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Evaluate Your 360 Garden Needs

Evaluate Your 360 Garden Needs

Whether starting a garden from scratch or renovating one you need to ask some important questions.

  1. How do you intend to use the space?
  2. What’s your budget?

For older gardens you need a critical, objective eye to determine what can be kept and what should be eliminated altogether. Sometimes standing on the other side of the street will give you the best perspective for evaluating the front as others might see it.

Ask yourself the following questions to help in the decision-making process:

Front Garden

  • Does your driveway need repair or replacement? Asphalt is the most practical and inexpensive, followed by interlock and pressed concrete. Aim to colour co-ordinate the latter two choices with the architecture.
  • Does your driveway need to be widened so you don’t step out of a vehicle right onto grass? If so, consider adding borders of interlock or natural stone on both sides. If you can’t match the material exactly to the existing driveway, create a contrast.

interlocking stone driveway

  • Is the walkway wide enough for two people to walk side by side? Do you want to keep the narrow bed along the garage wall or eliminate it completely? Do you prefer straight, curving, or zigzag lines for your walk?
  • Do you want a small seating area or garden bench at the front?
  • Do you need more privacy because you’re on a corner property? Do you need to discourage pedestrians from walking across your lawn?
  • Do you need to disguise a hydro or telephone box?
  • Do you want a planting across your front foundation?
    • If so, do you have a significant overhang that makes the soil there rock hard and dry?
    • Do you want to start a planting in front of the overhang and cover the dry zone with black landscape fabric and gravel or riverbed stone?
  • Have you measured the height of your windows so plant material won’t block it?
  • Is 50% or more of the plant material evergreen for winter interest?
  • Do you want fragrance in some of your plant material?
  • Do you have room for a specimen shade tree or evergreen on your lawn? Bear in mind its mature diameter and the shade it may cast.
  • Can you plant on the other side of the driveway so there’s a visual link to the major beds?
  • Is your lawn area so small it could be eliminated altogether? You could replace it with assorted low maintenance plants, riverbed stone, pea gravel and garden rocks?
  • Do you want night lighting?
  • Do you have room for beautiful containers or urns that can be planted with colourful annuals?

Back Garden

  • Do you need a fence or should the existing one be replaced to create more privacy? Do you know the building code for fences in your area?garden fence wrought iron
  • Are you thinking about a swimming pool? If so, install it first. Putting in a pool 5 years later may damage much of what’s already there. Also, consider regulations regarding mandatory fencing over a certain height.
  • Do you want a pressure treated wood or cedar deck or an interlock or natural stone patio? Are your dimensions large enough to accommodate your garden furniture and entertain family and friends comfortably?
  • Do you want a hot tub that should be included with the deck?
  • Do you need to shade your deck with a tree, retractable awning, large umbrella, or pergola built overtop?
  • Do you need privacy on the deck (with lattice privacy screens on the sides) and/or along fence or property lines?
  • Do you need a play area for children? If so, make it close to the house so you can watch from a kitchen or family room window with an unimpeded view.
  • Do you want a vegetable garden that might include herbs? If so, it has to be situated to receive the most sun.
  • Do you want fruit trees?

cherries

  • Do you want flowering plant material that bloom from April to October?
  • Is fragrance important to you?
  • Do you want a feature like a gazebo, arbour, or water garden?
  • From inside the house looking out, do you want winter interest in your garden?
  • Do existing beds need to be enlarged or linked together for a sense of unity? Or do they just need to be reshaped
  • Where will you put a garden shed and/or a composter?
  • Do you want to attract birds, butterflies, and/or hummingbirds to your back garden?

Side Gardens

  • Do you have a narrow strip on either side of your house that’s in shade most of the day?
  • Is grass struggling to survive? If so, replace it with a random path of concrete patio stones or flagstone set in decorative gravel or a shade-tolerant ground cover.
  • Is there easy access to an air conditioning unit?
  • Is this a good space to store firewood or a composter?

When you’ve decided what needs to be done on your property, your next big decision will be whether to hire a landscape contractor to carry out some or all of the work or whether you’ll do it yourself. However you accomplish your vision, remember it adds great value to your home and a personal escape from the stress and pressures of day-to-day living.