Whether you want to completely overhaul your landscaping or just make a few additions, there are a few fundamentals to consider when designing a backyard oasis.
At J&S Landscape in Boulder, we walk our clients through these basics, helping them bring their vision to life. With our many years of experience, we’re able to unite beauty with function, needs with budget.
If you are considering a project, we would love to help. In the meanwhile, take a look at this quick guide for inspiration and first steps to create a backyard (or front) retreat that you love.
Consider Budget for Installation and Maintenance
When designing a backyard oasis, you should not only consider the initial pricing but determine the cost of upkeep and maintenance. If you plan to care for the yard yourself, consider how much time would be required and how valuable that time is to you. If you plan to hire professionals for maintenance, what cost fits comfortably in your budget? Your best bet is to bring in a company such as J&S Landscaping to help you design a landscape with maintenance needs suitable for your long-term budget.
Understand What Works Best in Your Environment
Before you ever select plants, you should consider several important items and make a plan. One of the most important considerations is soil. Your soil determines a great deal about what plants will work in your landscape design. If your soil is sandy, your plant choices may be dramatically different from your neighbor who has silt soil in his backyard.
Additionally, you should consider climate, your landscape’s topography, as well as your yard’s microclimate. The microclimate of your yard can fall into four general categories: full sun, partial sun, shade, or deep shade. Topography, on the other hand, takes into consideration how water moves along your landscape as well as how it drains and where the water tends to pool.
Think about Function
If your yard is going to be used mostly by your children, your landscape design will be very different than if the space is used mostly for entertaining guests. This type of consideration when designing a backyard oasis may dictate how walkways may or may not be used to move people from one area to another, or how you divide your space – bigger deck for entertaining versus more green space for the kids.
Use a Theme
For landscape design ideas and considerations, choosing a theme can be a very good way to guide your selections for materials and plants. For example, if you think you want your landscape space to be used for quiet contemplation, you may consider a relaxation garden, such as a Zen garden. This type of theme would determine everything from shapes and colors used, to what style of water feature to install. Themes are useful for creating a cohesive landscape.
Create Spaces and Join Them
Sometimes when you are designing a landscape, it is useful to think of your yard as though it is a house with rooms. Much like the rooms in your house are connected together, you can create “rooms” or spaces in your yard and link your spaces by using “hallways” or an open plan so that people will move from one outdoor room to another. Thinking about ways to invite people to use and enjoy your outdoor spaces will help you make choices about how to design it.
Use Your Plants Wisely
When it comes to designing a backyard oasis, it’s important to determine how plants will be featured and function in your landscaping. Do you want flowers or fruits? Scenery or aromas? Maybe you want a combination of a few or all of these. Think about the function of your potential plants. Will you use them as barriers? Maybe you prefer native landscapes that reflect the beauty of Colorado. If you have water features, you may want plants to highlight or spotlight such features. A landscaping professional, such as the ones we have at J&S Landscape, can help you with such considerations.
Highlight Special Areas
If you have a particular area of your landscape that you want to highlight, such as a cozy outdoor seating area with a fireplace or a bubbling spa, you may want to choose unique plants, either in color or shape, to help draw people to that spot. Contrasting plants in shape and texture can help highlight special areas of your landscape.
Plant Using Planes
In addition to highlighting special areas and choosing specific plants to use, your landscape design ideas and considerations should include the visual planes when people look out at your outdoor space—both horizontal and vertical. Remember to look up to fully envision what things will look like overhead.
Will you have archways or trees? How will your plantings help create shade? Do you even want shade? Be sure to stagger your plants so that they have space to grow and also so that they fill your landscape appropriately. It is useful to layer plants so that tall plants are behind shorter plants to ensure that nothing is obscured unless you want it to be.
Help Protect Your Resources
When designing a backyard oasis, it is important to take your environment into consideration. Choosing plants and hardscapes that are environmentally sound helps you to become a good steward of your surroundings. Being resource conscious can help steer your choices. Also, consider what of your existing landscape can be used. This can help keep native and often perennial plants in your garden. Finding plants that will not require heavy water, fertilizers, or pesticides are useful considerations to keep in mind. Such considerations can help your local pollinators (bees and other insects) and can protect your local water resources.
Remember the Future
It is always unfortunate when a tree or shrub is planted without consideration to its eventual size or shape. When you plant, think of your growing conditions. Will your plant have the type of conditions that will help it achieve its optimal size? Will its eventual size become a problem? The more thought you give to the future, the easier your long-term landscape maintenance will be.
If all this landscape planning seems a little overwhelming or if you would appreciate using a professional to help you better envision a landscape plan for your home in Boulder, Longmont, Fort Collins or the surrounding areas, give us a call at J&S Landscape. We can help you with designing a backyard oasis that you can enjoy for years to come.