It is not easy to develop creative landscaping ideas, especially for the DIY home landscaper looking for a unique design. Many professional landscape designers seek inspiration for their designs from nature and what others have created.
Botanic gardens and arboretums, nurseries and garden centers, books, magazines, and pictures posted on the internet are all great places to stumble upon unique landscaping ideas that you can incorporate into your design.
Tip: Keep a camera handy. I try to keep a camera or phone camera with me at all times to snap photos of interesting plantings and creative landscape designs.
You don’t need a professional plan drawn on paper. It is easy to re-create a beautiful design or great idea from pictures or a simple sketch. A camera (or camera in a phone) is a landscape designer’s best friend, keep one handy.
Visiting a local arboretum or botanic garden is an interesting and informative way to spend a day outside and get your creative juices flowing. You will find acres of landscape plants on exhibit, including the time-tested as well as new varieties of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
These are excellent places to learn about plants and see what they actually look like at different stages of their life cycle. It is important to know what a mature tree or shrub looks like before planting it in your yard.
Bring your camera and take plenty of pictures, be sure to photo the plant name tags. Look for displays that have similar site conditions to the areas that you want to landscape – sunny, shady, wet or dry spots. Many major urban centers have a botanical garden located nearby, take advantage of these resources they are a treasure trove of beautiful landscaping ideas.
Beautiful Japanese Maple that I found at a garden center.
Mature Camperdown Elm with a lot of winter interest.
Shop for ideas at local nurseries and garden centers. You will find a wider selection of landscape plants than what is available at the big box stores, the nurseries are also likely to have something new and unusual. Ask the experts for suggestions and again, take your camera for pictures.
It is well known that the prices at Home Depot or Lowes are going to be lower, however the employees at a landscape nursery are usually more knowledgeable.
Tip: Some nurseries have free color catalogs with pictures of their landscape plants, be sure to pick one up.
Browse photos in gardening books, magazines and internet sites for landscaping ideas. There are plenty of books, magazines and websites with hundreds of beautiful pictures and creative ideas that you can incorporate into your design.
Take a hike! Don’t overlook what nature has to offer, some of the most beautiful landscaping ideas can be discovered in the backwoods. Explore ways to incorporate nature into your design.
DIY Landscape Design Tips
- Unity: The best designs have a similar look and feel throughout the entire property. A balanced look of symmetry will add beauty to your home.
- Theme: Japanese, native, urban, formal…what’s your theme? Since landscapes designed around themes have identifiable characteristics, a theme will help you select plants and other materials that fit into your design.
- Year-round Interest: Incorporate plants with four-season interest to make your yard look great all year round. Four-season interest includes; fruit, flowers, leaf color and interesting bark.
- Plant Selection: Only use plants that will thrive in your climate all year round. Check with the experts at the local garden center, they will know what grows best in your area.
- Create patterns with Layers and Repetition: Design your planting beds in layers by placing the smallest plants in the front of the bed and the tallest in the back. Repeating forms, colors, and textures of plant types throughout the different landscape beds creates a sense of unity throughout the yard.