By Kimberly Toscano
While a brand new home delivers up-to-date countertops and the latest in bathroom fixtures, it is often lacking when it comes to the landscape. Expansive lawns and miniscule shrubs do little to complement a new home’s shining exterior. It can be tempting to start planting as soon as possible. Before digging into planting, take some time to get to know the landscape and develop a plan for success. Once you have a plan for planting in place, you can develop the garden of your dreams to match your new home’s appeal.
Building a landscape from scratch can be overwhelming and expensive. New homeowners often have limited budgets, so it is a good idea to start small. Unless you are working with a contractor, make a plan to build the garden over time, bed by bed.
Prioritize Plantings. Think of the landscape as performing a variety of functions. These may include welcoming visitors, outdoor dining, growing food, or providing a play space for kids. Make a list of the types of outdoor spaces or “rooms” you would like, then set your priorities. Which ones would you like to build first? Don’t forget service areas for trash bins and recycling cans.
Consider Views. Many new homes have wide open views into adjoining properties. When targeting areas for planting, identify good views you wish to frame or enhance and take note of any undesirable views that need screening. Are there areas that would benefit from additional privacy? Also take a critical look at your home from the street to identify areas where you can make a good first impression upon visitors. Finally, remember to observe the landscape through windows from your favorite seating areas inside the home.
Get Water Savvy. Before installing any new plantings, have a plan for irrigation in place. One of the greatest benefits of starting with new construction is the ability to install an irrigation system. It is much more challenging to retrofit an old landscape with mature trees and shrubs with the necessary plumbing to deliver water efficiently. Installing an irrigation system is the best way to manage plant health for years to come.
Part 1 of this series discusses initial steps, such as understanding the property and conditions to aid in plant selection. Part 3 offers planting advice and suggestions for when you are ready to start digging!