Before you begin your garden renovations, ask yourself what you most want to accomplish.
There are a few deciding factors you will need to consider before you begin. Above all, your climate will determine what plants you will be able to grow and what materials you will be able to use in your garden. Climate includes temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Be assured that there are perennials that grow in every climate; it just takes a little research to find out which ones will grow best in your area.
Do you know your hardiness zone? Click here to find yours. Developed by the US Dept. of Agriculture, the hardiness zone map shows the average coldest temperature for every region in the United States. There are 11 hardiness zones with 1 being the coldest. If you live in zone 5 and your plants are hardy to zone 3, they will have a very good chance of surviving the winter. However, if your plants are only hardy to zone 7, they will likely be killed by the cold zone 5 winter temperatures.
As with most things in life, our budgets have a big influence over our landscaping projects. Before you begin, you will need to decide how much you can afford. Keep in mind that you can implement your complete landscape design over a number of months or even years to spread out the cost, so don’t let your budget limit your dreams.
It’s important to budget for the high ticket items first: the design, hardscape materials and installation, large specimen plants such as trees, and your focal point. These items will be the “bones” of the garden, the items which define its structure and organization. Install these items first, then work your way down the list from there.
Before you decide which plants and other materials you’d like to use in your garden, you’ll need to decide how much time you have to spend maintaining them. If you will not have time to pull weeds, be sure to space plants close together and mulch the ground well between them. Similarly, you may opt for a brick retaining wall rather than one made of wood which will require upkeep.
If you hire a professional designer, be sure to let them know up front how much time you will have to spend on maintenance so they can design with the appropriate materials. Remember, there is no such thing as a maintenance-free landscape. That is, unless you hire a gardener!