Many homeowners want to create curb appeal or install their dream outdoor space, but often forget that landscaping is an investment. It is something that will be a part of your home for years to come and will require maintenance to care and develop it. Whether you are focused on creating a place for entertainment, an oasis for relaxation, or building the value of your home for resale, landscaping is an enhancement that takes careful consideration of purpose. What do you want to achieve from your outdoor space? How will you use it? How much maintenance are you willing to put forth each month? How much are you willing to spend? Your investment is not one that comes over night, but through the detailed process with your designer, your lifestyle will speak through your landscape.

Step One: Vision with Purpose

The first step to enhancing your outdoor living space is to have a vision for your backyard. What do you want to accomplish? Once you can answer this question you will be able to determine the purpose of your outdoor space. If your vision is a relaxing oasis, you may want to consider investing in a hammock and soothing water features instead of outdoor TVs. Spend some time sitting in your backyard and thinking, what do I wish I had here? What would I use the most? It’s important to play the “What-If” game. What if I could build a pirate ship in the back corner for my kids? What if I could build an outdoor kitchen to cook our family’s favorite foods? What if I had a fire pit for the kids to roast marshmallows on Friday nights with friends? It’s important that your long-term vision identifies the purpose of YOUR outdoor living space.

Step Two: Characterization

Many homeowners make the mistake of rushing into their landscape design, especially if it’s their first-time landscaping. It’s essential to work with a designer who helps you create a style, theme or character that personalizes your outdoor space. Your landscape should complement the exterior of your home. Designers are up-to-date on colors, materials, themes, and styles that are trending and will blend them with your landscape style. Many homeowners pay a designer for their skills and install a design without even realizing if it encompasses what they are looking for in a backyard space. Even if you have no landscaping ideas, you still know what you like and don’t like. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand the design or layout of a landscape blueprint.

Step Three: Know the details

Know your project timeline. Many homeowners have elaborate landscaping dreams that force them to install their project in budgetary phases. If your dream is to own a gas fire pit or outdoor kitchen someday, but phase one consists of a paver patio, be sure to install the appropriate pumping, electric and gas lines prior to installing your patio. This will prevent you from having to rip it up in the future to install needed materials. A timeline is essential if many parts of your install coexist, but are installed in phases. This is especially important if you, the homeowner, is working as the general contractor and employing multiple companies to do various phases. If your install consists of multiple parts, it’s worth paying for your landscape or deck contractor to oversee their sub-contractors so they are able to manage the timeline of events. Many landscape contractors have long-standing relationships with deck, irrigation, fence, pool and concrete contractors. If you feel comfortable overseeing multiple contractors, be sure to pay for a full landscape blueprint for each contractor so they are aware of the entire project.