Smart landscape design principles

With the winter winds blowing, we’re snuggled up inside dreaming of spring.

If your dreams of spring include savoring more of the warm months outside with updated landscaping, we’ve put together design and planning tips to help you be ready to go when the air is warmer.

First, think about your goals for your outdoor space. Do you envision a place for entertaining? A new playscape for the kids? A quiet place to relax and read? Space for a garden?

Brainstorm all the ways you want to use your outdoor space and the type of environment you want to create. Write down details such as colors, textures, and shapes you want to add.

Draw your property. Add your vision.

Start by sketching out an aerial outline of your property and its features to scale. Make sure it includes your house and the elements that won’t move, such as trees, shrubs, hills, decks and patios. Note the locations that have full sun, partial shade, and deep shade. Also mark which areas have good privacy and the general direction of the wind.

Include measurements of the dimensions if you can. Make multiple copies so you can come up with varied renderings. Now add the features that will help bring your vision to life. This could include anything, but here are a few ideas.

  • Outdoor fireplace
  • Flowerbeds
  • Water feature
  • Swing
  • Retaining wall
  • Pathways
  • Outdoor bar
  • Deck
  • Outdoor dining set
  • Firepit
  • Adirondack gliders
  • Patio
  • Decorative boulders
  • Landscaped areas
  • Pergola

We recommend adding the biggest features first and filling everything else in around those elements.

Keep it coordinated

Having a master plan is a great start to keeping your space coordinated. As you develop the plan, think about the way each element is linked to its surroundings to achieve an overall effect of unity. Use elements like color and material similarity to impart cohesion. Features like pathways and retaining walls do double duty by helping coordinate while adding points of interest as well.

Your home and existing features should be the foundational inspiration. Take the colors already featured there and use the color wheel to identify shades that work in harmony.

    • Primary colors are red, blue, and yellow
    • Secondary colors are green, purple, and orange
    • Tertiary colors blend secondary and primary colors
    • Neutrals are white, gray, and silver


Knowing that, you can then determine the color scheme you want to employ in your space.

  • Complementary colors are opposite from each other on the color wheel. Yellow and blue are examples of complementary colors because they are opposite each other.
  • Monochromatic color is the use of various tints and shades of one color, such as purple and violet.
  • Analogous colors, are next to each other on the color wheel, such as blue and purple or red and orange.

Mulch, pavers, stone, and gravel all come in a variety of colors to unify your landscape by building onto what’s already there.

Keep it simple

Less done right can add up to more. Plan your design using two or three large features that complement your home and its existing elements. Fill in the space around large features using clean lines that direct the eye to their focal points. Keep the space balanced and use repetition, but don’t be afraid to mix it up within the color scheme, textures, and shapes you’ve established.

Get ready for spring

Give us a call and we can help you get started on your plan! We love any excuse to think about spring and all its possibilities.