Planning Landscape Improvements

Question: I was told recently that January is a good time to contact landscape experts before they get too busy. I don’t have a lot of money for fees. Who would you suggest I contact to get advice and suggestions on how to implement my ideas for landscape improvements? We would like to do most of the work ourselves.

Answer: There are many landscape professionals who are willing to do free consultations if there is a good likelihood that they will get some business from it. You will need to purchase plants, supplies and possibly tools. So the best place for you to start would be stores which sell those items.

Although big box stores like Home Depot often have employees who are willing to help, your best advice would likely come from locally owned full service nurseries and garden stores. Some of them have landscape designers on their staffs or also do landscape installation work. If you bring them a blueprint or sketch of your home and property, they may be able to sketch some ideas for a small fee. If you already have some ideas sketched out, they should be able to suggest some plants and hardscape materials to implement your ideas.

Many landscape contractors have design people as part of their staff. Even though you may want to do most of the work yourself, you may want to have them so some of the hardscape or more difficult work.

If you want help in creating you own ideas, there are many books on landscape design available in the library. A few years ago I was a consultant for a series of landscape design books published by Home Planners, Inc. The books are out of print but I found used copies of several on Amazon and other sites. They are: The Home Landscaper, The Backyard Landscaper, and Easy-Care Landscape Plans.

You will also find ideas online if you put in search words such as “landscape design”.

You may also want to consider consulting a professional landscape architect or landscape designer. Their professional fee paid advice may save you from making some costly mistakes along the way. You should be able to get some advice for a fee that fits your budget.

One piece of advice I always like to give to anyone doing landscape planting, whether they are using professionals or not. Don’t overplant. We all want to have a beautiful finished product as soon as we finish planting. However, small plants grow into larger ones. Be sure to know the mature size of everything you plant and allow plants enough space to grow to mature size. Plants which grow to a 4 foot width should not be planted 2 feet apart. 6 foot plants should not be placed in front of a 4 foot window.
Good luck. There is lots of information out there on landscaping.

Allen Wilson can be contacted at

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