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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. Commonly confused with gardening, landscaping refers to designing and cultivating an entire area, whereas gardening focuses only on the maintenance of plants and flowers.

What Are the Benefits of Landscaping?

From increasing your home value to providing environmental benefits and lowering energy costs, here are some of the wide-ranging benefits of landscaping.

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% more than those without landscaping. In fact, 92% of realtors advise clients to improve the curb appeal of their homes before listing, as a well-groomed yard typically helps sell your home faster by making a strong first impression with homebuyers.

Supports the Environment

Landscaping your property gives you the chance to introduce pollinator-friendly and native plants for an eco-friendly yard! Choosing native plants not only helps the local ecosystem but also “weeds out” the need for harsh chemicals and pesticides. Additionally, landscaping can impact air quality for the better. Adding one tree alone can remove up to 88 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, not to mention that lawns absorb 12 million tons of dust and dirt annually, keeping the air cleaner. Planting trees, shrubs, and flowers also creates more oxygen and reduces soil erosion.

Reduces Energy Costs

On average, a well-designed landscape saves enough money in energy costs to pay for itself in eight years. Simple things like picking plants that don’t require frequent watering and implementing hardscaping can reduce your water bill. Similarly, strategically planting shrubs and windbreak trees around your home are other energy conservation techniques that can save you up to 35% on air conditioning costs and cut heating bills by 10-25%.

Extends Your Home Outdoors

Landscaping can help you create 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, allowing your household to enjoy more space—whether you want your kids to be able to run around in the yard, or have room to host backyard parties!

How to Get Started with Landscaping

Before you dive into a landscaping project, it’s good to have a plan and educate yourself on how you can execute your landscape design. Having a flexible plan will help you manage time and save money while landscaping your yard. Create your landscape design with these pre-work considerations!

Determine Your Wants & Must-Haves

Before getting started on your landscaping, consider your wants and needs. Most importantly, think about how you want to use the space—do you want more open space for kids to run around or do you prefer a landscape that’s full of different features? Budget for your project, be mindful of HOA regulations, and take into consideration the plants and features that will work best in your outdoor space. Be sure to check that plants you choose will survive in your plant hardiness zone. It’s also important to look at how much sun and shade different areas of your yard get so you can put plants in the appropriate areas based on their light needs.

Anticipate Maintenance Needs

It’s important to think about how much time and money you’re willing to invest in landscape maintenance activities like mowing, trimming, weeding, and fertilizing. Different plants require more attention than others—if you enjoy a challenge or want to make landscaping a regular part of your routine, you may be willing to dedicate more time to your yard. However, if you’re busy or simply don’t enjoy the work, it’s best to implement low-maintenance landscaping ideas.

Set a Pace

Landscaping for beginners can be overwhelming—you don’t have to do everything all at once. Whether you plan to go the DIY landscaping route or hire contractors, set a reasonable schedule for your outdoor makeover. Plan out the location of the biggest items like trees, gazebos, water features, or pergolas first, then fill in the leftover space with your desired plants. Pace yourself and approach your landscaping design with intention.

Go with 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

DIY landscaping’s several advantages include saving money and having the ability to go at your own pace. Do-it-yourself landscaping projects also give you complete control over every aspect of the creative direction. Instead of your local landscaping company taking the lead, you have the chance to add your personal touch! Pick all the trees, plants, shrubs, and other greenery you want. You may get a bit dirty, but if you’re up for a fun challenge, give DIY landscaping a try!

. . . Or Hire a Landscaping Company

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

Photo via @alpine_gardens

Hiring a professional company to landscape your yard is perfect if you don’t have a strong green thumb, don’t have the time to invest in a landscaping project, or have a large-scale landscaping design in mind. Landscaping contractors work with you to plan a design and set project timelines, then execute your vision using their team and expertise. If you’re thinking about hiring a professional landscape company, be sure to compare options and check online reviews. This can help you find the right professionals to complete your project while staying within budget and on schedule.

Basic Landscape Design Elements

Thinking about what landscaping features you want on your property? Here are a few simple art elements to keep in mind when creating your landscape design.


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 would you prefer a more traditional formal look? Rigid structures and straight lines can convey formality and provide clear distinctions between outdoor spaces.


One of the most important design elements is color, which helps set the mood for your landscape design. Warm colors like 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.


The most commonly used element 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, and light). Similarly, pavements, water features, and other hardscape materials incorporate different textural elements into the look of your yard. Mix different textures to create depth, balance, and intrigue in the space.


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