A Few Basics

Landscaping has been described as combining biology, horticulture, architecture, and social relations and applying it to a specific climate, site, and way of life. It includes not only the plantings in the area but also the other features such as rocks, fences, patios and decks, walks, pools, and anything else that makes up the general area. It is then, no surprise then that as an art form it can be extremely personal with few absolute rules. Neither is it surprising that many people are overwhelmed by the whole idea and either ignore it, leaving their grounds as they are and performing minimal maintenance, or haphazardly poke a few plants in the ground, now and then, that rarely survive. These results are unimaginative at best.

Another choice to which some resort is hiring professionals to do part or all of the initial work, and occasionally the ongoing maintenance as well. There is nothing wrong with this approach. However, landscaping is something that the average person can do themselves. It takes thought, imagination, time, and some physical labor, but no more of any of these than the vast majority of people have at their disposal.

That said, the choice of doing it yourself or hiring others is a decision you must make for yourself based on your interest and what you want to accomplish in what amount of time for how much money. Although it can be expensive, there are a couple of advantages to having some of the job done for you. It is not an all or nothing decision; it may be appropriate to hire out parts while doing much of the work yourself. People who are uncomfortable with design may find the services of a landscape designer or landscape architect of great value. After discussions about your specific needs, desires, and expectations, a “Master Plan” can be drawn up which you can carry out as your time and budget allow.

Another option is having some or all of the actual implementation done by professionals. One plus to this is that often professional landscapers include some design work with the project. The biggest advantage of having this phase done for you is that it is normally done quickly. A project that might take you one or more years to complete can normally be done by a crew in a matter of days. Other possible reasons for hiring someone might include obtaining a specialized skill, like concrete finishing or brick laying, that you neither have nor care to learn, or obtaining equipment that you may not have access to for heavy work such as a bulldozer or backhoe for grading or trenching.

Hiring someone to do part or all of the landscape maintenance is normally a decision weighing money versus time and interest. It can be handy to have someone cut and trim your lawn, especially if it is a large one, but most of the time you spend on landscape maintenance is also time that you learn about it and develop a detailed feel for the plants within it.

However you go about your landscaping, the better idea you have of what you are trying to achieve, the more apt you are to be satisfied with the results. Even if you bring in a professional to help you with your design, you should have a general idea of what you want to accomplish and how it should look. There is no substitute for good planning.

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