How to Landscape With Plants


A beautiful landscape increases the value and beauty of your home or business. There are many different landscaping styles, from English garden designs with groups of flowering plants spilling over paths and borders or sparsely planted rock gardens with only a few succulents visible. The landscaping style you choose depends on your personal taste and the time you have available for maintenance such as weeding, mulching and pruning. However, there are a elements of design used when landscaping with plants that all successful and beautiful landscapes have in common.

Step 1

Decide on the type of landscape you would like to create based on your ability to maintain it and the cost involved. For example, a landscape containing tender tropical plants will need protection from freezing temperatures and lots of water. Or, you might prefer a landscape with evergreen plants instead of lots of flowers, or a combination. A landscape of native plants that requires little irrigation and fertilizer might be attractive to you.

Step 2

Measure the size of your landscape with a measuring tape and make a drawing with a pen and paper from an aerial view of where you would like to place your flowerbeds and trees. Include all permanent structures in the landscape such as the home, trees, or storage buildings. This is where the element of design known as balance is involved. The plants on one side of the landscape should be similar in size, color and number to plants on the other side.

Step 3

Mark off flower beds with a long length of garden hose. Long flowing lines for flower beds look better than sharp angles, and using a water hose to designate the boundaries makes the process easy. Use landscaping spray paint to mark off the flower beds and other plant locations, as well as paths.

Step 4

Choose plants according to the amount of sun and moisture available. Sun-loving plants will perform poorly in a heavily shaded location. Keep in mind the eventual size of the chosen plants relative to the size of your landscape and maintenance requirements. For example, a small ornamental tree in the middle of a large landscape may look odd, or out of balance, to some people. Plants with the same color foliage or flowers grouped together are more pleasing to the eye than lots of different colors and textures.

Step 5

Clear the area you have chosen for your flower beds and plants. Enriching the soil with a 1 inch layer of compost helps the soil hold moisture. Plant taller plants in back of medium and smaller growing plants, giving each plant room to grow creating a transition from higher to lower plants. Crowded plants are unattractive and create mildew and disease problems due to low air circulation. Use a 1 or 2 inch layer of mulch around plants to create a professional look, conserve moisture and control weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscaping plants
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Compost
  • Garden hose
  • Spray landscape paint
  • Mulch
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape


  • TAMU: Elements and Principles of Landscape Design
  • Landscape Design Site: The Basic Principles of Landscape Design
  • TAMU: Planning the Home Landscape
Keywords: landscaping plants, plant landscape, landscape design

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.