I enjoy living in Chesapeake, but I have to admit that winters can be dreary. While we don’t have to contend with the snow and ice of more northern climes, it can be cold, muddy, and a bit damp here in Virginia. And as I write, it’s starting to snow. It’s enough to keep me indoors, and out of the yard that I love.
Cold or not, spring will be here soon. So while I’m cocooned here in my home, I’m already starting to imagine some possible landscaping improvements. I’m spending some time sketching, some time web browsing to clarify some ideas, and I’m making the most of my time indoors. If you, too, are stuck indoors when you would rather be out working in your yard, now is a wonderful time to do a little landscape planning.
If you don’t already have some specific plans for your yard, creating a place to keep inspiring ideas is a great way to start. Make a folder to keep clippings of any magazine articles that included something of interest. Or create a digital folder on your computer where you can keep images, notes, and links to inspiring things you find online.
Let’s say you could use some inspiration, but don’t know where to start. Why not start by searching for a favorite plant or a tree? Do you like formal gardens or casual ones? Would you like to have fruit-bearing trees or shrubs, or a garden that smells wonderful in the summertime? Perhaps you would like to surround yourself with a favorite color – purple, anyone? Finding inspiration can be as easy as searching for “purple trees and shrubs” online.
Once you find something that inspires you, use it as a starting point. Perhaps you discover that you would love to have a purple Japanese maple tree in your yard. That’s a great start. You can build on that by reading about maples online, or by visiting your local nursery and asking the staff if they could show you some purple maples that grow well where you live.
As you learn, take down notes. Save pictures. Ask questions of people who know, like a local horticulturalist or landscaper. Keep track of which plants would flourish in the sunniest parts of your yard, or underneath the shade of your largest trees. Consider which plants will fill in your open spaces quickly, or take their time to reach maturity. When you start to get a more clear idea about how you would like your yard to look, taking some measurements and pencil-sketching out some ideas is a great next step.
If you love the idea of a beautiful yard, but you’re less sure about your landscaping planning abilities, call a landscaper. A few years ago, I called Grounds Guys. They put a basic landscaping plan together for me, and then planted a selection of trees and shrubs throughout my yard. Since then, I’ve taken over the planning, but I still rely on Grounds Guys to mow my lawn and keep my yard neat and clean. They’ve also planted a couple of larger trees for me.
Later today, I’ll be sketching out some ideas to add more color to a shadier part of my yard. It will be a few weeks before I’m able to purchase the flowers and shrubs I need to execute my plans, but I don’t mind. I’m perfectly content to spend a February afternoon indoors, spending a little time thinking about my landscape when it’s too cold to be outside. Maybe you would enjoy it, too.