Regardless of where you live, how much space you have, and what your experience level is, you can enjoy landscape design with help from the Web. Landscaping is not only fun to plan and implement, but if done well, it can even reduce your energy costs, provide years of comfort and enjoyment, and increase the value of your home. Start planning your landscaping project on the Web by looking through photos for ideas as well as researching specific design principles, features, and types of plants. You’ll find useful blogs and forums for sharing tips and advice, and can even locate a nearby landscaper if the project seems too daunting to tackle on your own.
For most people, the best (or easiest) part of landscaping is imagining the design you want to achieve. Many sites on the Web can help you determine what style you want to create and the design details that work best for your home. Use these resources for inspiration.
- You’ll likely find scores of appealing landscape photos and ideas on the Web, so it may help to organize the sites you like best in a bookmark folder for easy browsing later. Bookmark specific pages or links on a site that take you directly to the pictures or articles you found most helpful.
- Landscaping might just make your life easier. For example, you can create areas that block sunlight and lower your energy costs, or add privacy with trees and shrubs. Make a list of what your needs are so that you can address them specifically as your project gets underway. Keep a list with cutouts and inspiring images to help you prioritize what elements are most important to you when you finally begin your project.
- You might love the look of a traditional English garden, but does it work for your lifestyle? Consider how much time you have for upkeep and maintenance. Remember that you can incorporate individual elements of a few different styles and create one that fits you.
- If you come across a garden magazine that appeals to you, check to see if it has a Web site. Often, you can read archived articles online, and discover photographers or writers that inspire you.
- To spark your imagination, consider visiting a professionally maintained garden in your area. Check with your local chamber of commerce for information about historic homes or parks where blooms are held in high regard.
For landscaping photos and general landscape design inspiration …
Better Homes and Gardens
is a gardening magazine with an expanded online version. In addition to tools and guides to help you plan your project, you’ll find varied topics of interest, such as yard makeovers, and how to best utilize color in a landscape. Photo slide shows are also provided, along with an interactive tour of the company’s test garden.
The Victory Garden
is a PBS television show catering to avid gardeners. For inspiration, visit the “Explore” tab to view visually stunning gardens the show has featured.
The Garden Conservancy
is a national, nonprofit organization working to maintain exceptional gardens in the United States, and to educate the public about the value of gardens. Consult this site to learn about Open Days Programs
, opportunities to explore the organization’s well-maintained gardens up close. Information regarding lectures and workshops can be found on the homepage; and the “preservation projects” tab links to current gardening ventures that should kindle your own design endeavor.
Garden Design Magazine
maintains a cleanly designed and savvy site with plenty of gardening inspiration. Try sections called “Growing”
which include fantastic photos and feature articles, for instance, a recent piece discussed urban nursery design in San Francisco. News and events in the landscape design world are also revealed.
is a magazine full of inventive ways to create unique landscaped looks. You’ll find alternatives to help you decorate small indoor and outdoor spaces, including an attractive water garden. Also discover how to create a private nook in your backyard. Photos accompany each fun tip. Try the “gardening”
section for more inspiration for your yard.
is a landscape design company based in the U.K. Although you can’t employ their services in the United States, you can browse photos of garden makeovers for creative ideas and inspiration.
For landscaping styles …
television network has “Different Styles of Landscaping” in its House and Home section. If you are looking for brief explanations of English, Oriental, Woodland, Formal, Informal, Butterfly, or Xeriscape, this is the place to find them.
is essentially an encyclopedia of landscape design. Consult the Landscape Plans, which feature a new garden style every month. Past plans have included sensory and water-wise gardens. In addition, HGTV shows you how to recreate each design depending on U.S. region.
is a publisher of upscale lifestyle magazines. Here it presents “Fine Gardening,” a source for eclectic style ideas. In its design section, you can learn about unique utilization of stones and pebbles, find out how to incorporate shapes and texture into your landscape, as well as how to create container gardens. Discovering which of these elements you prefer may help you define a landscape style to aim for. Visit the “Plants”
sections for detailed advice on implementing these design suggestions
a site based in Canada, is specifically aimed at gardeners in Northern locations. However, the site has so much information that you’ll find worthwhile gardening advice for any type of climate. This section addresses some fundamental issues such as why we landscape, and it provides information about various styles, including Modern and Bonsai.
noted earlier as a recommended inspiration, can also help you with implementation. It provides a video segment and book list for aspiring landscapers. In the video, you’ll learn about alternative indoor and outdoor landscaping techniques that work with minimal space. The book list is especially suitable for do-it-yourself landscapers, and it includes recommendations from landscape architects and the garden supervisor at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.
has a rudimentary site design (and an aggressive array of centrally located Google ads), but it provides clear, helpful outlines of different garden styles. You’ll find information about classic English gardens, as well as tropical, Tuscan, and Japanese landscapes. Photos are not large, but they provide examples of each style.
Different plants thrive in different environments, and they require varying amounts of water, care, food, and sunlight. Use the following resources to learn which plants will work best in your climate.
- If you’re spending lots of time designing your home or garden to include certain types of plants, be sure that you select plant types that will grow and thrive in the years to come—not those that will wilt or wither after just a few seasons.
- Landscaping projects can be expensive, but if you think ahead, you can use different plants and features to save yourself money in the long run. The U.S. Department of Energy offers advice for energy efficient landscaping.
- Often, greenhouses and landscape supply centers employ master gardeners and experienced landscapers. Try to visit and speak to a knowledgeable staffer for advice that applies directly to your climate and location.
For learning about climate …
represents the National Gardening Association, a nonprofit organization that offers plant-based education. Enter your zip code into this interactive feature for tips on what grows best in your climate and how to best make your garden grow. The site also helps you locate public gardens in your area and notifies you of gardening events happening near you.
For specific landscaping plants and features …
Derek Fell’s Garden Photo Library
is an outstanding resource for viewing flowers and plants. Browse categories, including annuals, trees, orchids, cacti, and many more. Photos include name and type, for example perennial Stapelia grandiflora starfish flower succulent.
also provides plant finders to help you decide what to use in your landscape design. Search by USDA zone, or by various qualities, including color and season of bloom. Your search results will give detailed characteristics and photos of each plant.
offers this Info Zone, with articles to help you incorporate various plants and features into your landscape design. Search for articles on specific topics or landscape features of interest. You’ll find a good variety of information and photos that detail specific types of plants and vines, along with user forums with first-hand user advice.
offers a section of articles about using grasses in your landscape design. The section also has a few articles about other features, such as moss, herbs, and creating walkways.
For landscaping features to increase the value of your home …
offers seven landscaping tips and features that may help increase the value of your home. Advice is directed toward those who plan to sell their home within a year, and want to make quick, relatively easy improvements. You’ll also find tips to make lasting changes that will appreciate over time, such as creating angles and privacy with trees.
To use the best of the best plants …
The U.S. National Arboretum
explains how plant awards and recommendations are determined, and discusses how to incorporate winning plants into your landscape. You can link to a list of the Arboretum’s own “Gold Medal Plants,” or browse the list of links to regional award sites, such as “Urban Tree of the Year.”
Now that you have an idea of what landscape design you’d like and which plants you’d like to include into your project, you can begin to develop your landscaping plan. Use these sites to familiarize yourself with some basic design principles. You’ll also find step-by-step, professional advice to help you do it yourself. In addition, this section of the guide includes resources for finding a professional landscaper.
- Texas A&M University publishes “Horticulture Update,” which featured the winter 2002 article “Planning the Landscape.” Horticulturalist Dan Gill provides a step-by-step process for designing your landscape.
- Also, Portland Community College professor and author of “The Art of Home Gardening,” Rod Smith, offers his take on the landscape design process.
- Even if you are prepared to do much of the physical work on your own, you still might consider having a landscape architect or designer draw up plans and create a gardening schedule for you. You can purchase your plants and put them in the ground yourself to save money, but you’ll have some professional oversight to guide you. This is an especially good idea for first-time DIY landscapers.
- If you don’t want to pay for a landscaper, there are plenty of ways to get professional advice for free. For example, many gardening and landscaping sites encourage users to email them for advice. At www.northscaping.com, for example, forum questions are answered by the company’s expert landscaping staff.
For practical design advice …
Gardeners Supply Company
is a Vermont-based supply store, which hosts seminars and special events led by real gardeners. This how-to article, “Garden Design: Create Your Dream Garden,” is geared to beginners. In it, you’ll learn about site plans and design basics, such as flow and scale.
is mentioned throughout this guide. The site focuses on gardening and landscaping in cool, Northern climates, but it also provides general advice. In this chapter, the emphasis is on basic landscaping principles. You’ll learn how to create harmony in your landscape, and how to use texture to add emphasis to an area. Scroll down to read about professional techniques.
provides gardening information, including a section on color. Warm and cool colors, as well as complementary shades, the color wheel, and how to use foliage to achieve a certain color scheme are all discussed. Photo examples can be enlarged for a better view of each topic. It also has a map
that helps you determine your “hardiness zone” so you can determine which plants will survive winter in your area.
The University of Florida
covers the basic principles of landscape design, which are intended for commercial landscapers with little or no training, but are applicable to homeowners as well. The article can be somewhat technical, at times using sketches and numeric measurements to discuss elements of art and design. This site teaches you the basics of color, line, and form, as well as steps to take in developing your landscape design.
For planning philosophies …
designer Steve Boulden offers a clear rundown of basic design principles, such as unity, simplicity, and balance. Boulden encourages the do-it-yourselfers to learn at least some basics before undertaking a design project.
The Helpful Gardener
is a site based in San Francisco with articles by writers around the world. Connecticut Master Gardener Scott Reil discusses “The Basics of Landscape Design,” outlining factors to consider when planning your garden, such as functionality, the people who will be in your garden, the style of your home, etc.
For information about landscape professionals …
discusses whether or not you should hire a professional landscaper. Advice here is basic, and a good starting point. See the list of considerations to make, such as your level of talent, and questions of safety and time. A list of steps to follow
when hiring a landscaper is also provided, and assumes that you’ll be drawing up your own plans first, and then discussing them with contractor candidates. Scroll down for tips and warnings, as well as comments with further insight and advice.
features videos and articles about landscape design, addressing the question of whether to do the work yourself, or hire a designer. Articles are written by a professional landscaper, and they convey a strong knowledge of the industry along with friendly, candid advice.
offers advice for choosing a landscape contractor. The article advises on investigating a company, performing reference checks, obtaining guarantees of products and services, and how much insurance might cover. Guidelines to use in your selection are also given, including scope of project.
For multimedia and landscape design programs …
is a multimedia gardening resource from The Ohio State University, recently recognized by Forbes.com
for being both friendly and cutting edge. Consult “PlantFacts,” for how-to videos, photos, information, and a powerful search engine; and “Pocket Gardener” for resources designed for Pocket PC and Palm PDA users. Everything on the site is provided at no cost.
The New York Times
is a source for articles about landscape design, including computer programs. The site reveals landscaping professionals’ recommended software , along with designers’ reasons for using each program. A second article
tells of a gardening novice’s experience with one such program developed by Better Homes and Gardens.
Blogs and forums offer a full gamut of candid advice and information: you’ll find those that enjoy landscaping as a hobby along with professionals. Use these sites for firsthand advice from real gardeners.
- To find blogs on specific topics (say, water gardening), use a blog search engine such as Technorati or BlogPulse.
- Gardening and landscaping are quite popular on the Web, and you’ll notice that many forums are busy and full of entries. If you have a question about something, consider posing it in a forum, as well as to your local greenhouse or garden-center staff to get a broad range of opinions.
- If you’re new to the world of blogs, visit findingDulcinea’s Guide to Blogs for the inside scoop on how to find them, what they offer, and how to start your own.
is provided by iVillage. The site has an impressive collection of forums. In the newest addition, Garden Voices,
you’ll find blog highlights and garden news from around the Web. In Garden Web Forums, you’ll find discussions separated into categories, such as topic and plant name. You can also connect to others for seed and plant trading and exchanges.
maintains several different forums related to landscaping and gardening. You’ll find information about specialty gardens, flowers, and structural features. Within each forum, you can read questions posed by users, with answers provided by Northscaping’s landscape professionals.
includes a photo forum in which users post collections of high-quality, colorful photographs of their gardens and landscaping projects. You can register and post comments, as well. In addition, you’ll find a Q&A section
garnered by users. Scroll down for specific forums, including one for beginner landscapers.
The Helpful Gardener
noted earlier in this guide for his gardening philosophies, provides a forum for garden and landscape enthusiasts. You’ll need to register to post questions and comments, but anyone can read past discussions for possible tips and ideas.
The Landscape Design Site
is the blog of professional landscaper Steve Boulden. He discusses projects and garden features, gives advice, and shares frustrations. Recent posts included guidance for choosing a contractor, and tips for creating curb appeal.
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