Horticulture News: Well-planned outdoor spaces can be like adding on a room

By Kim Cowherd, Published:

Everyone enjoys a nice, well designed space inside his or her home to live, play and work. We enjoy rooms that are well coordinated and flow well, have interesting wall hangings and art, conveniences we enjoy, favorite pieces of furniture, and pleasing colors and textures.

Our outdoor space can become more enjoyable if you consider your lawn and garden as an extension to the rooms inside your house. Landscaping combines the elements of art and science to create functional, aesthetically pleasing, living spaces in the outdoors. Think of it as creating rooms outside, just as you have rooms inside.

There are some basic steps to consider in designing your home landscape.

First, draw a plot plan. This can be as simple as a box or rectangle on a piece of paper. Graph paper is helpful to get the proper scale of your home or area you wish to landscape. Be sure to place a mark on the house outline to indicate the locations of windows, doors, air conditioning units, water spigots and other utilities on the building or attached to the building where plants would need special consideration.

Include sidewalks, driveways, pools and other permanent fixtures on your property. Make several copies of this, as this will be your basic outline for the landscape design process.

Second, conduct a site analysis. Take note of places where water stands, where there is shade and where there is full sun. Is there a certain area where the grass doesn’t grow well? Also be sure to look up, to take note of overhead wires, gutters or outdoor lights. Find out what is under the ground that might be damaged when planting trees, installing a sidewalk, or even digging a new garden.

Simply call BUD – Before U (you) Dig by dialing 811 from any telephone. All relevant companies will come to your location and mark underground utilities and lines for free. This is a critical step whether you are digging or you have a contractor doing the work.

Third, assess your family’s needs and wants for using the outdoor space.

Do you have a dog that needs a fenced area? Your children or grandchildren will need a place to play. This is the chance to finally put in place that fountain and sitting area you always wanted. Do you want to try to start a vegetable garden? Don’t forget to include a place for that new grill! Consider these as your “rooms” where you will live, work and play in your outdoor home.

Fourth, using the information you have gathered, draw in the areas where your “rooms” will best fit, taking everything into consideration. You may need to make several revisions and go outside and envision how this location will actually work for you.

Finally, choose and place the plants and accessories for your new landscape. When choosing plants, consider the sun and shade, soils, water needs, planting zone requirements and mature size. Think about matching colors of blooms and shades and textures of foliage. Consider how much time and effort you want to put into maintaining your new plants. Remember to bring colors of your interior rooms to that of your new outside “rooms.”

By planning and thinking through your lawn and garden needs, wants and spaces, you can create wonderful “rooms” of your own right in your own backyard.

If you are interested in learning more about basic landscape design, be sure to attend the Gardener’s Toolbox class, “A Room of Your Own-Landscape Design Basics.” Learn the nuts and bolts of how to plan your own home landscape design.  Bring measurements and pictures of an area you want to plan.  This free class will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Franklin County Extension Office, 101 Lakeview Ct.

For additional home gardening, lawn and landscape questions, contact the Franklin County Extension Office, 695-9035, or email DL_CES_FRANKLIN@EMAIL.UKY.EDU.

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