A good landscape plan has four important ingredients; function, maintenance, cost, and visual impact (in that order). Most folks tend to pay close attention to maintenance and cost and very little attention to other factors.
So let’s begin at the top – Adding Functionality to the Landscape
Ask yourself why you want to landscape your property because the answer to this all important question has ramifications on the other ingredients to landscaping. Your answer needs to be clear and precise.
You need to understand that a landscape is a part of your house – correction, it is an extension of your house but without the roof. In that sense it has to be highly functional with pathways, driveways, gutters, play areas and so on. Do your kids like to bounce a ball around? Do you have kids that love to cycle all day? Does your daughter love the Jacuzzi or maybe the trampoline? Therefore think functionality – you will need to factor in all these things.
Your landscape might look beautiful on paper but if it clashes with the functioning of your family members you could have major problems ahead. Similarly if you have pets especially dogs, your shrubs could be in trouble. This is not to say you can’t have shrubs – just that it needs to be planned carefully and in some detail.
An important aspect of functionality is to ensure that every square inch of your landscape is visible – preferably from the kitchen so that mom can keep an eye on the kids and also ensure the dog doesn’t bother the Pizza delivery boy or the postman.
Understanding Landscape Maintenance
An elaborate landscape covering a very large area of land will also by extension require extensive maintenance especially if your landscape includes large trees. So while planning your landscape factor in the time that would be required to maintain the property and whether you can maintain it yourself or will need to hire help.
Shrubs will require trimming, fertilizers, mulching, watering, pest control and so on. Also, anything incorporated into the lawn area (benches, slides, swings) increases maintenance time. Fortunately you can also hire a weekly gardening service to perform all duties.
Your maintenance time and effort may increase or decrease depending on how well the drainage works. Bad or improperly installed drains can cause major maintenance headaches.
Costing for your Landscape
Once you’ve factored in the functionality and maintenance, calculating the cost of your landscape is easier. Unless you are an expert at it, it would be best to hire a landscape professional. Most will be happy to look at your plans, hear you out and provide a free quote for job.
Visualizing your landscape
Take a few pictures of your property and print them out in a large (A4) format. Visualize your landscape. You already know the cost of your plans. Draw a sketch of your landscape directly on the picture you’ve printed taking care to work everything in. Once you have got everything in, visit a draftsman and have him convert your plans into an engineering design that makes sense to a foreman.
If you are hiring an Austin landscape contractor he would probably be happy to go over your draft plans, formalize and execute it for you.