How to Design Your Own Yard Landscaping


A successfully landscaped yard is an extension of your indoor living space that incorporates artistic elements with principles of design such as unity, balance, transition, proportion, rhythm, repetition and simplicity. Proper planning and analysis leads to an outdoor living area that is functional, harmonious and aesthetically pleasing.

Things You'll Need

  • Grid paper for creating a blueprint
  • Measuring tape


  • Use grid paper to draw a blueprint of your lot and accurately plot the placement of your house on the lot. Note window and door dimensions and the placement of driveways and walkways.

  • Analyze your yard and note the existing trees and plants and their condition. Decide whether you will incorporate them or remove them. Also note the soil condition, land elevation, rainfall distribution and light and shade patterns. All these factors will play a role in plant selection and outdoor living areas.

  • Assess your needs and desires for the outdoor living area. If you have children, you may want to designate a play area or an eating area if you do a lot of entertaining. Sketch an outline of these areas on your blueprint. Add privacy features such as hedges or fences you may want.

  • Add water features to your yard's landscaping. Pools, spas, ponds and fountains create elements of moving water, which give a relaxed feel to an outdoor living space.

  • Introduce flowing curved lines for walkways and plant beds. Straight lines are harsh to the eye while curves blend better with nature.


  • Select plants that will thrive in the area you would like to plant in. Pick plants that will be happy with the water-drainage, sunlight and shade patterns, and land form of a particular spot. Also consider the plant's mature size when planting and spacing.

  • Plant trees in areas where you want shade. Play areas, outdoor eating or relaxing areas are ideal places for shade.

  • Choose plants that will create seasonal variety in the yard. If you pick only springtime bloomers, then come fall your yard will look lifeless and boring. Plant deciduous shrubs next to springtime bulbs and summer perennials.

  • Create balance and unity by using plants with similar or complementary shape, form, texture or color. Too much variety or detail leads to confusion while repetition leads to rhythm. However, if overdone, repetition can become monotonous.

Tips & Warnings

  • When deciding how many plants you will need for an area, remember to calculate on the basis of the plant's mature size rather than the size it is when you plant it.
  • Use native plants in your landscape that will thrive in your climate and soil, as well as attract beneficial wildlife.

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  • "Master Gardener Handbook"; University of Florida IFAS Extension; 2008-2009
  • "Natural Landscapes: How to Design, Build and Plant Your Landscape with Nature In Mind"; John Brooke; 1998
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images Hemera Technologies/ Images
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