So, you're forgoing all contractors, and you've committed to performing your own landscaping. Good for you! Don't feel too overwhelmed by the task ahead of you. There are many hints you can follow to make things easier, less expensive and less time consuming for you. Here are a few:
If you're in an area that rarely sees distinct seasons in a year, this tip may not apply to you. But for other 90% of the country that does see some very different seasonal changes, this is a very important tip to follow. Make sure you choose plants, and other accent elements that will provide enjoyment all year. The common goals of the best works of landscaping have always been to have flowering trees and shrubs in the spring and summer, beautiful color accents in the fall, and sturdy structure and greenery in the winter. You know your region the best -- ask some local nurseries or gardening experts which type of 4-season plants they recommend.
Deciduous plants (plants that shed their foliage) may provide color and variety to your backyard, but the use of evergreen trees is an element you do not want to exclude from your landscaping project. These trees and shrubs provide year round greenery to your yard or garden, and oftentimes, if used correctly, can provide structure and shelter to your deciduous plants in bad weather.
When possible, layer all your plant beds in 3 rows. Most of the time, if you're undertaking a landscaping project, you already have a theme in mind. Layering your plant beds is a key aspect of unity...or theme continuity. In other words, layering your plant bed as specified below just looks good.
Start by utilizing your back row for the tallest plants. The middle row should be plants of average height, and you're front row should be the shortest plants (often times the most colorful as well!). Each higher layer will provide a certain amount of shelter for the row underneath. If you've utilized some deciduous and coniferous trees as well, the canopies of these will provide protection for your plant beds.
A garden or yard without the most exquisitely blooming perennials wouldn't be complete. But if you don't incorporate the use of annuals to supplement your perennials, you will have extended periods in which your beautiful landscape has no color! Make sure you equally distribute several different species and varieties of annuals throughout your landscape. Compliment these with some phenomenally beautiful perennials. You will have unique bursts of color throughout the entire blooming season that are subtly concreted with the everlasting color of your annuals.
The best gardens and yards have a distinct mix of plants and hardscape (fences, pathways, decks, sidewalks, etc). Much like the evergreen trees, many hardscape features can provide structure, unity and protection. Decks and patios provide a place for people to sit and enjoy your hard work. Pathways and sidewalks allow for an interactive landscape -- one that can be moved about and mingle with. Fences add a sense of coziness and a certain "finished look" to a yard, and adds protection to your undertaking. Decide which types or combinations of hardscapes will fit in tune with your theme idea for your new landscape.
Remember the age old saying, "Those who sleep close to water find tranquility?" This applies to you! You should choose at least one focal point for your landscaping project -- and a water feature is a perfect addition. Think of it as a centerpiece of your backyard. Water features are not just pleasing to the eye they also add an element of sound as well. Don't let the false notion of complexity deter you from exploring a water feature as something to include in your yard. Check out your local hardware store for rubber/plastic lining, easy to install water pumps, and inexpensive fountain elements. Strategically placed rocks can also construct an easy to make waterfall!