Everything in this slideshow
Know Your Site
Before you begin planting or before you add another plant, take time to really get to know the weather, light, and soil conditions of your site. When plants are paired with their desired growing conditions, they practically take care of themselves. Great landscapers plant low-water loving plants in quick-draining sandy soil. Bog plants are reserved for areas that are constantly moist.
- See our garden plans for shady spots.
Choose Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs have a big landscape presence that increases with time. Plant these long-lasting woody plants and enjoy decades of flowers, fragrance, and colorful foliage with minimal annual maintenance.
- Check out our favorite small trees.
Make a Master Plan
Great landscapes often start with a well thought-out plan. Sketch a simple plan of your property, including structures, existing trees and shrubs, and garden elements. Add outdoor living areas, pathways to access those areas, and other elements, such as a swing set or vegetable garden. Don’t hesitate to include areas that you are not ready to install but would like to build in the future. The master plan will be essential in illustrating how your landscape will come together in time.
- See our colorful front yard garden plans.
Search for Natives
The beauty of landscaping with native plants is that the plants are most likely accustomed to the weather and soil conditions in your area. Be sure to site the plant in its preferred sun exposure and you’re well on your way to a trouble-free plant that thrives year-after-year.
- Discover the best native plants for your region.
Focus Your Efforts
Focus on creating one or two key garden areas that offer impact, rather than placing multiple beds and borders in all corners of your property. A perennial-and-shrub border along your front walkway or near the front door of your home is always a good choice. The area immediately surrounding your porch, deck, or patio is also a great spot for landscaping. You’re likely to visit these spaces often and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
- See these 16 great patio ideas.
Cluster plants with similar needs together. Clustering containers simplifies watering, plus it allows pots to shade one another, which reduces watering. You can acidify the soil more efficiently by grouping acid-loving plants.
- Check out 10 easy-care groundcover plants.
Install a Border
Encircle shrub borders, perennial beds, vegetable gardens, and other planting spaces with a border. This might be as simple as a spaded edge that prevents grass from creeping into the garden. Or use stone or brick to create a lasting border. A defined bed edge plays two important roles in the landscape. It provides a clean finish for the planting area and it prevents grass and weeds from creeping into the garden.
- Discover garden bed edging ideas.
Blanket the Soil
A lush groundcover, such as easy-to-grow creeping sedum or shade-loving lamium, is a wonderful way to add color and texture below perennials and shrubs while preventing weed seeds from germinating in open soil. A 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of shredded wood mulch, cocoa hulls, or pine straw also will prevent excessive weed growth.
- Read about the best mulches.
Plan to Prune
Plants grow—there’s no way around it. Often they expand beyond their intended site. Regularly reign in trees and shrubs by pruning annually. The best time to prune flowering trees and shrubs is just after they bloom. Prune shade trees and evergreen in mid- to late spring.
- See what to prune when.
Compost, Compost, Compost
Rich in valuable nutrients, compost is a great addition to any garden. Healthy soil yields healthy plants, and healthy plants are easy to care for. Search for quality compost through your local municipality or garden center.
- Learn how to make compost.