Never underestimate the value of professional landscape designers. Trained to know which plants work best and which designs function best, they can save you time, money and heartache. "There is much more to landscaping than popping shrubs around a house," says Peggy Krapf, a member of the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers. "Good landscaping has a real artistic component — integrating architecture, plants and functionality — similar to interior decorating." Here's what Krapf and two other Virginia landscape designers say about good garden design:
Consider your architecture
I love to bring the architecture of the house into the garden. "Connecting them with fencing is a wonderful way to enclose the garden — making it feel like an extension of the house. Be sure to use compatible materials and colors in the outdoor spaces. If your home has a brick foundation, be sure to choose a matching or blending color for walks and pathways. Pick out paint colors for fencing, furniture and sheds that echo the accent or trim colors on the house. Choose a favorite flower color and repeat it around the garden for a cohesive look.
Peggy Krapf of Heart's Ease Landscape and Garden Design in Williamsburg, Va.
Develop your plan
Develop a plan, make your wish list, set your budget, know the local climate and imagine how you will use the space. Also, consider maintenance. Do you enjoy the garden? How much time do you have to spend?
Do not restrict your landscape to only plants. Decks and patios transition your home from the inside out. If you have a patio, consider a pergola or arbor. If you have a garden path, consider a gate. This adds another unique piece to your garden design.
Eric Bailey of Landscapes by Eric Bailey in Newport News, Va.
Evaluate your curb appeal
Always stand at the curb in front of your home and look at any issues that steal attention from the front door. Block unattractive neighboring views with trees and shrubs to keep the eye on your property.
Hide trash and recycling cans from view.
Always consider the colors and architectural design style of the house when choosing plants, flowers, paving materials and pots for front yards. Ideally, paving materials should reflect the same color as the roof.
Placing a tree between the curb and the house gives a sense of added depth to the front yard; 90 percent of front yard shrubs should be evergreen.
Keep shrubs well below windows and clear from paths to avoid an unmaintained look.
Brown is the most natural-looking mulch color and works well with green plants."
Tami Eilers of McDonald Garden Center in Hampton, Va.