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5 Secrets to Landscape Success

1. Think way ahead

It's sunny now, but will it be in a few years? Once the trellis is built, the garden shed goes up and the trees get big, will you still have sunshine where you want it? That sunny wildflower patch you envision by the fence won't work if you plant trees there now. You can move some plants later, but your basic layout should incorporate changing shade patterns.

2. Look inside-out

Sit at the kitchen table or in the den and look out at your landscape-to-be. What would you like to see? Plan views from the inside looking out so you get as much pleasure from landscaping when you're in your house as when you're outside.

3. Be realistic about your commitment

Almost anything can look good on paper, but a year down the road, cool ideas can become problems. Will you really prune that rose or aggressive vine? Will you keep the fence painted and sealed? Will you clean and maintain your pond or fountain? Plan plants and features you know you can handle.

4. Light up your yard

Make lighting an integral feature of your deck, patio, paths and other landscape areas. It's not only beautiful; it's important for safety, and it will allow you to use your yard past sundown. There are so many types of lighting available, you can find lots of options that meld with your garden's style.

5. Diagnose problems quickly

If your lawn or plants suddenly develop problems such as spots, holes or discoloration, identify the culprit. Look into soil conditions, sunlight, watering, fertilization, mowing, pests (such as the beetle damage shown at left) and diseases. If you're unsure of the problem, contact your county extension office or visit a local gardening center for help. Quick identification can save your landscaping.

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