Garden Design Tips Newsletter #307
Designing A Landscape

Landscape Design and Gardening Newsletter
08-05-03 Issue#307
Written by Steve Boulden
Owner of S&S Designed Landscaping,LLC

Welcome to another great issue of your landscape design and gardening newsletter.

This issue is in response to an email I got a few weeks back that made me have to go back and look at a few of my pages. I thought it might make a great article as well. Let me know what you think.

I do try to make information on the site clear and usable but sometimes it may not be as clear as it could be.

I do appreciate the following email and any suggestions that will help make the site better for everyone.

Here's the email:

Hi Steve,

Thanks for all the great information on your site. I've gotten a lot of great ideas from it.

I have a question.

We just bought a 2300 sq. ft. home on 1.5 acres of dead, dying, and dirt. My husband is a do-it-yourselfer so we want to landscape ourselves without hiring a landscape contractor or designer.

Most of the info we find is obscure about "how to design" unless you want to use someone elses ideas and layouts. I want to design my own but don't know where or how to start.

I've read your landscape planning page and I realize that you are trying to make it inexpensive and easy for do-it-yourselfers to understand. What I really want to know this how YOU design a landscaping or garden design? I mean, are these the same exact steps YOU take in the design process?

I realize that experience plays a big part in what you do but are there "professional methods" as well as do-it-yourself methods? If so, you should put them on your site as well.


Texas - USA

Hmmmm, At first thought I couldn't say step by step how I design a landscape. True, experience does play a big part in the sense that I know what to do in certain situations. However, as far as how I design, I had to give some thought and retracing.

So, after all that, the answer is "no", that's not exactly how I design. Sometimes it's total inspiration and most times it's a lot of thought and work.

So, in this issue I'm going to walk you through how I do a typical design using my software and we'll use one of our latest designs as an example. If you plan on using design software in your new plan see landscape design software reviews to find out what my latest recommendations are for the best design software.

You can use these steps for creating new landscapes as well as renewing an old one.

Please keep in mind that this is only one way I design one type of landscape. If you like the way I did this walk through, let me know. If I get enough positive response, I'll do more with different types of design.

Thanks for reading,



  • Landscape Tips - How To Design A Landscape
  • Saving Money On Plants

LANDSCAPE TIPS - How To Design A Landscape
Here's where you can find the design we'll use:

Big Mobile Home Landscaping Idea

Go ahead and bring it up and you can toggle in between it and this newsletter.

First, every landscape has a purpose or many purposes. Even if it's just to be admired, that's its purpose. You need to know what you want your landscape to do before you ever begin.

In this design example there are two homes on a bare dirt lot. The clients purpose is to connect the two homes, break a terrible West wind, create a small, shady, quiet haven, block the view of neighbors, and to be beautiful.

On this design and every design I do, I measure and draw it out. I have to have something to show the client, keeps everything in proportion, and it helps me visualize my ideas. I suggest you do the same.

You can draw free hand or use landscape software like I do. You can see my recommendation for software at:
Software Reviews

You can get help drawing at:
Landscape Planning

O.K., so now we know purposes and we can design in everything that is necessary. You'll see in this design how it kind of just comes together around the necessary elements.

First I created the landscaping walkway that borders the dirt drive to both homes. This takes care of one purpose and intentionally creates separation for a lawn area.

The rest of the walkway is intended to connect the front of the house to the back and keep the owner out of the mud and dirt when parking. This unintentionally created a nice bed area next to the home and a parking area boundary. I like it so far so it's a keeper.

Next, I need to block the wind. My choice for this area is Mondale Pine. I can usually get them already 14 or so feet tall and they do well here. So I placed a row of them on the West property line.

Fortunately, I can also use the pines to block the view of neighbors front yard to the Southwest. They're the only ones in view. I could have kept the pines in line with the property line but I curved them in to create some contour, interest, and flow.

I also put a few Cactus on the back side for the neighbors.

There, that's two more purposes taken care of. Now I create the "haven".

I put this "haven" next to the home in front for a few reasons. The main one being that this is where the client wants it. This is a good place also because it's viewable from a Kitchen window, the living room, and the front porch.

This area is hard to see detail on this page. It's basically a patio with garden pond idea, a lattice work with vine for more wind protection, a surrounding bed, and small accent tree behind the pond. A very shady quiet area.

I needed a border for the Southwest front yard and I didn't just want to end the lawn in dirt. I also wanted some enclosure and height in this area. Again, I could have followed the property line but I wanted some flow, contour, and interest. This also helped create the shape of the lawn.

More Notes:

The planting diagram isn't complete. However, the plantings will be of a xeric and native nature. The lawn area is minimized and uses Buffalo Grass. Keep your natural resources in mind. Xeriscape can be very beautiful. See:

One of the main things I tell do it yourselfers is to know your plants. Your design ability will come up with your increased knowledge of plant types. See:
Garden Plants Ideas

The major ground covering of this plan is inexpensive but decorative landscape gravel under lain with a professional weed barrier fabric. It's a very large area and expense had to be considered.

As you can see, this landscape design just came together around the necessities and purposes. Even the artsy stuff took little consideration.

I could have done a lot more to this design but the expense says to stop.

The owner really likes the design and so after a little tweaking and plant selection, we'll be starting this in mid October.

More On Page 2 Design Tips #307

  • Saving Money On Plants


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