There was a time when most people thought landscaping was little more than lawn mowing, weeding and planting a few flowers. In recent years, landscaping has taken on a whole new meaning. Good landscape design can add to the value of a home, dramatically increase your living space, and contribute greatly to an improved home lifestyle.
As a trade, landscaping has been divided into three main fields:
- Lawn care companies
- Landscape maintenance firms
- Landscape design firms
Lawn care companies specialize in mowing, raking, edging, seeding and otherwise caring for the grassy areas.
Landscape maintenance firms are primarily concerned with periodic maintenance of shrubs and flowerbeds.
Landscape design firms that handle landscape construction and planting under the direction of a landscape designer or architect. This last group deals with everything from patios to fountains to rock gardens.
Most people have no long-term plans for their landscaping. More often than not, changes in the landscape are triggered by sales on plants at the local nursery or home center. Some of these impulse purchases die before being transplanted and plants that are successfully transplanted end up providing a final look short of expectations. While nearly every household does some landscaping, few achieve the results they seek. In most neighborhoods, truly appealing landscapes are few and far between.
Why do so few people create truly satisfying landscapes? It certainly isn’t for lack of trying. It’s nearly always for lack of attention to the design. A good landscape designer can help you integrate all kinds of practical and aesthetic considerations into an overall plan that achieves the effects that are most important to you. Whether you want to attract birds, impress the neighbors, or create fanciful outdoor recreation areas for grandchildren, landscape designers can help you pull it together so that it really works.
Most people assume that landscape designer means “big expense.” This is not necessarily the case. Designers can help you work within a budget and can help you implement the landscape plan in stages spread over several seasons.
Most homeowners who do their own landscaping end up redoing parts of it time and time again, trying to create the right look without creating a maintenance nightmare. This is not a recipe for saving money. A designer can help you develop an approach that doesn’t waste your time and money.
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To get help with your landscape design, there are many ways to gather ideas:
- Landscaping and gardening books
- Home and gardening magazines
- Computer-based landscape design tools
- Flower shows and home shows
- Home centers and nurseries
For the most comprehensive design help, use a landscape architect or someone with equivalent training. These people have studied landscaping from every angle over a long period of time and are in the best position to help you juggle thousands of variables to end up with the ideal plan for you. Even if you decide to formulate a plan on your own, have a landscape design professional review your ideas before you start moving dirt around or buying expensive plants.