does it please you?
Assortment of fall Mums
Go outside & tromp around
What do you see when you collect the mail, take out the trash,
take your kids to the bus or walk the dog? With fresh eyes,
envision what people see as they pass your house or walk to your
Do you like what you see, or is it lacking? Why?
Take your time looking, and think about what you see. Be sure to
jot down your thoughts.
Use it or lose it!
The next step is important: Assess how you use ó or want to use
ó your outdoor spaces. If your garden suits your needs, you will
be more inclined to use it. Again, that pad of paper comes in
handy as you answer questions such as:
children or pets need outdoor play space?
Do you want to
Do you enjoy cooking outdoors?
Do you want
to grow edibles?
Do you intend to play lawn games like
badminton, bocce or croquet, or is having a relaxing oasis more
Itís critical to note the physical attributes of
the property in your notebook, too. How much sun do various
parts receive? Are there any areas where water ponds after a
rain? Are there other drainage problems? Making simple sketches
helps record these important points, or you can draw on a copy
of the survey you received when you bought your home. Show all
structures ó house, garage, shed, playhouse, pool, driveway,
vegetable beds, septic system, utility lines, etc.
Take your survey copy and lay tracing paper over it.
Using different colored pens or markers, draw lines that
represent where you drive and park your car, where your pets
and/or children play, the path you take to pick up your mail,
how visitors travel to your front door, and other pathways that
might occur on your property. This exercise can reveal faults,
eyesores and difficult access paths in a landscape.
Note the style of your house and garden styles
you like (cottage, formal, modern, etc.). This is the time to
dream and have fun. Websites like Pinterest are great for
helping you find the styles, colors and details you like.
Magazines and books are great resources too, as well as real
gardens you may have visited. Keep track of things you like to
help guide your new garden space, either scrapbook-style or
Taken together, your notes and sketches synthesize the facts
about your landscape as well as your thoughts, desires and needs
for it. Use these materials to come up with a list of changes ó
pathways that need to be added, removed or changed; eyesores
that need to be screened; spaces that need to be created; or
more pleasing views that need to be established.
You can begin to work on these changes yourself or with the help
of a professional. If you have drainage problems or need to move
a large amount of earth, itís best to consult with a landscape
architect or engineer. Most garden designers have a high level
of horticulture expertise and are a good choice to help you
American Society of Landscape Architects,
of Professional Landscape Designers.
Xeriscaping for arid