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well landscaped backyard with multiple levels of tiered planting beds filled with foliage

The Beginner’s Guide to Landscaping

Interested in improving your home’s curb appeal, but not sure where to begin? In this guide, we walk you through the basics of landscaping, its benefits for your home, and ways you can get started with landscape design!

What Is Landscaping?

Landscaping is making changes to a piece of land to improve its appearance, viability, and value. It can involve altering the architecture, plants, and exterior design of an area. Landscaping is commonly confused with gardening. While the two are similar, gardening focuses on maintaining plants and flowers, while landscaping refers to designing and cultivating an entire area.

What Are the Benefits of Landscaping?

From boosting your home’s property value to providing environmental benefits and lowering your energy costs, landscaping has wide-ranging benefits.

Increases Home Value

green home with white trim in the sunlight with nice landscaping in the fall photo by Instagram user @brightenmade

Photo via @brightenmade

Homeowners are always looking for ways to improve the resale value of their homes, but home remodels and square footage additions may not always be in the cards. Fortunately, landscaping is a great way to boost value without breaking the bank! Homes with landscaped yards can sell for as much as 12.7% more than those without landscaping. Well-groomed yards can also help sell your home faster by making a strong first impression with homebuyers. In fact, 94% of realtors advise clients to improve the curb appeal of their home before listing.

Good for the Environment

Did you know landscaping can impact air quality? Adding one tree alone can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Not to mention, lawns can keep 12 million tons of dust and dirt from being released into the atmosphere annually. Planting trees, shrubs, and flowers also create more oxygen and reduce soil erosion.

Reduces Energy Costs

On average, a well-designed landscape saves enough money in energy costs to pay for itself in eight years. Strategically planting shrubs and trees around your home can save you up to 35% on air conditioning costs and cut heating bills by 10-25%.

Extend Your Home Outdoors

Landscaping can make way for outdoor living spaces like patios, outdoor kitchens, gardens, pools, and more. Though these spaces don’t count toward additional square footage or livable space, they are an extension of your home and allow you to better utilize your property.

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How to Get Started with Landscaping

Before you dive into a landscaping project, it’s good to have a plan. Once you’ve determined what landscape design elements you’d like to incorporate into your yard, you can start to see the project scope, budget, and timeline. This will help you decide whether to do it yourself or hire a landscaping company.

DIY Landscaping

two story home with small tree planted and DIY wooden planters at the front of the house photo by Instagram user @bfulk.handmade

Photo via @bfulk.handmade

Maybe it’s just adding edging around the shrubs in front of your house or creating a stone path through your backyard. If your budget is limited and your landscape needs are smaller, a DIY landscape project may be the right solution for you.

DIY landscaping has several advantages. You can save money doing it yourself, as you won’t have to budget for labor and consultation hours on top of the necessary materials. You can also work your landscape project around your own schedule, meaning you won’t be waiting on anyone but yourself to get the work done.

Of course, the DIY option has disadvantages, too. You’re responsible for determining and plotting your landscape design. You have to gather the necessary materials—and you may not get the same prices that a landscaping company could get on bulk supplies. Not to mention, it’s easy to underestimate how much time and effort even small landscape projects require.

But if you’re up for the challenge and have the resources for working on your yard, give DIY landscaping a try!

Hire a Landscaping Company

professional front landscaping with pagced driveway and lots of foliage photo by Instagram user @alpine_gardens

Photo via @alpine_gardens

If your green thumb isn’t strong, you don’t have the time to invest in a DIY landscaping project, or you have a large-scale landscape design in mind for your property, hiring a professional landscaping company is a smart choice.

What’s great about hiring a landscaping company is you have professionals working on your yard. Not only do they work with you to plan your design and set project timelines, but they also have a team to execute your vision so that you’re not doing the work yourself. And while landscaping companies can be a good option for all project sizes and budgets, they’re especially helpful with bigger landscape needs.

But hiring outside help can have its drawbacks as well. In many cases, hiring professional landscapers comes at higher cost than the DIY route—you can even run into situations where you end up going over your budget as project scope, materials, and hours change. In addition, you could encounter weather delays, company staff changes, and other unforeseen work interruptions that can change your timeline.

If you’re thinking about hiring a professional company to do your landscape design, be sure to shop around, research companies, and check online reviews. This can help you find the right professionals to help you with your project and stay within your budget and on your ideal schedule.

Basic Landscape Design Elements

Thinking about what landscaping you want on your property? Though you’ll probably have your own unique ideas for how you want your yard to look and what features you’ll want to highlight, there are a few simple architectural elements you’ll want to incorporate into your landscape.


If you’re looking for ways to make your landscape stand out, emphasize lines in your design. Lines create focal points with landscape objects like a water feature or flower garden by naturally creating pathways for the eye to follow. Whether it’s a perceived line (i.e., several objects in a row leading to a location) or a physical path or walkway leading to the feature, lines provide direction for your landscape design.


Form helps you achieve your desired landscape aesthetic by highlighting the three-dimensional elements of objects to create a visual theme in your yard. Looking for a more welcoming, cozy feel? Rounded plants and curved walkways give your landscape a sense of fluidity that feels more intimate. Or maybe you’d prefer a more traditional, formal look? Rigid structures and straight lines can convey formality and provide clear distinctions between outdoor spaces.


backyard landscaping with large trees and colorful planters with a paved pathway leading to a bench photo by Instagram user @rswalsh

Photo via @rswalsh

One of the most important design elements is color, which helps set the mood for your landscape design. Warm colors such as red, yellow, and orange create excitement and make objects feel closer. On the other hand, cool colors like blue, green, and purple offer a more tranquil feel. You can use colors in unity to convey an overall look or in contrast to create depth and separate different areas of your yard.


Most commonly used in gardens, texture adds variety and visual interest to your landscape. Stems, leaves, trunks, and flowers all have different textures (i.e., coarse, medium, fine, heavy, light). Similarly, pavements, water features, and other hardscape materials incorporate different textural elements into the look of your yard. You can even mix different textures to create depth and balance in your yard.

Looking for more outdoor ideas and inspiration? Check out these tips for creating an outdoor living space on a budget or giving your backyard a DIY makeover!

***Pinterest Graphic: Landscaping 101: Everything You Need to Know