Design Tips For Planning Your Outdoor Spaces

Do you look out to your yard and wish you had a nice view to appreciate after a long day? Well now you can! Designing your yard doesn't have to be a daunting task if you know where to start and have a clear direction of where you want to go with your yard! By following the tips below and the basic principles of landscape design; proportion, order, repetition, and unity of design; you will finally have that view you always dreamed of!
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KNOW YOUR YARD
Before putting anything on paper or deciding what you want to put in your backyard, you need to know your space! What is the topography of the backyard? Is it sloped? What is the lighting like in each area of your yard? Think of where you can put full sun plants, partial shade plants and shade plants. Identify where in your yard you can put these plants by tracking how long different areas of the yard get sun for. Also take into consideration what is already growing in your yard. It may be a good idea, and will be much more affordable, to incorporate whats already in your yard into your design!
Also think about the drainage of water and the slope of your yard. Some areas could be subject to water-logging and lead to erosion if your yard isn't leveled properly. Get a landscaper or surveyor to take a look at your yard if you are planning on going all out!
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MAIN PURPOSE OF YARD?
What is the main purpose of your yard? Is it going to be used as a chill hangout/lounging place, for your kids to run around and enjoy, to host a lot of parties, to have a huge productive garden, etc.? 
Think about what you usually use your yard for and design with that in mind! Section off areas of the yard with landscaping to create designated areas for the kids stuff, the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, a deck/patio, a garden, or whatever you plan on putting in your yard!
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BASE AESTHETIC ON ARCHITECTURE OF HOUSE
What type of design are you going for? A more classic garden feel, a contemporary feel or an all-out french renaissance style? 
A good place to start is by looking at the architecture of your house and basing your design off of that. If you have a more modern house, you may want to go with clean, neat, straight lines and symmetry. These are common principles to contemporary/modern design. Or if you have a more classic looking house you may want a more natural, secret garden type of feel with natural curvy, unpredictable lines, winding paths and plants grouped of varying heights/fullness and color schemes. 
Speaking of color, find plants that will compliment the architecture of your home as well! This will add to the curve appeal of your house and increase its value!
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REPEAT SIMILAR SHAPES/STRUCTURES 
Repetition is a big element of landscape design to create structure, flow and balance out your yard. To keep the yard feeling like one cohesive space, and not an overwhelming mess, you can scatter the same plants all around your yard. For example if you have a thing for rhododendrons, and juniper then you can have one or two bushes in the front and scatter a few more in the backyard. 
Another way to use repetition is in the shapes that you are using in your yard. Do you want a squared off patio, or a rounded patio? This shape could then be repeated in the way you arrange your plants and create different pathways throughout the yard. 
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HIGHLIGHT CERTAIN ZONES BY USING CONTRASTING ELEMENTS
Remember the color wheel that you learned in about 1st grade? That will come in handy when choosing the plants for your yard! You want to make sure everything matches and flows together well. 
You can do this by placing plants with contrasting shapes, sizes and colors together in a section of your yard. The stark contrast is bound to draw your attention, and maybe even distract your attention from something you don't want people to see in your yard such as irrigation or pool equipment.  You can then continue this throughout the yard in different sections to pull together the whole yard to make it feel like one cohesive space! After highlighting these spaces with contrasting plants, linking them together is the final step! Using contrasting hardscape elements, such as bricks and stones, for pathways will help pull the whole yard together and give you an easy way to get around your yard!
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THINK ABOUT THE FULL, MATURE SIZE OF PLANTS
It is crucial that when you plan out your garden you must design with the full size of the plant in mind. When drawing up your sketch for your yard, be sure to draw the plants, in their full, mature size, to scale in order to make sure that your plants aren't suffocating each other and trying to outcompete one another. Every plant needs a certain amount of space to reach its full potential, so keep this in mind when planning where you are going to put your plants! 
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KEEP IT NATIVE!!
 Do you want to help your local ecosystem? Then don't plant invasive species in your yard! Invasive species are classified as such because they are not native to their environment, meaning that they have little to no predators in the area and can outcompete native plants and also possibly harm native wildlife/insects as they are not accustomed to this new plant. This leads to invasive species spreading quickly, preventing the growth of native species and eventually creating monocultures, which decreases biodiversity. 
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THINK ABOUT IRRIGATION
Last, but certainly not least, you should think about how your plants/yard will be irrigated. Are you going to install a sprinkler system? Catch your own rainwater to be more sustainable and give your plants better, natural water? A drip irrigation system? 
Each of these methods will call for irrigation to be installed at different stages in the process of designing your backyard so thinking ahead is crucial!
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 Well, now that you have an idea of where to start, lets get designing! If you have any questions, or feel that we missed a tip, please leave a comment below!

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