How to Prepare the Backyard for Landscaping

Landscaped pond and stream image by S.F. Heron


The time has come to turn your yard into a proper outdoor living space. Whether this involves the addition of a deck, patio, swimming pool, play area or simply beautifying the property with gardens, you need to prepare for the upheaval. Landscaping a backyard is a major renovation that will affect other parts of your yard. Preparing the backyard for landscaping involves practical moves to make performing the landscaping tasks easier. Preparation includes removing existing trees, shrubs and gardens, weeding, removing grass, destroying old patio and living areas. You need to create the best environment for installing your newly designed landscape.

Step 1

Examine your finished landscape drawing to create a plan of attack. You may choose to work from the house outward to get the close-up landscaping completed first. However, you can begin at any area, as long as you will not damage other newly added landscape features.

Step 2

Move everything out of the areas to be landscaped. This includes kid's toys, firewood piles, junk, large rocks and any structures that will not be incorporated into the new landscape.

Step 3

Retain only those trees, shrubs and plants that will be incorporated into the new landscape design. If you need to remove shrubs for disposal, begin by clipping all branches off the plant to about two feet from the ground. Dig down at a distance about two feet from the trunk for older shrubs. Dig and remove dirt to one and a half feet deep to allow access to the root system. Hack at the roots with the mauler until you can remove the entire shrub, including the roots. Remove as many roots as possible, especially if you're re-planting a garden in the same spot.

Step 4

Check the gardens you plan to retain, for removal of plants and any updating. Remove all weeds from the garden. Add soil additives to stripped gardens and work organic compounds into the soil using a rototiller (or shovel, hoe and rake).

Step 5

Transplant the shrubs and trees you'll be saving to their permanent locations before adding new plantings.

Step 6

Prepare new garden areas by killing all grass and weeds. Use a herbicide for this task. If you're concerned about using chemicals on your property, check with your local nursery for less invasive weed and grass killers. You also have the option of digging down with a spade shovel and removing the grass one shovelful at a time. Be sure to dig six to eight inches down, since grass roots grow deeply into the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscape plan
  • Pruning clippers
  • Pruning loppers
  • 10 lb. mauler
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Rototiller
  • Soil additives


  • Cornell University
  • Colorado State University Extension
Keywords: backyard landscape, prepare to landscape, landscape preparation

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Photo by: S.F. Heron