It’s the perfect time to start thinking about landscaping

My husband and I have been thinking of landscaping our yard but we are a bit overwhelmed. Right now, we only have dirt, so we’re starting from scratch. We’re not sure if we’ll do it ourselves or have someone else do it. Can you give us an idea of where to start?

— Joan and Gary

Actually, this is a great time to be thinking about what you want to do with your landscaping. The whole process of landscaping your yard can be overwhelming, but there are several things you can do now that will help get you started.

The first thing I always tell folks is to start with the design. Decide what you want your landscaping to look like. Make a list of your wants and needs as well as favorite trees and plants you would like to see in your yard and that fit your lifestyle.

You wouldn’t dream of building your home without a blueprint, nor should you work on your landscaping without a detailed design.

You then need to decide if you are going to design it yourself or have it done professionally. If you choose to do it yourselves, take the time to research your choices thoroughly. There are a myriad of ideas in books available online, at the library or bookstores.

If you are interested in having it done professionally (where most people end up), there are some great designers in the valley. Give us a call and we can recommend someone.

Sometimes people balk at paying a professional to design the landscape, thinking of the money they’ll spend on the plan and how many plants it would buy instead. Most all of us are on a budget, but I urge you not to skimp here.

Over and over I’ve seen people end up spending more money to fix the problems in their yard over the long haul instead of doing it right from the beginning. I think paying for a professional design is the best money you’ll spend on your yard.

Once you have your plan, decide if you, or professionals, will be carrying it out. If you intend to work on it, be patient. There is a lot to consider and starting from scratch can take two years or more taking on a little at a time.

You’ll need to think about the sprinkler system (being sure to have zones that best work with the plants you have selected), grading, soil preparation (always best done BEFORE any planting), edging, grass (whether to seed or sod), types of plants, how to plant them and mulching materials. Of course, you’ll also need to remember any hardscaping you’d like to include in your plan, such as patios, walkways, ponds and water features.

If the thought of that discourages you, look around to find someone with whom you’ll be comfortable working. First, one of the most important things is to be sure you’re dealing with a reputable company. Ask about experience, years in the business, insurance and any guarantees they may have. Be sure they are members of the Associated Landscaping Contractors of Colorado, an organization intended to foster professionalism in the industry. Personally, I wouldn’t do business with anyone who was not a member.

Check the company’s references. Talk to their customers, look at their yards and ask them about how the company followed up on any questions, comments or complaints. Ask them how happy they are with their landscaping and with the treatment they received.

You may want to get prices from more than one landscape contractor. Having your plan in hand will make it easier for you to get bids from several companies. Remember too, that while most of us live on a budget and costs are something we all need to consider, you often end up getting what you paid for.

Finally, realize that you may have to wait a while to have your project begun as often the more “sought after” landscapers get busy early in the season and stay busy.

You could end up waiting weeks, even months, before your project is started. That’s actually another good reason for you to start planning now. The sooner you know what you want to do, the more quickly you can get in line to get your work done.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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