BRENT CONLEY

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Planning Your landscape

Landscaping your lawn can improve the aesthetic beauty of the property, as well as add to its resale value. But before you jump hoe first into the project, a little forethought and planning can save valuable time, effort and money.

The first step is to develop a landscaping plan. Draw a sketch of the property; include the physical boundaries, the position of the house, driveways, utilities and easements. There is software available that can aid you with planning your landscape, also.

Before you decide what type of tress and shrubs to plant, a careful consideration of the elements is in order. Climate, topography, land, soil, vegetation, house, utilities, views and the neighbourhood will all impact your decision.

You may want to ask yourself what it is your family needs. For example, if you have young children you may desire a play area or outdoor cooking and eating areas. A golf enthusiast may consider a driving range. The sky is the limit, but once you are committed, there is no turning back.

The maintenance aspect may also pose some concerns. Will you be responsible for maintaining the property or will you hire a gardener? Exotic plants and shrubs are best serviced by a gardener with experience in this area.

The location of your plants, trees and shrubs will be determined by your needs. Clearly, the objective is to blend your home and your property. The following tips will help to create a good visual relationship between the two:

* Try to position plants so that a natural scene is created as they mature.
* An evergreen or cedar hedge will provide privacy and screen unsightly views. However, if privacy is a major concern you may want to build a fence. Consider the old adage "Good fences make good neighbours."
* Buy your plants, trees and shrubs from a reputable nursery to ensure high quality.
* A practical and aesthetically pleasing yard may include fruit and vegetable producing plants.
* Choose construction materials such as wood and stone to compliment your landscaping efforts, i.e. fieldstone walkways, wood decking etc.

Last, but not least, incorporate your plants, shrubs, trees, walkways, decking and patio into your plan. Once your plan is complete, it's full-speed ahead. The only question left to answer is "where is that shovel?"