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Landscaping preliminaries

There are probably as many reasons for landscaping a property as there are people. The possible designs can be both exciting and overwhelming. Before taking the leap into landscaping, you will want to ask yourself the following questions:

What do you want? Some people envision the perfect cottage garden. Others draw their inspiration from the manicured lawns and hedges of “Downton Abbey.” Still others are enamored with the tranquility of Japanese gardens.

Why do you want it? Perhaps you’re feeling pressured to make your landscape conform to those in your neighbourhood. Maybe you want your property to look as different from your neighbour’s as possible. You might need an outdoor refuge from everything else in your life.

How much maintenance are you willing to do yourself (or hire someone to perform)? This is probably the most crucial question. You may have your heart set on a classic cottage garden, but if you cannot, or will not, spend the time (or money) required to keep it looking its best, then you’ll be left with a classic mess. Those lovely lawns and hedges of “Downton Abbey” certainly don’t mow and clip themselves. Please note that the only way you will be able to have a completely maintenance-free landscape is to hire a gardener.

How much money are you willing/able to spend? Completely transforming your back garden into a replica of Tolkien’s Shire will likely be a spendy proposition. On the other hand, a little signpost that says “This way to Bree” or something might be all the Middle Earth evocation you need. It’s all up to you and your wallet.

If you have a family, their needs, wishes, and limitations must be considered as well. Do you really want to move the play structure, or are you willing to work around it? Must the pond be in the middle of the path to the letterbox? Placing a miniature replica of a Japanese temple exactly where your dog loves to dig will likely prove a recipe for frustration.

Once have asked yourself – and answered – all of these questions, it would be an exceedingly good idea to write it all down and make a rough sketch of your vision. You need to have a crystal clear idea of how you and your family – including your pets – will be using the space. This kind of reality check might seem quite dull, but it will save you an infinite amount of aggravation in the very near future. Once you have done all of this legwork, you are ready to work with a landscape professional.