Saturday, November 17, 2012


Architect Gil Schafer III's "The Great American House: Tradition for the Way We Live Now" says, "Consider landscape design as part of your project's (new home design) overall budget from the beginning even if it requires you to scale back on other elements.  You're not just creating a dwelling but a true sense of place.  Ideally, the home should feel as though it belongs in its environment and beckens you to dwell there."

If you're into gardening, have you noticed you will be drawn into a landscape design if it fits or compliments the home.  Put two identical new homes side by side and people will be drawn to the one where the house is framed by thoughtful landscaping.

Put these two homes side by side and the potential buyer will notice a hefty increase in the cost of the home that's already landscaped.  Complimentary landscaping does add value to your home.  Landscaping done poorly or with little thought to design and harmony can have the opposite result.

If you're contemplating building a new home, following Mr. Schafer's advice for budgeting the landscaping is a good idea.  Perhaps you can't afford to do it all, but, having the plan done at the same time and perhaps adding a few good bones will prevent costly mistakes.

Putting in foundation shrubs willy nilly just to say you've landscaped is a waste of good money.  If the yard is graded to protect the home from moisture, leave the foundation planting to later.  Put your money in a few good trees placed with future growth in mind.

In a windy part of the country, it's prudent to plant evergreens for wind control.

If summers are hot and sunny, planting deciduous trees on the south and west of the home will eventually provide shade where it's most needed.

Deciding your level of involvement is necessary in picking the right trees.  If your aim is to plant and forget, choose a tree with no long term needs outside of the watering while it gets established.  Don't plant trees that have loads of fruit, fertile seed pods, mega sized or quantity of leaves, susceptible to disease or insects, needs trimming or pruning on a regular basis nor is borderline hardy to your area.

Another landscape budget tip is putting in hardscapes at the time the home is built instead of haphazard through the years.  That includes walks, driveway, and retaining walls.  It's not necessary to lay many thousand of dollars of cement; it is important to have the design.  Any good landscape design considers the hardscape uses for the present and the future. 

Another piece of advice I wish I'd heard long ago, "Don't make more gardens than you can properly take care of when you get older."  I might also add, consider if this home is going to be only a step in a series of homes you will own over a lifetime or is the plan to have this your home for the long term.

If you tend to move often, landscaping should be with resale in mind.  It should enhance the home without adding a personality that might not be to every one's liking.  It shouldn't require a lot of work to maintain or many potential buyers will not even get to the home's qualities before thinking negative.  Hot tubs are not a good landscape selling point contrary to HGTV's hype.

Speaking of HGTV hype, we are flooded with programs showing what the rich and famous have built for homes.  It's hyped to the average masses as what they think we all want - more, bigger, and extravagant.  In truth, most of us live in a world far removed from these excesses.  Build landscaping that's over the top in middle America and you won't have a chance of selling that home to perhaps 1 in 22 zillion people. 

On the other hand if you plan to live in your home for many years and it's an extension of your family's way of life, make the design plan comfortable for those years of living without a lot of constraints in relation to the day it must be sold.  Let the next person either love it or bulldoze it.


  1. true said. gardening and landscaping are equally important. both go hand in hand if you want to create a nice home environment.

  2. Thanks "edginglandscaping", sounds like you know this from a commercial point of view. Have a nice Thanksgiving. Diane