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Looking for a landscaping idea? Need help with your landscape design? Don't be overwhelmed. It's really pretty simple - it's just decoration outdoors. The key is to create settings of plants and flowers to enhance or hide the architecture of buildings and structures. Taller elements to the back and diminishing in height coming forward.

Spend a little time at a local plant nursery and become familiar with the type of plants that do well in your particular area. Visit model homes to see how they use these plants to create plant groupings and dimension within the yards. Notice the mixture of ground cover, plants, flowers, shrubs and trees.

Create a list of the major elements that exist or will be added to the yard. Pools, spas, water features, gardens, birdbaths, fireplaces, conversation pits, barbecues, decks, patios, sitting areas or any other item of interest should be on the list. Next, measure the yard and draw a plan on the yard with appropriate measurements indicated on the plan. You can now begin to make notes indicating where you want items to be located on the plan. If you are going to include a built in spa or pool, your pool company can be helpful in planning for water, power and pool equipment. Once you have their input, complete your plan to add your other items of interest.

With this plan one can now determine watering needs for plants, trees, gardens and feeds to water features. Make sure you consider the grade and drainage for the entire landscaped area so that heavy rains won't wipe out flowers and gardens or flood sitting areas. A natural drainage contour can be built into the landscaping that collects water and directs it to the desired drainage spot.

Electrical requirements can now be defined for lighting, pumps, outlets, switches and accessories.

Begin the process by trenching for water and electrical. Sprinkler and drip-system lines should be completed and tested before filling in the trenches. Once all plumbing elements are functioning properly, fill in the trenches and begin defining planters, gardens and lawns with edging - of which you have many choices.

Soil should be prepared in each planting area, based on requirements for the items to be planted. See your local garden center for soil enhancement recommendations. Also consider seasonal plantings if appropriate.

Plant, water and fertilize as recommended for your specific plantings.

Or, Hire a Professional Landscaper

If you don't have the proverbial green thumb, you may prefer to hire a local landscape expert to do the work for you. They can discuss your ideas, wishes and dreams and incorporate them into a landscaping plan for your approval.

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