This Is the Secret to Planning the Yard of Your Dreams

Great landscaping ideas are nothing without a plan for making them happen.

Landcaping ideas - a backyard with a garden, path, and fountain
Photo: Liyao Xie/Getty Images

Dreaming of high-end landscape design ideas and luxurious outdoor spaces is one thing—making these landscaping ideas happen is another. Even if there's a substantial budget that can go toward landscaping ideas (adding a pool isn't cheap), it can be tricky coordinating installation and construction so they don't make spending spring and summer days outdoors difficult.

This is why the experts at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) suggest getting ahead on spring landscaping ideas and updates.

"Early spring is a great time of year to start envisioning how you want to enjoy your landscape in the coming months," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs at NALP. "If you are looking at making any larger investments in your property—the installation of a patio, a fire feature, an outdoor kitchen, outdoor lighting—late winter and early spring would be a good time to talk with landscape professionals about the enhancements you'd like to make to your space."

Deciding to build an outdoor kitchen, gazebo, or other outdoor structure in May means construction will last through some of the best days of late spring and summer, and the new feature can't be enjoyed for the majority of the season. Most major landscaping projects can be completed within a few months, Henriksen says, but it's important to get on a contractor or landscape expert's calendar well in advance to avoid missing out.

"Even though you may decide when the weather warms, that you'd like to be outside on a patio, a lot of planning that goes into that space," Henriksen says.

Part of that planning should include looking at the big picture. Henriksen says people should consider how they want their outdoor spaces to grow with their families and what a completed backyard might look like, even if it's not possible at that moment.

The best backyards take years of work, with landscaping ideas and installations building on eachother over time—focusing on short-term upgrades can make bigger-scale projects in the future more difficult. The key to a smooth process is to plan every step, even if that means planning years in advance.

"You may decide that at some point in time, you'd like to put in an outdoor kitchen, but you may not want to budget for that right now," Henriksen says. "Instead, you want to put in a patio now. Knowing that your long-term objective includes a kitchen, it would be smart to get gas lines installed for cooking under your patio before you put the patio in. Plan for what your vision is down the road so you can incorporate things as that landscape is being developed."

Working with a contractor to develop that plan can make the whole process, from start to finish, more efficient and less stressful. It also means homeowners can enjoy their outdoor spaces immediately, even if it's a small upgrade, by taking baby steps toward a larger landscape goal. The alternative—waiting years to save enough to implement several landscaping ideas at once—can prevent people from enjoying their yards.

The key to getting started is to put together a list of landscaping ideas, then meeting with a contractor to figure out where to start. If the first project can happen this year, make that meeting happen sooner rather than later and watch those landscaping dreams come to life.

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