Hey Y’all! This post has been in the making for a while! The end of the school year is always so crazy busy! But I’m not here for excuses, I’m here to share what I know about landscape! Which isn’t too much, but I’ve learned a few things over the years about deciding what to plant, how to design landscape, and ways to save money. I included this post under the categories Lifestyle and Building101 since this topic applies to both areas!
Let me start off by saying that we did not include our irrigation system and landscaping into our loan. We decided that we would rather do these things ourselves and put that saved money into the house design. So we moved in to a house with no trees, and a lot of mud! You can see the pretty house surrounded by dirt and weeds below. 🙂 We waited about 4 months or so before we decided to hire a local business to do the irrigation system first. Before they put in the water lines and sprinkler heads, they needed a general layout of the landscape design so they knew where to place things. So our the first part of this post will cover how to go about designing your landscape!
Designing Your Landscape
When you start to design you landscape, or really anything, first thing you have to do is research. You can find ideas on Google, Pinterest, Blogs, Instagram, and even looking at houses around your town. Getting ideas from other people is were your inspiration spark comes from! Once you see something you love, then screenshot, save, or take a photo of it so you can reference back to it when you start drawing it out!
Once you have collected your own inspiration, the next step of designing, is to create some sketches on paper, or a computer app if you have something that will work for this. Here’s what I did, I took a copy of our house plans and traced the perimeter of our entire home (driveway, and patios included) onto a piece of blank copy paper. I did this a couple of times because I had a couple ideas I wanted to draw out and see which one we liked best.
Once you have your perimeter of your house traced, you can start sketching ideas on how you want to wrap your landscaping around your home. Do you want it just in the front elevation? Do you want it to go on the sides? How about some spots in the backyard? Are you going to plant trees and put edging and mulch around them? Where do you want those to go? Do you want your edging to be curved and flow, or do you want the more modern look with straight edges? There are lots of questions to consider when designing.
What We Did for our Landscape
I decided to do a mix of curved edging and straight edging. The front of our home has curved edging around the front elevation. The curve straightens off to a straight edge along the side of the house with the garage. The other side of the house has a large curved out area because of the septic system. Jeremy didn’t want to have to worry about mowing and weeding around that area, so we included in the landscape for that reason and so we could plant plants around it to hide it. The back elevation has curved edges except were we extended the patio concrete pad out. We have straight edging with 90 degree corners to frame that space nicely.
When designing your landscape, also think about the process of upkeep. If making an area have small curves or corners makes mowing or weeding harder, then choose to do something different in that space. It is recommended to have a minimum of 4 ft. of landscape area from the distance of the house to the edging. This is allow plants to have room to grow, and you can layer the plants. You don’t want the plants to grow too close to the house, this can speed up the wear and tear process of your exterior.
Another thing we did before we started was we made our drains into french drains. You can see these black flex pipes that pop out of the ground. This is because those pipes connect to our downspout gutters, so the water doesn’t flood the landscaping area, and the puddles stay away from the foundation area. We eventually cut those black pipes, and put drain lids on top of them. They are flush with the grass now, and you can’t even see them!
What to Buy for your Landscape Areas
The number one thing to make sure you look into for plants is finding out what zone you live in. Finding out the correct plant hardiness zone will allow your plants to flourish and be as healthy as possible! It also saves you money, because you’re plants will most likely not die due to weather conditions. You can find your plant hardiness zone here on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map! Once you are there, you can simply locate your area to find out what zone you are in. I am in zone 8A! Then you can research what plants are best in your zone. This helps you narrow down what plants you have to choose from, and it helps you know which plants are right for your landscaping!
If you are a local Texan in my area, or are located in a Zone 8a, then here is a list of plants that seem to do really well for us!
- Ligustrums A.K.A Sunshine plant (these are the very bright yellow green shrubs around our home!)
- Crepe Myrtle
- Kaleidoscope Abelia (this shrub changes colors throughout the year, and has small white blooms on it during summer)
- Texas Sage (This can get very large, has a lighter green color to it, and small purple flowers)
- Mexican Heather (small shrub with purple flowers on it all through spring and summer)
- Hydrangeas (these do well in areas that only get morning sun for about 4 -6 hours. Any more that than, or afternoon heat will burn the leaves, and flowers will not bloom. I had to transplant one of mine to a different location this year because it was getting too much sun. It is now blooming like crazy and none of the leaves are burnt!)
- Fountain Grass
There are several different ways you can edge your landscaping. You can chose the metal edging, stone, brick, wood, cement blocks, or even no edging. We chose to do the black metal edging, for a few reasons, one because it matched the house, and two because it’s definitely a cheaper option that doesn’t have maintenance. It’s easy to flex and flow for how you want your landscape designed to be laid out.
Tip: Use spray paint to outline where you want the edging to go to help you get a better visual of how the landscape design will flow with the exterior elevation of your house.
Weed Barrier and Mulch
Weed barriers aren’t necessary, but they are great to have if you hate pulling weeds! They aren’t perfect by any means, but oh my gosh they make a HUGE difference! I have linked the ones above in the Amazon favorites ad so you can see the ones we purchased! There are tons of great reviews out of thousands! You will also have to get some weed barrier metal U shaped stakes to keep it down flat. Then you will use a box cutter to cut a big X on the barrier to have the plant come through. Try to push weed barrier back up around the bottom of the plant around the roots. This will help prevent weeds from growing right next to the plant.
Once the weed barrier is down, and the plants are planted, then it’s time for mulch! There are several different kinds of mulch to choose from. I originally wanted the black rubber tire mulch to match the house, but my parents ( who are AMAZING green thumbs) said that the black mulch will get too hot in the Texas heat and kill the plants. Which made complete sense to me, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear! So we went with Cedar mulch to go with the cedar posts. Although it does fade over time, mulch is usually something that has to be freshened up each year anyway!
Ways to Save on Landscaping
There are several ways we tried to save on our landscaping. We did this all cash a few months after we moved in, so we had time to save money and plan it all out. We still needed to try to save as much as possible. It is definitely expensive purchasing all the landscape for the first time, but after that, it’s not too bad!
One way we saved is doing it ourselves! It took a couple of weekends to get it done, but it was so cheaper than paying someone else to do it! Having someone else do it would have been much easier, but it also would have cost us a several thousand dollars!
Another way we saved is purchasing the mulch by the truck bed load. We have a local place that we found that will give us a trailer or truck bed full of mulch for a fraction of the price of purchasing it bag by bag! To get our landscape started, we needed quite a few truck loads! This year we used about two truck bead loads, but we have a lot of landscape area!
Purchasing perennial plants instead of annual plants is another way to save money. Perennial plants will come back each year, and annual plants will only last the season. This will help save money in the long run, because you won’t have to replace a lot of plants next spring. I only purchased perennial when we first put in our landscape, and this year I added a few annuals for some color in the front and back, but it wasn’t expensive since most of my landscape came back from last year! You can also purchase a smaller size of the plant you want, it might not be big when you plant it, but it will grow!
We also grew most of our grass by seed. We bought a pallet or two of sod to put in the front right along the sidewalk, and in the backyard right right around our landscaping. The sod in the front by the sidewalk helped keep the sidewalk clean from all dirt and mud from rain. For the back yard, we put a small area of sod grass to let the boys play in this area. This allowed the boys to have some grassy areas to go play in without getting muddy or ruining their clothes every time. They were actually really good about staying on the patio or grass only areas! It also gave our little baby grass seed have a chance to grow instead of being trampled on constantly!! 🙂
A few points to mention when planting!
- Purchase smaller plants that will grow bigger. Maybe purchase the 1 or 3 gallon, instead of the 5 gallon.
- Organize your plants from what will grow to be the tallest in the back, to medium in the middle, and shortest in the front.
- Don’t plant too close to the exterior.
- Dig a large hole, and fill with some soil from a bag to help the plant’s roots settle in.
- Put weed barrier up as close as possible to the bottom of the plant.
- Mound the base of the plant with mulch. It will settle down once the rain has moved it around or washed it away. It also helps keep moisture around the plant.
- Try to create patterns or group together specific styles of plants to create an aesthetically pleasing design that suits your personality and design of your home!
- Grow grass from seed. It takes a while, but it is MUCH cheaper! If you need grass in some small areas for kiddos to play in, then you can purchase some sod for those areas, but then let the other areas have grass grow by seed!
- Use gardening plant tape and tape taller trees or shrubs to a bamboo stick, or metal T-post so the plant will grow straight up until it’s trunk and roots get strong enough on its own.
Let it Grow
I hope you found some helpful tips or information in this post! Just remember that the plants will grow and it takes time! Let it grow along with you and your family as you live life in your home!
I also posted a reel on my Instagram that shows good before and afters of our landscape! Check out my highlight on my Instagram over our landscaping from last year! It’s called Building101 Landscaping! It talks about each plant we bought, and shows you where exactly we planted everything around the house!
If you have any landscape tips to add to the post, comment them below so others can read about your tips too! Thanks for reading friends, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog posts! I promise, you only get emails when there is a new post or a special event!