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Photo: Lincolnian

When homeowners desire to improve their home, rarely do they think of the exterior landscape. Usually, the exterior is power washed or painted, and fake shutters are applied, attempting to add depth to the facade. But, the addition of some medium-height shrubs or small ornamental trees will improve the house's appeal much more than false appliques. In fact, the well-tended landscape around a structure can change the building's character throughout the year. It is almost as if the house has been renovated each season. This is a great addition to a home's exterior.

The location of major plantings and trees can frame and highlight the home. As stated earlier, planting designs can add apparent depth, but the landscape designs also can provide inhabitable spaces for picnics, lawn games, etc. One of the advantages of landscaping is the ability to create exterior rooms, like courts, squares, and patios. Such spaces can make the square footage of a home seem to double or more, and these are a much better use of space than a sprawling yard that exists independently of the home.

Though it is possible to create a landscape strategy on one's own, it is usually better to have a professional help the homeowner produce the plan. Using a landscape architect or professional gardener gives the owner a much greater scope of plant types and methods of landscaping.

Another benefit of hiring a professional is the ability to select the correct plants for specific areas of the yard. Using a big box store for plant selection may be cheaper, but the purchased plants will not be as likely to thrive in the landscape because the buyer may not know the proper place to plant. If the property has less sunlight or special type of soil, only certain plants will be able to grow in the location. Furthermore, a landscape architect or experienced gardener would be able to specify and locate indigenous plants. In this time of conservation and green design, indigenous plants are a prudent choice. Many garden stores only have the popular varieties of plants. Often, the indigenous plants have "exotic" forms and very unique blooms, to spice up the landscape around the home.

Whether an individual hires a landscape architect or not, the best idea, when producing a landscape, is to begin with a plan. Not only will a drawn plan of a proposed site design provide the exact location of planting, but thoughtful selection and placement of plants will allow the homeowner to have a beautiful yard throughout the year.  An appropriate combination of plants and trees can provide color and form at all times of the year, not just Spring.

Landscaping does not have to exist only on the exterior of structures. Interior planters and potted flora can enhance various rooms of the house. Also, plants can fill and improve awkward corners and irregular spaces in the home. In addition, most interior plants require little or no natural sunlight.

To learn more, please see:

American Society of Landscape Architects
American Horticultural Society Master Gardeners Landscaping
The Landscape Design Site