Garden Design Tips Newsletter

Landscape Design and Gardening Newsletter
Written by Steve Boulden
Owner of S&S Designed Landscaping,LLC

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

A simple idea. Where do I start? What can I do to my yard? These are the most common questions I get and unfortunately they're hard to answer without seeing each individual plot. And in the Summer months I'm way too busy to look at the hundreds of requests I get.

In this issue we'll look at some projects we've done as well as a few other tips and resources. Maybe we can give you some ideas or help you fix some problem areas.

There are a lot of simple little steps that can add class and interest to your landscape. For instance, how to properly place a boulder in the landscape. This may seem like it wouldn't make a difference but it really does. See:
Landscape And Garden Rocks

The projects we'll look at all touch on using levels to create interest in your landscape. It can be a challenge to come up with ways to be creative and give your design a professional looking edge. So any little trick or idea can help.

In any application where you're dealing with a plain flat lot or even a slope or hillside, levels can add interest, a sense of more space, and be the most sensible cure for a problem area you have.

There's nothing fancy or hard about this and as you'll see, you can use materials from your local home décor store or from your surrounding country side to accomplish this.

You'll also see from the design examples I use that I'm into xeriscaping. And yes, I am very fond of correopsis. I think it's the flower of the year for me.

I know you've been waiting a while for this so let's get on with it.

Steve Boulden,
S&S Design


  • Creating Levels
  • Landscape Tip - Berms, not just bumps
  • Easily Design And Install Your Own Sprinkler System
  • Path Ways

Createing Levels In Landscape Design

I read somewhere that the most interesting landscape plans need to have at least three levels. I'm not so sure about that but I will say that I do like for my own designs to have at least two levels. I've yet to create a flat design. They're just so uninteresting.

What I'm going to show you are three of our latest completed projects using retaining walls to create a second level. The first and second use pre-fab store bought bricks and the third uses natural stone that we picked up in the hills surrounding our area.

LANDSCAPE DESIGN 10 - A Sloped Lot Xeriscape Design This design appeared on the site at the end of last year but has since been planted in and finished. It's what I call a design of necessity since the design helped save the foundation of the home from washing away. Here's the link:

A Sloped Lot Xeriscape Design

See it finished here:

Two Level Xeriscape Landscape

LANDSCAPE DESIGN 16 - Mediterranean Garden Design This design first appeared on the site a few months back before we started on the project. It has since been finished.
Here's the link:

Mediterranean Style Landscaping

See it finished here:

Finished Mediterranean Garden Plan

LANDSCAPE DESIGN 17 - Small Two Level Xeric Garden Design This design is new to the site. It uses a dry stack natural stone retaining wall to create the levels. Dry stack means that no mortar is used in the joints. However, in all of my retaining walls I do use a concrete footing no matter how small the wall is. Here's the link:

Small Two Level Xeriscape Garden Design

See it finished here:

Xeriscaped Garden Plan

LANDSCAPE TIP - Berms, not just bumps

Berms (small sweeping hills) can help add height, levels, and interest to otherwise dull flat yards and landscapes.

I've never been asked how to make a berm or what one is..... until rescently. I all of a sudden got a slew of emails requesting information on how to build a berm correctly.

While there's no trick, special art, or rules to createing berms, I guess there is a way to keep them from looking like odd bumps in your front yard. These are just the simple "rules" that I can think of. They're not written in rock.

A berm should be at least 5 to 6 times as long as it is high and should gradually "feather" into the yard. If you create a two foot high berm, make it "feather" 12 or so feet long into the yard.

Width is, I think, just a matter of feel for what looks natural and good. A 2 foot high, one foot wide hill would have too much of a slope to hold ground cover and would look very unnatural. The width should also "feather" into the yard.

Most often, berms occupy and fill corner areas and a lot of times have a crescent shape open toward the yard. However, shape can be anything that fits, is creative, or follows the flow of the yard.

In bed areas, boulders or larger rocks can be placed into the berm to give it a more natural look, places to plant around, and aid in holding smaller ground cover in place.

Design Tips 403 Page 2

  • Easily Design And Install Your Own Sprinkler System
  • Path Ways