A Guide to Professional Landscape Design

outdoor landscape with patio set

The do-it-yourself lifestyle is a growing movement that more and more people are adopting. Doing home improvement projects on your own provides a creative outlet that also helps you save money. The DIY approach presents an opportunity to work with family or friends to make something you can all enjoy in the future.

A DIY landscaping project may seem intimidating, but it’s a great option to consider if you’re thinking about renovating your home’s exterior. Luckily, there are plenty of useful tips, ideas and resources available online that can teach you how to landscape.

A full-scale DIY outdoor makeover involves several steps. The process starts with the selection of a focal point. Then, you can channel your inner designer to find the perfect plants, furniture and decor. Check out this step-by-step guide and discover how to landscape a yard for maximum functionality and visual appeal.

Pick a Focal Point

Wondering where to start a landscaping project? Begin by evaluating the most prominent features in your yard. This could be a functional piece like a pool, gazebo or furniture, or perhaps something decorative, such as a garden fountain. If you’re lucky enough to have a large tree, take advantage of its natural beauty by making it the centerpiece of your design.

garden fountain

Map Out a Landscape Plan

Creating an outdoor oasis begins with mapping out precisely what you want to do. This crucial step should come before diving in head first. Start by sketching with pen and paper or by using an internet program. Once you have a blueprint, measure and mark it in the space itself. To mark the ground, use chalk, flour or another eco-friendly medium.

Keep in mind the intended purpose of your space when you’re assembling your backyard landscape plans. For instance, if you see yourself using the back porch for outdoor entertaining, draw up a design that can comfortably accommodate guests with seating arrangements, a spacious dining grouping and possibly an outdoor bar. Work out all of the details, from bistro sets to flowerbeds, so that you can visualize the finished product and you know how it will all fit together.

Purchase Necessary Tools

Once you have your DIY landscape planning complete, it’s time to figure out if you have the tools you need to get the job done. Some basic equipment you’ll likely use includes a spade, pitchfork, wheelbarrow, loppers and gloves. Take inventory of what’s in your tool shed or garage and decide if you’ll need to make a trip to the hardware store.

If you’ll require big-ticket items like chainsaws, sod cutters or tillers, you might want to rent them to stay within budget. However, if you’re pursuing DIY as a money-saving tactic, but you lack many of the essential tools, this route may not be right for you. In this case, check with friends, family or neighbors who might loan you the tools you need.

Start with Plants

Flowerbeds are standout features in the best landscaping projects. Some plants, like hedges, bushes and trees, can take quite a while to grow, so you should get these in the ground as early as possible. Of course, you can also add a variety of other flora to your outdoor design. Perennials are a great choice, as they come back every year, eliminating the need to replant. Don’t forget to spruce up porches, patios and decks by adding potted plants.

potted patio plant
hanging baskets with purple flowers

Finalize Your Flowerbeds

After your plants take root you can handle the final cosmetic details such as mulch, decorative rocks and edging. Pricing can vary, so make sure to explore your choices thoroughly before making a decision. For example, cinder blocks are affordable and durable, but they can be utilitarian. Meanwhile stone and brick have a classic look, though they’re more expensive.

Pick Furniture

Polish off your do-it-yourself landscape design with outdoor furnishings. Your patio furniture should complement your new yard and make it feel refined and cohesive. Consider how you need your space to function as you select the perfect pieces to complete your outdoor decor. Some options to look into include:

  • A dining set for sharing meals and hosting guests
  • Comfy seating like a sectional or a cluster of plush chairs to gather and relax
  • A porch bench to create curb appeal in your front yard landscaping plans
  • Umbrellas for some much-needed shade by the pool
patio dining set
circular patio seating set

Finish with Decor

Put the finishing touches on your DIY landscaping with stylish outdoor decor. Dazzling light fixtures like lanterns, sconces and overhead chandeliers have a warm glow that can help cultivate a calming atmosphere in your yard. If you’d like to incorporate a fire pit, avoid the costly process of building one into the patio or deck and increase your layout flexibility by opting for a free-standing model.

Add layers of comfort to your space with a soft outdoor rug and colorful throw pillows. Always look for fabrics and fibers that are resistant to mold, mildew, moisture and fading. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also expand your DIY landscaping project to sewing a few cushions.

patio set staged around a white and blue rug
striped outdoor throw pillows

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to do landscaping on your own, you can dive into a project with confidence. Carefully choosing the focal point, layout and decor will assist you in making the most out of your space and creating your ideal retreat. Once complete, you may even want to share your DIY landscaping ideas with others who want to try out a similar transformation.