Planting Design Essentials

A creative planting design of trees, shrubs, groundcovers and perennials

A beautifull planting design is captivating, welcoming
and interesting. It makes a space come alive with color
and texture. Doesn't this photograph look like
a place where you would like to spend endless amounts
of time?

A landscape does not exist without plants. Your home
grounds can be a place of relaxation and contain an
abundance of flowers for you to enjoy while outdoors or
to use for arrangements indoors.

Your beautiful house with all the hardscape installed
stands alone.

It just is not finished until you do the
installation of the landscape plants.

The plants soften the edges of the structures and add life,
color and interest to your home. They integrate
your house to its surroundings and give it scale.
Special needs are met with landscape plants'
abilities to screen undesirable views, provide
shade or be a striking focal point.

Here are a few Planting Design guidelines
that I take into consideration when developing a
landscape plan.

  • The front of the house is always on display. The landscaping is going to make
    or break the street appeal of the house.
    I do not like to fight the architecture of
    the front of the house, but work with it and accent
    When possible, I like to frame the
    view of the house with trees. I do not like to see
    trees planted in front of the front door. It disrupts
    the overall view of the house. Use evergreen plants
    that look good most of the year to keep the maintenance

Stucco house under construction before landscaping

The front of this house does not look striking at all
while it is under construction and without any landscape
plants. It is in desperate need of a planting design
that gives it the prominence that it deserves.
A beautifully landscaped stucco home
This house is now a striking addtion to a fine
neighborhood. The plants frame the front door and
accent the architecture.

  • If desired, the property in the back of the house can be personalized and
    can take on a style all its own.

    In this situation, the landscape plant’s purpose is
    to accent the landscape elements like the
    pool or patio. Your eye is not always focused on the house in the
    back yard, but often is looking out and away from
    the house. The planting design can be more relaxed,
    but still needs to be cohesive and planned well.

New pool and garage not yet landscaped
This beautiful house with a new pool is in dire
need of help to integrate these structural elements
into the landscape and make them function
Pool with a stone wall
This pool and house now come alive. The lawn
provides an inviting way to wander around the
property while adding a lush green color. The
shrubbery softens the surfaces and provides interest.

  • Try to use plants that you like and would
    like to see in your landscape. Also, be flexible
    and aware enough to know that other plants might
    fit the need or environment better.

    Every plant in the design should have a purpose even
    if it is a simple one. It should be that well planned.
    My first draft of a planting plan is to determine what
    size and type of plant I need to use to best do the job.
    The second step is to actually select plant varieties.

  • The entire area developed on the landscape
    plan needs to be considered as one canvas.

    I like to compare doing a landscape plan to painting
    a picture. It’s easy to get caught up in one tiny area
    and not see the whole picture. Stand back and take
    in the whole view and see how the palette of plants
    brings out the beauty of your house and grounds by
    accenting the architecture correctly and adding a
    wide range of colors and textures.

  • Before Picture of Small Yard
    Whoever did this planting design could not imagine
    anything in this space except a small tree and a
    line of shrubs to edge the bed. The new owners of
    the house wanted something exciting to view from the
    porch and an intriging garden that beckoned to people
    to come down off the porch and enjoy it.
    Pond with Water Plants
    This small space is now full of excitement! The planting
    design shows off the house while also providing
    a wonderful view and place to relax. Another
    dimension of planting design is to plant your
    pond with water plants like water lillies and
    iris. This planting plan creates a beautiful
    picture and functions well too.

  • Structure in the landscape is created
    by having a good skeleton of strong, evergreen
    Do not depend on seasonal color
    or deciduous plants to do this job. I love to use
    a large variety of plants in my planting designs.
    When adding seasonal color, plant it in front of
    an evergreen. This design technique enhances the
    added color by adding a backdrop and the evergreen
    plant looks nice in the landscape all year.

  • Brick Colonial House Before Landscaped
    The house looks lost and unattached from its
    surroundings without a nice planting design to
    show it off.
    A Brick Colonial House with Nice Landscaping
    The evergreen planting design gives a strong
    structure to the front of this house.
    pine trees look like part of the landscaping instead
    of the house looking like it has intruded on the pines.
    The large sweeping bed around the trees that is full
    of plants is much more impressive than a collection
    of small beds. The dogwood trees add spring color
    to frame the front door and the groundcover (Vinca minor)
    in front of the shrubs produces a sweet blue flower in
    the spring. This planting design looks good year round
    and also provides color.

  • Think about the amount of maintenance you can realistically do.
    A simple landscape that is well maintained looks
    nicer than an elaborate one that constantly needs work.
    If planting annuals for seasonal color each year is
    too much work, consider using an evergreen groundcover
    or a mass of long blooming perennials in its place.
    Do not plant an overabundance of shrubs that need regular
    pruning. Keep your shrub plantings to the basic amount
    needed to do the job and use varieties that do not
    grow larger than the space allotted.

  • A creative planting design can do wonderful things
    for your property. Clients are always amazed
    at how an imaginatively designed professional landscape
    transforms their property into a much more usable and
    exciting place.

    Planting Design can be challenging. Please Ask the Expert planting design questions.
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