University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Plan Before Planting Landscapes

April 13, 2000

Attractive landscapes can greatly enhance homes and add considerable value to property. But there is more to landscaping than just purchasing plants that look good and planting them in the yard. Landscaping takes considerable thought and planning ahead to achieve good results.

Start by having a plan. Consider hiring a professional landscape planner. If you want to do it yourself, there are publications available to help. A good one is Landscaping Your Home, publication C1111, available through University of Illinois Extension.

It's very important to begin any landscape plan with an analysis of the existing site and the needs of those who will be living in the home. Carefully survey the property to see what natural features may fit well into the plan. Are there existing mature trees to be saved? Not all trees found on the property may be desirable for a home landscape, however. Also consider utility easements, septic fields or sewer lines, buried utilities, and overhead wires that can have a big impact on plantings.

Good views should remain open and undesirable sights should be screened out by a well-planned landscape. Consider not only sights, but also sounds. Plantings can be used to screen out both. Also consider views from inside the house so main rooms look out onto a lawn or garden area. You may want to have a certain room to look out on a unique garden or planting.

Sunlight, wind, precipitation, and temperature all make up the climate of a site. This will
have considerable bearing on plant material selection. In addition, locations of trees and fences can control sunlight or shade on the house and living or utility areas to some extent. Carefully consider where patios, gardens, and planting beds will be and what type of exposure to expect as the seasons change.

Proper planning of a home landscape should be long range. All plantings do not need to be made at one time or in one season. If you have a long-range plan, you can gradually add to it and will not have the frustration later on of having to remove poorly located plants.

An important final area to consider in your plan is the amount of maintenance the landscape will require, who will be taking care of it, and how much time they will have to take care of it. Many homeowners prefer to have a low maintenance plan.


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