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This plan can be adapted to a front-door,
side-door or rear entrance.
Use this landscape plan to accent your
home's entranceway, reduce the amount of ground
devoted to turf grass and make the most of the
rain that falls. An artful rain chain and
rock-filled basin help slow runoff from the roof
and direct water into a dry creek bed. Plants in
the stream bed are moisture-tolerant; those
outside are drought-tolerant. Here, you'll find
it sized to a 27'-wide planting area, and also a
This to-do list
will help you install this plan's key features:
Replace the gutter downspout with a decorative
Create a depression at the base of rain chain,
lined with locally available rocks or decorative
gravel to slow water and encourage infiltration
Using flagstone or pavers allows more rain to
enter the soil beneath than would a concrete
walkway; seek out porous pavement options if a
more uniform surface is desired.
Choose plants well adapted to site, soil and
moisture levels (drought-tolerant on higher
ground, moisture-tolerant in dry creek bed.
Mulch with a generous layer of locally
available organic mulch (shredded bark instead
of gravel) to retain moisture and suppress
Other ways to
Install rain barrels at inconspicuous gutter
downspouts to catch roof runoff and use the
water to irrigate your garden, container plants
Reduce the amount of lawn by adding native
plants adapted to your climate and site
Plant deciduous trees for shade.
Plant windbreaks to reduce evapotranspiration.
Water plants early in the morning to promote
deep root growth. Water thoroughly when you
water; don't simply wet the surface.
If you're planning to install your driveway -
or repave an existing one - use edged gravel,
pavers on sand, or porous pavement.
Wash your car on the grass instead of the
The front yard may be the showpiece of your
landscape, but the backyard is all your own, a
sanctuary for relaxation, entertaining and play.
If your backyard could use a facelift, don't
make the mistake of slapping a patio down here
and a garden border there as time and budget
allow. Instead, consider the space holistically,
from how you want to use the yard to how much
time you want to spend working in it.
Ask yourself some basic questions. What do you
want out of the yard a playground for kids, a
cozy retreat, and an entertaining patio? What
materials do you like brick pavers, water,
sustainable plants? Dream a little, then see
what you can afford and have time to maintain.
Eventually, you'll want to get real. Be honest
about your level of involvement. A yard that
requires little work and resources is the holy
grail. Think about how to simplify the plans to
make this happen for you.
2. Take stock of the property
Do a walk-around and consider what you like and
don't like about the space. Make a list of
what's salvageable (the 100-year-old oak tree)
and what's not (a sagging, rotten deck), as well
as how permanent storage (shed, garage, etc.) is
positioned and whether it needs to be moved or
camouflaged. Don't forget to factor in
geographical considerations. If you adore roses
but live in an area with a lot of deer, they'll
get eaten. Either plant something else or plan a
3. Know the rules
Your city or homeowner's association may have
specific regulations, like maximum fence height
or projects that require permits. Know what's
allowed before you begin work, because if you
break the rules and get caught, not only will
you have to take down your project, but there
will be fines involved.
4. Make a plan, on paper
A plan provides a birds-eye view of your overall
project, which can then be implemented logically
in steps. Designers often draw bubbles to
represent generic spaces like a patio,
playground, garage and pool, then link the
bubbles together with pathways, lawn areas and
gardens. Look at the relationships between
spaces, then draw them to scale. Each individual
space should flow into the next, moving people
from the front yard to back, from a primary
patio to a secondary patio. Entryways, pathways
and exits all play a role in drawing people into
the next space. You can create the impression of
separate spaces by simply changing the floor
material or pattern, or by elevating one portion
slightly above the other to establish distinct
rooms without disrupting the flow.
5. Check the plan from inside
Outdoor spaces should bring pleasure every day,
even when you're inside. When designed right,
your backyard becomes artwork in the windows.
Since homeowners spend more time looking out
that window than any other, then assesses
traffic patterns from the kitchen or mudroom.
Make sure your plan allows you to move people in
and out, to get the garbage out, everything you
need for daily living.
6. Fine-tune each area
Zoom into each "room" in your plan to fix any
shortcomings and implement your small-scale
dreams. If the patio area is near an unsightly
view, draw in a fence or green privacy screen.
If the swing set will face the afternoon sun,
turn it sideways. Does the garden area need a
little oomph? Consider adding an arbor for an
entryway. This is where you focus on wish-list
details as well. If you want a low-maintenance
yard with a small environmental impact, plan
low-water plants in the garden area and think
about swapping out some grassy areas for native
grass or pebbles.
7. Back up and use your wide lens
Now look at your yard in context, both in
relation to the house and to itself. The
flowers, hardscape and even lawn become the
wallpaper of your outdoor room. Choose furniture
with the overall color palate in mind. 8.
Execute in logical stages. The best thing about
a comprehensive plan? You don't need to do it
all at once. Work on one area at a time, but
make sure you're always thinking ahead. For
example, if you're redoing the patio and
eventually want to do an outdoor kitchen, don't
wait to install the gas hookup, since it's more
cost-effective to do when the ground is already
dug up. You simply have to have a plan. You'll
save yourself heartache, time and money, and
you'll have a beautiful yard when it's all