How to Design Your Own Landscaping


Landscaping is about creating a look around a dwelling by placing plants, trees and shrubs and man-made features such as paths, fountains, statues or benches. Landscaping adds value to a home and provides you with a place of beauty for reflection and relaxation. Steve Boulden of the Landscape Design Site suggests you become familiar with eight basic principles of landscape design before you buy a plant or dig a hole.

How to Design Your Own Landscaping

Step 1

Decide what look you want to achieve. The possibilities for landscaping are almost infinite. However, you should think about the basic style you want and how much space you want to devote to landscaping versus turf grass or gardens.

Step 2

Get ideas from others. Local parks, exclusive neighborhoods, arboretums and garden centers all have examples of landscape designs from which you can borrow ideas. Online there are millions of pictures of designed landscapes that offer inspiration.

Step 3

Purchase a book or visit the library to gain information on local or regionally adapted plants, shrubs and trees. It is always best to select plants that are adapted to the conditions of your area.

Step 4

Walk your yard and decide where you want to place your landscape plants. Around your house is typical, however many people also enjoy landscaping around a pool, patio or a designated area in the yard.

Step 5

Take measurements of the areas you will be landscaping.

Step 6

Create a basic outline on graph paper or with landscape design software of your home, pathways and any existing landscape features such as trees or shrubs.

Step 7

Draw the outline shape of the areas to be landscaped. If you are not sure, go back outside and use a garden hose to create different shapes (lines, curves, squares, patterns). Transfer that shape to paper or software program. The University of Minnesota offers several suggestions that apply basic landscape design principles using various line forms.

Step 8

Place plant pictures or drawings onto the desired shape using their mature size. It is best to begin with the larger or focal point plants and then add the complementary plants.

Step 9

View the draft picture of your future landscape and tweak the design as needed. This step is where the software has advantages over the paper and pencil. It is easier to edit the landscape options on the computer and many people are better able to visualize the final result when it is displayed in pictures on the computer than the flat presentation on the paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Colored pencils or pens
  • Computer with Landscape Design Software and printer (optional)
  • Garden hose
  • Reference book on regionally adapted plants


  • The Landscape Design Site
  • Line Forms for Landscape Design from the University of Minnesota
Keywords: landscape design, landscape design principles, selecting landscape plants

About this Author

Barbara Brown has been a freelance writer since 2006. She worked 10 years performing psychological testing before moving into information research. She worked as a knowledge management specialist and project manager in defense and health research. She is studying to be a master gardener and has a master's degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University.