Researching the project

You may be itching to get a shovel into the ground or to call up a contractor but the more research you do first, the happier you (or your clients) are likely to be with the end results, let us help you work out with landscaping, where to start.

While it is important to get the look and feel of a plot right, the most important factor is that the landscaping meets the overall purpose of the project. Make sure you keep your top priorities front of mind while planning. For example, a children’s park may need to be safe and easy to maintain. You might want your home garden to be private and attract wildlife while producing fruit and veg to eat. Or you might just want a smart looking dining area with plenty of herbs for your outdoor kitchen.

While researching, collect notes and ideas in a folder. This could be a physical ring-binder or an online file. Many people use mood boards or online platforms such as Pinterest. These will not only help you to refine your project but can be helpful if you plan to use professional landscapers.

Get inspiration from similar projects, both commercial and domestic. For example, if you are landscaping a formal garden, visit both public examples and those designed by friends. Watch YouTube videos, browse the internet, visit forums and ask plenty of questions.

Always bear in mind the size, shape, direction and soil type of your plot. While a skilled landscaper can do a lot to change or optimise these factors, it is easier and less expensive to work within these limits.

Sketching the outline

Once you feel ready to move on to the design stage, it will help to break down your landscaping project into areas. For example, you might need to think about:

  • Boundaries. These include walls, hedges and fences. Will you be planting a laurel hedge for privacy or do you prefer a natural hedge using native plants? Walls can be brick or concrete and can be left natural or painted to blend in. Fences come in many different styles.
  • Zones. How many different areas will you need? For example, you might go for a lawn, a hard decking area, some beds for growing vegetables and a fruit orchard.
  • Paths. These are ideal for connecting and separating zones. Do you prefer paving stones, gravel, grass or bark? Steps or treads may be needed to connect different levels.
  • Planting (soft landscaping). This is one of the most important areas of design as you will need to take into account appearance, soil type, shade, wind direction and more. Think about how each plant will change through the seasons and over time. Consider not just visual aspects (colour, texture, etc.) but also the sounds and scents it will bring. What wildlife is it likely to attract and how will it affect nearby plants?
  • Lighting. There are many options for introducing light into your garden including solar lights.
  • Water. Will you be adding one or more ponds? Is there natural water, such as a stream, that will need to be accounted for? How about fountains and other water features?

Often the issue with where to start with landscaping is just about getting your ideas down on paper, it can really help you to focus on the details and form good talking points if you choose to hire help later.

If you prefer to work digitally, there is garden planner software available including mobile apps. Some of these are available for free.

Budget and resources

The biggest decision you will need to make is whether you will take on the landscaping project yourself or bring in the professionals.

If you are resourcing the project yourself, go through your plans and make a note of all the materials you will need and the amounts. You will need to include everything: aggregate, bricks, concrete, decking, lighting, mortar, paints/finishes, plants, render, sand, timber, tools, waterproof membranes, etc.

Carry out some more research on suppliers to help you come up with a realistic budget for materials. You will then need to factor in labour. Do you have friends, family or volunteers that will be happy to help or will you need to bring in hired workers? Do you have a plan B if someone lets you down?

Finally, make sure you add at least 10% to your budget to cover any over-run. So there we go, we hope this helped you get a grasp on where to start with landscaping.

If you get stuck and are looking to hire a professional landscaper, make sure you choose a company that has experience with similar size projects. Arborcure have worked on a wide variety of commercial and domestic landscaping projects. We can help you at the design stage or take your plans and turn them into reality. Please visit our Landscaping Services page for more details about our skills and qualifications and to get a quote.