It’s exciting to move into a new construction home, but there’s more than just the interior to consider. Your home’s landscaping has much to do with your enjoyment of the property and boosts the home’s curb appeal. But where do you start?
Determine your budget. The rule of thumb is to spend about 10 percent of a home’s cost on landscaping. If that’s a stretch when you’ve just purchased the home, you might consider landscaping in phases, adding in elements as you can afford them.
Think long-term. Ask yourself how your family will be using the outdoor space for the next five years. For example, if you have children, you’ll want to include a play area as well as large open grassy areas. Then move on in five-year increments, looking at the years to come and how your use of the area may change over time. This will give you an idea of how to begin.
Consider your own personal style. What do you like to do outside? If you’re a gardener, you’ll want to plan spaces for various gardens. For those who enjoy entertaining, a firepit or outdoor bar are a couple of great options. If you’re interested mainly in peace and relaxation, consider a gazebo that offers a private place to spend some quiet time.
Create an overall plan of what you want your yard to look like. Look online for inspiration, and then figure out how and where your favorite elements might fit into your own space.
Map the sun. What you plant where will be determined largely by the sun. Knowing the amount of sun an area gets is critical to having healthy plants and grass. Consider sun coming into the house as well. If you want to help keep the house cooler in the summer, think about planting a deciduous tree that will provide shade in summer yet let the sunlight in when winter comes.
Sketch the yard. When you have an idea of the elements you want in your yard, draw a rough layout. If this is difficult, you could hire a landscape architect to help you create a design. If you’re not a DIYer, a landscaper can even do the work.
For trees and shrubs, consider maintenance and long-term growth. As trees mature, their roots can cause problems if a tree is too close to the home, so select a seedling’s location carefully. Research the tree’s maximum height and plant it at least that many feet away from the house. Also, if you don’t like to clean up fallen leaves, seeds, or flowers, choose shrubs that aren’t so messy.
Investigate the soil. Chances are, the soil under your new construction home isn’t the best for starting from scratch. This is because a builder might have brought in fill dirt to level the ground. Fill dirt is normally subsoil that hasn’t had the benefit of nutrients and worms or other organisms that help to create rich, healthy soil. In addition, the soil may be full of left behind building materials like nails, chunks of concrete, and wood. A third problem is that the soil becomes compacted during the building process from the trucks and heavy equipment brought on site. Plants and grass need healthy, aerated soil to grow well. Grass in particular requires loose soil to do well. Test the soil to find out what you have to start. The antidote to poor soil is amending it with the lacking nutrients. Add good quality topsoil and some compost or manure to achieve healthy soil. Till the soil before planting.
Choose between sod and seed for the lawn. Sod gives a home an instant lawn and is less work after it is installed, but it costs considerably more than seed. Seed requires some patience and diligent care after planting to achieve a healthy lawn.
Have fun in the process, as you’re sure to enjoy the results.