Are you planning to revamp your outdoor space by giving your yard a complete overhaul, or do you only intend to spruce up your front lawn?
Whatever plans to enhance your outdoor space may be, a solid plan is essential in ensuring that everything falls into place, from the design to the purpose to the costs.
The design should not only improve the appearance of one's home but also add an aesthetic appeal that will help breathe new life into one’s property.
Peter Kimathi, Director of Meru Landscape and Garden design says that landscaping requires a lot of planning and that one needs to put certain factors into consideration before embarking on any project.
Size of land and topography
Space is the main concern when designing a piece of land. And knowing how to use your land is critical to your landscape design as this will inform everything, from plant choice to its layout.
“Ensure that there is enough room for your property to support the design,” Kimathi explains, adding that, “An all-encompassing style can also help unify the scenery and help guide how one will place and select the intended plants while tailoring the design.”
According to David Mugambi, a lecturer in Natural Resource Management and a PhD student in Environmental Planning and management at the University of Eldoret, “The size of land informs on the type, choice of flower, choice of artificial and natural parameters to incorporate in your landscape.”
“The topography should also inform the drainage system so as not to have water logging in your yard, '' Kimathi explains.
Outdoor spaces can mainly be used for relaxing, parties, play, entertainment and occasional picnics. These key aspects should be kept in mind as a priority while designing and fashioning.
Costs and maintenance
Before any installation is embarked on, one needs to draw a budget to avoid starting a project only to run out of cash.
Is it a project that will require specialised individuals and heavy-duty machinery, or is it one that will just require simple gardening?
With this, one needs to start by identifying the intended changes, factor in the features envisioned, and the plants needed while specifying the landscape design to be considered. Are you going for a simple or complex design?
Similarly, consider the envisioned features, while putting into consideration labour and the materials to be used.
The future maintenance costs should also be factored in so as to inform one of the amounts of money and time to be dedicated to maintaining the yard and keeping it in top shape.
“Certain plants grow best in certain climates. For instance, certain garden plants that do well in Meru include lemon, cypress, Italian cypress Eugenia plant, and all types of palm including royal golden and peacock palm, croton plant, and Ashok plants. Most garden plants do well in Meru,” Kimathi says.
“One should also be best informed before going for a particular certain type of flower. Don’t just buy flowers because they look good at their place of origin. You may later be disappointed to realise that they cannot thrive in your intended region, and worse still, realise that they don’t blend well with the created landscape,” he explains.
Choose plants best suited for your climate and those that you can comfortably care for.
Proper planning and placing of the plants in your yard is also quite essential in creating a visually interesting yard.
One should consider incorporating plants of different sizes and shapes to have a striking yard. Having a yard with plants that have the same height is visually boring.
The existing plants should also be considered so as to determine which plants and shrubs are to be retained. This will help avoid unnecessary uprooting and starting afresh.
Some of the retained plants and shrubs can be used as wind barriers and as fences. Choosing low-maintenance plants and grass is a good way of cutting down the costs of pesticides and weeds.
Mugambi points out that the choice of vegetation should also be one that helps hold water and soil together.
The choice of plants should help one mix beauty with the economic aspect by incorporating some fruit trees, say apple, pawpaw or avocadoes.
The materials should be durable. They should not lose their splendour or functionality too quickly even under the extreme conditions of nature.
The materials should also serve multiple purposes in the garden, for instance, beauty and security.
“For instance, a garden wall will not only improve security but will also enhance the beauty of the yard,” says Mugambi.
The amount of sun falling on your property at various times of the day will inform the kind of vegetation to incorporate into your yard.
The sunlight should be adequate as too little sunlight won’t help the plants, while too much sunlight will cause damage.
Have the future in mind
Before embarking on any form of landscaping, Kimathi advises individuals to check and factor in whether the landscape design will still be relevant in the near future.
Ask yourself how the design will look in the future, and whether it gives you space to access all the corners, as some plants may grow into huge trees and bushes rendering the design selected outdated or irrelevant.