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Landscape Design Series: Getting Your Hands Dirty

This is the fifth post in the Landscape Design Series.

You Made it!

You have made it! It is graduation day-Pomp and Circumstance is playing. Over the previous posts, we covered landscape design tips and secrets to prepare you for next spring. Our landscape design series included topics about planning a design; the elements and principles of design; site inventory and analysis; and Right Plant, Right Place. For our final post in the series, we will discuss tips for planning the installation of your new landscape.

Budget Accordingly

Before, during, and after the design process, the budget is a major concern. It is very enjoyable to design gardens and landscapes with all the bells and whistles-but we always need to be practical. Some tips to help design and install an affordable landscape include phasing, granting yourself flexibility, shopping around, and to start small.

Do not expect to install your entire design at one time. Plan to install your landscape in multiple phases. Design your entire landscape masterplan based on your needs and wants. Based on your budget then select the parts of the landscape to install first, second, or third. Phasing is a great way to help install the landscape you want, by stretching the cost over time.

Give Yourself Flexability

Secondly, grant yourself flexibility with your design. Our designs typically select very specific plants for very specific locations but feel free to select similar plant material that is cheaper. As an example, you may have chosen the Florida native Climbing Aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum) but you find a cheaper Purple Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata). Both plants are similar and prefer similar conditions, but by giving yourself some flexibility, you can save yourself money.

Start small by picking younger trees and shrubs. I do not blame you that you want the immediate “WOW!” factor when installing your landscape. The larger, older plant material you want in the landscape increases the total cost. I like to use the phrase, “plants do a magical thing called grow”.  Make an investment in your plants by planting smaller, younger plants and watch them grow. This can help significantly reduce your cost or help you install larger phases of your design. Remember to space your plants based on their mature size, not their size in the pot. A one-gallon Coontie (Zamia floridana) may look small, but it will grow to be three to five feet wide.

Details, Details

Do not forget about the details. Your landscape is a vital resource and how you manage those resources is very important. The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program’s nine principles serve as a great resource to manage your landscape as responsibly. By following the principle of Right Plant, Right Place in your design, you will be on your way to creating a beautiful, environmentally conscious landscape.

Design details are not limited to plant material. Build resiliency into your landscape by being creative in your material selection. Are you able to recycle, reuse, reclaim, or repurpose anything in your landscape to create stepping-stones, walkways, or decorations? Many beautiful landscapes are reusing items in creative ways. A great example is New York City’s Highline Park. It used to be a train track running above parts of the city.

Time to Get Messy

It is now time to get your hands dirty. Although landscape design may seem difficult, there is no reason to panic anymore. I hope these posts built your confidence in preparing your future, beautiful landscape.

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