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Starting from Scratch: Plan an Outdoor Space in Stages

Landscaping sets the stage for your home and lifestyle, reflecting your personality while adding valuable curb appeal. But rarely can you plan a garden in one simple step.

Starting from Scratch: Plan an Outdoor Space in Stages

Small gardens grow over time as plants become established and new details are added to your space. Whether professionally installed or planted by hand, step-by-step gardening allows for optimal attention to detail, and helps break up the cost over time.

Evaluate Drainage

Evaluate Drainage

Working in stages is not only more affordable, but it also helps you set priorities and makes it easier to break up and prioritize tasks. Start by evaluating your space for proper drainage. If you have any standing water after a rainfall, consider these options:

  • Alleviate small puddles by installing a drain field, which is a layer of gravel hidden beneath the surface that serves as a waiting room for the water until it's absorbed into the soil.
  • If your entire yard is drowning, a more sophisticated drainage system linking drain fields with corrugated pipe may be necessary.
  • If there is a significant elevation change on your property that could lead to erosion, dry creek beds made of rock and pebbles is both attractive and functional.
Install Irrigation

Install Irrigation

Irrigation, which is typically installed before plants and trees, can be adjusted and expanded along with your landscape. But if you install any expanse of paved surface before you install irrigation and plant material, you may want to lay a few sleeves of pipe beneath the pavers. The sleeves give you options for underground piping so you don't have to rip up your new flagstone to put in a sprinkler head later on.
Plant landscaping

Plant landscaping

The next step is to determine the sequence of your landscaping projects, considering how each phase will affect the next. For example, it may be important or cost effective for you to have a stone paver patio with a lush menagerie of shrubs, perennials and annuals in your landscape right away. But if you are thinking of installing a deck in the future, a good portion of those plants and pavers may be removed or damaged by equipment needed to dig up soil and rock. If that's the case, you may want to install these before you begin any hard landscaping, so you don't lose time and money replacing plants and turf.
Add patios and paths

Add patios and paths

Just about any blank space can be turned into an outdoor room for private conversation, child's play, or into functional spaces for herbs, vegetables and cutting gardens. Pavers are affordable and easy to install; plus it's simple to add more later on if you want to expand your space.
Create focal points

Create focal points

When you're ready to implement the landscape portion of your design, start by installing focal points such as trees and other significant vertical elements such as a gazebo or pergola. Patio furniture also makes a great a focal point and a place to relax and enjoy your garden. With the bones of your garden in place, you can easily fill in beds with shrubs and other plant material over time.
Think ahead for next year

Think ahead for next year

Depending on your budget, you can leave space for future projects through the use of a variety of materials.

  • Thinking of putting in a garden pond next summer? Sod will hold its place until the time comes.
  • You can also start a Lawn from Seed using a variety of premium turf building products.
  • Want an outdoor kitchen by the pool? Go ahead and lay the stone pavers and enjoy that space with a conversation set or a dining set, and a few potted plants for now.

With the right plan, a garden will come together in no time, and you'll be able to enjoy its beauty - and the return on your investment - for years to come.

Instant gratification projects

Instant gratification projects

If your garden needs a little pop and you're ready for a weekend project, consider the following quick-and-easy options:

Start a container garden
Fill patio corners or create a poolside cluster using pots of different sizes and shapes. Plant each container with a variety of plants, including a centrepiece for height, annuals for colour and trailing vines for added interest.

Build an arbour
An arbour is an easy way to add interest to a front walkway or garden path. Choose a material such as wrought iron or wood that complements your home, then plant a combination of annual and perennial climbing vines on either side.

Define a space with mulch or gravel
If your lawn furniture or children's playground seems to be floating in the grass, consider adding an affordable bed using marble chips, pea pebbles or mulch, all of which can stand up to heavy foot traffic. You can also lay a soft path leading to the defined area using the same material.

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