Gardening and Real Estate

A friend of mine recently moved into their first home, an older one, this past winter. One morning after a recent thaw I was looking out her back window and commented on certain things she had growing in her gardens. I think then and there I sealed my fate as her personal consultant for the upcoming year. She and her husband know very little about gardening so they hadn’t a clue what was in each bed or even how to start.

This made me wonder if many other people also had this problem. When buying an older, established home people are usually sold on the layout and design of the interior and can usually get a floor plan containing room dimensions and placement in the home. Somewhere in all that consideration the exterior gets ignored. Hard structures like fences, decks and walkways are obvious but what about what kind of trees and shrubs are there and what plants are in the flowerbeds. Even a moderate gardener can feel daunted when trying to figure out what is what. I can only imagine how a beginner would feel. I think Real estate agents could do a great service to their customers by providing basic landscape designs to the new owners.

Luckily my friend is still friendly with the previous owner so she has a reference point. But not everyone is that lucky.


Has anyone had similar problems?

My friend had the wonderful surprise of all these bulbs in her ?Ç£mystery gardens?Ç¥.

Landscape Design

Now that the ground is blanketed in snow and the air cold it’s a great time to try your hand at a little landscape design.

This can be a very personal endeavor where creativity can flow and experiments can be tried. You can easily look at books and “borrow” designs that have caught your eye or you can put pencil to paper and design your own. It’s very satisfying to walk through your garden and take full credit for the enjoyment it brings. Great landscaping lies in the eyes of the one who created it.

Perennial Garden 1

The Principles of Landscape Design

Keep in mind that these are not rules. They are simply guidelines to increase your ideas and creativity.

Simplicity – As with any new activities or hobbies it’s always best to keep things simple. Choose one theme (i.e. Chinese gardening) and 2 or 3 colors you want repeated throughout the garden.

Unity – By picking one theme you have already begun creating a unified look through the garden. Unity also refers to height, size, texture, etc. For example if you were creating a garden to attract hummingbirds you would consider adding feeders and ornaments relating to that one theme.

Repetition – Repeating plantings and colors will give the garden a less cluttered look.

Balance- There are two types of balance; symmetrical and asymmetrical. The easiest to achieve is symmetrical where if the garden were split in two both sides would appear the same. Asymmetrical balance is the opposite. An example of this would be a large ornamental tree on one end of the garden and lower shrubs and flowers taking up the bulk of the other end.

Proportion- This refers to the size of the elements in relation to each other. Placing a giant rock in the middle of a small flowerbed doesn’t make much sense.

Color – Here is where you can really create something visually outstanding. Using bright colors like red, orange and yellow you create a sense of excitement while combining blues and green causes a more calming affect. This includes the color of foliage, which can be used just as effectively.

Spring Bulb Display

Spring Bulb Display

Natural Transition– Transition can be achieved by ascending or descending groupings of elements with different textures, forms, sizes or colors. This also helps create illusions. For example create depth by planting taller plants behind shorter ones.

Now that you understand the basic principles why not play around with a few ideas you’ve though up. Quickly sketch out your design area. Let’s start small and work on one individual flowerbed. Once you get use to applying these principles you can go bigger and plan out large spaces. You don’t want to worry about sizes and types of plants right away, just plot out existing features such as shed, fences, pathways etc. Draw the shape of the garden you wish to design. This method is called a bubble graph. Is it in the middle of your yard or the fence line? Don’t forget to mark these features in.

Decide on your theme. A cutting garden? Trees and shrubs? A shade garden? Add groupings of plants according to size, color etc. Again don’t worry about specifics, just get an idea of what you want to see. This is where your creativity starts and you may find that you are drawing multiple plans.

Once you have a final design then browse the Internet, books and magazines and decide what plants you want to grow. Ask friends what has worked for them. Remember to keep in mind height, width, texture and form when selecting your plants. A few well-selected plants can have more effect than a lot of individual species. Once you have decided on your plants draw a new bubble graph this time adding in the varieties you have chosen. Voila!!! Your first landscape design!


Don’t forget that nothing is permanent. Gardens always change and evolve as will your design. So experiment, take a chance and have fun!