Now that the thermometer has touched the 60 degree mark here in the Piedmont, many homeowners’ thoughts are now consumed with outdoor projects. A better statement would be- the clock is ticking to get them done! As with most homeowners, the real question is not WHEN, but HOW will you get these landscaping projects done? When and which project(s) should be tackled first? These questions can be answered by evaluating two things: (1) the real aspects of your project that you CAN accomplish and (2) aspects of your lifestyle that can make those projects happen. . . or sadly NOT! Lastly- how much money and resources are you willing to put towards this project? Here are a few things to consider:
1. PRIORITIES: Just what is most important for you to accomplish? Can the project be done anytime, or does it need to be accomplished at a certain time of year? For example: Outdoor painting can only be done at certain times of year due to temperature. Maybe that project is tabled until the weather cooperates. Landscaping here in the south can happen all winter, so that is not an issue. If you live in Pa, however, you may need to finish up your landscaping by October and the ground freezes. As a rule, make a general list of projects- Prioritizing them in order of importance and if there are any time constraints to accomplishing them now.
2. TIME: How much time to you have to devote to this project? If the project must be tackled in ‘phases’, how will that happen? How many weekends can you set aside- or do you plan to hand the project to a landscape contractor to install? Could some part of the project be completed during the fall- and the rest in the spring? Maybe dividing it up could make it more palatable and really happen? Another typical problem with homeowners projects is procrastination. As much as you will something to happen, it won’t happen unless you get out there. Take your calendar and pencil in your project to make them really happen!
3. RESOURCES: What is your budget for the project? Make sure you budget both time and materials. Your time is definitely worth something, considering the time away from friends and family or other jobs at the home. Put a budget on what time you see yourself contributing to the project. Check also on what other resources do you have at your disposal that can make your project a reality? Do you know a college student who could help you carry out the labor? Do you have a means to barter services with another professional? Do you have a friend who said you could have as many of her perennials as you could carry? Did your neighbor say that you could borrow his truck? Make a list of all additional resources before you begin to plan your project.
4. LET’S GET REAL: Now is the time for some real soul searching. You may want to tackle a pond project on your own, but should you? Many times, as when we eat, our eyes are bigger than our stomach. Look at your project in the light of this brutal fact. What can you REALLY do on your own (and still be proud of!) Some things are best left to the professionals. Patios, walls and other hardscape are items that fall into this category. If hardscape is on your ‘to do’ list move it RIGHT NOW from that list to your ‘hire a professional’ list! These types of projects can be determined by the following: The amount of skill, machinery, manpower will be needed to install it correctly. I emphasis the word correctly here. The last thing you want is to spend 5K on a really economical wall, that falls down the next season!
Planning gardens and landscaping projects has been my business for over 30 years. The first step to any successful outdoor project is a landscape masterplan. Only when you have a road map- can you find your way where you are going! In the same way, a masterplan can give you priorities of projects and also help you sort out what aspects you can accomplish on your own and what ones require professional help.
About the Author:
Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 25 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites:
GARDEN ART AND GIFTS: WWW.TriadGarden.com
DESIGN WORK PORTFOLIO: WWW.HawkinsLA.com
Let me know if I can help you in any way. Visit my website at www.HawkinsLA to see how we can work together to make your project a reality!
To See More: Garden Art, trellises, vertical gardening supplies and more at www.TriadGarden.com