While there’s still a chill in the air, spring is just around the corner and being ready for its return means planning ahead. The late winter is the ideal time to start thinking about your spring landscape. Too often the weather turns, homeowners flood the local garden center, and they make impulse buys based solely on appearance. While the flowers may have been appealing in the store, they might not be the right choice for your landscape or design. A successful landscape that can be enjoyed for months to come requires a thoughtful approach and planning.


The first thing you should do when planning ahead is create a logical list of items and projects you want to tackle this year. Next, take each project and create a realistic budget that will allow you to complete it properly. If it’s a large job, remember that it can be broken into smaller, manageable projects that better suit your budget. As you make your list, prioritize the jobs based on budget and desire to decide what you plan to tackle first. Keep in mind what the long-term maintenance on these projects may be like, as that can contribute to the budget. While some ideas look great on paper or in photos, they may be expensive to maintain or require more time than you actually want to devote.


As you create your plans, if landscape design is on the list, consider professional help. There is a strategic process involved in properly preparing designs and this process takes time, so you should be prepared to pay for the work. Interview a couple different landscape contractors/designers and find the one with whom you’re comfortable working. It’s important this contractor understands your vision, style, and overall budget. A good landscape designer will also be thinking about plans for the long-term. If you need to phase out your landscape in stages, you need a good plan to follow so that when it’s completed over the next three- to five-years it looks like a well-developed and complete project—not a series of projects that were added over time.


A professional landscape designer will also think about the long-term ramifications of your project in regards to the site and the plant material. Common but costly mistakes include things like planting shrubbery with aggressive roots too close to a foundation, planting a tree in an area where it will one day provide unwanted shade, or planting a tree too close to a power line. Smaller mistakes include choosing plant material that isn’t right for your climate, sun exposure, or soil type. An experienced designer will be well-versed at planning for the future in all regards.


Giving your landscape the advanced thought and attention it deserves will pay off—not only for a beautiful spring landscape but for the long run!

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