Why Late Summer and Fall is a Great Time for Landscape Projects

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Your mind may not be on landscaping as the late summer/fall pushes in and the first nips of cold air bite at your heels. However, this is actually one of the best times to plan and execute a landscape project that you can fully enjoy next season! 

There are a couple of reasons why I reserve any major landscape projects for the late summer or fall. The first is that it is cooler and easier to do physical work than in the dead heat of summer. The second reason, and probably the main reason, is that you can find a load of hardscape products and plants on sale as the season comes to a close.  Take a walk through your local home and garden center, and you will find perennial plants that may look a little sad but will revive nicely for next season. If you are lucky, you will also find discounted edging and other fun items to use in your landscape project. I don’t know about you, but I am always on the hunt for a great deal, especially when it comes to items for outdoor projects!

Once you set your mind to a late summer/fall landscape project, here are few things to keep in mind:

Pick a theme

The difference between simple gardening and landscaping is that the latter aims at creating a delightful view that suits the space. It incorporates not only plants, but pathways, rock and water features, and other elements of hardscape. Landscaping should be done with a specific theme in mind for a pleasing result. It can be borrowed from nature, as in woodland, desert, tropical, or Mediterranean themes, or from established conventions, as in Japanese or traditional English gardens. To be cohesive, the theme should ideally match the setting, depending on whether your property is near the woods or seashore or right in the middle of the city.  

Your house being the more permanent and solid element, landscaping should go well with its architecture. For example, formal gardens with neatly clipped hedges and topiary and well-disciplined hydrangea bushes complement Victorian architecture, while an informal planting with lots of color and winding pathways goes well with a cottage-style home. Contemporary architecture calls for straight and clean lines. The main material of construction for hardscape elements such as wood, brick, or stone, can also influence the landscape theme and design. 

Start with a detailed plan

Landscaping is a long-term project involving lots of time, effort, and expenditure, so it should be planned meticulously. Every detail, such as the position of trees and bushes, lawns, garden beds, and pathways should be worked out while keeping the theme and budget in mind. Measure the total space available and draw a rough draft on plain paper. Mark out the house, garden sheds, or any other permanent structures, including large trees that are going to stay on the property. 

Next is listing out all the features that you want in the landscape project, and then demarcating areas for the largest and the most essential among them. The remaining can be adjusted around these, although it may not be possible to include every feature you covet without overcrowding the landscape. Plotting everything on a large graph paper may give you a better idea about the space limitations and help you prioritize the features.

Consider the views

When you plan and plant the landscape, visualizing it from different angles is a must. The view from the street is the most important because that’s what gets most frequently viewed. Curb appeal is not solely for the benefit of the passersby. Your guests and neighbors get the first impression from the front view, but most importantly, this is what welcomes you every time you come home. Unfettered view of the house need not be the goal here; carefully placed trees and shrubbery can offer a sufficient amount of privacy and drama.

The view of the landscape from the house is just as important. It is not easy to visualize the view from different vantage points within the home because what you see from the front porch may be significantly different from how it appears when viewed from an upstairs window. Make sure that large trees or structures don’t spoil the enjoyment of the landscape from the most frequent lookouts.  

Here’s to a successful late summer/fall landscape project!

-Susan Patterson

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