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Easy Landscape Design Tips for Beginners

Easy Landscape Design Tips for Beginners

There’s nothing better than waking up and looking at a beautiful patch of green grass and having your very own garden being visited by birds and butterflies. Now that the warm summer months are almost here, consider landscaping your garden or yard to fully enjoy what the season has to offer.

If the thought of landscape design worries you, you’re not alone. It can be intimidating to try to make outdoor space look presentable when you have no prior landscaping experience. There’s also the concern of not knowing which kinds of plants to get, how to care for them, or even how to keep them alive for the next several days.

It is understandable if you feel overwhelmed by doing this huge task by yourself. If you have the money, you can always turn to professionals for assistance. If you’re good with your hands, DIY is the better way to go.

If you are a landscape-design beginner, remember that you don’t have to undertake the most difficult projects on your first try. Those pictures you see on Pinterest may look nice, but you may be biting off more than you can chew. Remember, simple is beautiful, and small ideas can make your yard and your whole property look more put together.

Fortunately, we have landscape design experts to share their knowledge and some tips on how to choose plants, colors, designs, and utilize outdoor lighting to create a huge design impact on your property. Proceed below to read what they have to say.

Tamika Todd

Choose distinctive perennials. Keep your landscaping costs low by choosing perennial plants that have a distinct style, texture, or color that will display year-round.

Use wood chips. Adding a layer of wood chips to a dull, boring flower bed helps to keep weeds at bay and make a yard more appealing.

Try pots. If it’s too expensive or strenuous to upgrade your entire yard, try potted plants. Colorful annuals in pots make a great option to add color and pizzazz to a non-appealing front or back yard. Use them to create a pathway to an entry or special area in your yard.

Invest in a table and chair set. Having a table and chairs set in place makes it more inviting to spend time outdoors. Choose one that best suits the size of your yard and family.

Good lighting. Whether you choose solar light stick-in-the-ground lighting or hard-wired, good lighting is key for outdoor enjoyment at night.

Dan Rothermel

Accent your house. Don’t let the landscaping overpower your house. Put tall plants (trees) at the corners and lower plants in front of the house. Also, adding small to medium-sized trees, such as a flowering dogwood or eastern redbud in the lawn, halfway between the street and house adds another dimension. When someone views your house from the street, their eyes will momentarily stop at this tree first before they look at the house.

Brad Unruh

A beautiful green lawn and perfectly manicured property is one way to be the envy of the neighborhood. If professional landscapers aren’t in the budget, there are tips to help you landscape like one.

How to Landscape for Year-Round Appeal

Evergreen shrubs are your best friends when it comes to making your property look good all year long. They constantly provide cover and color, and the options are endless when it comes to sizes, shapes, and textures.

Plant evergreens near your house—especially at the corners—to soften your home’s vertical lines and give it a more inviting appearance, even in the dead of winter.

Create Natural Edges

Rather than buying plastic or metal edging, use plants to make a natural edge around beds. Plus, they allow easier maintenance and give you more flexibility to make future landscape changes.

Connect Points of Interest with Paths

If your landscape has a lot of individual points of interest—gardens, flower beds, firepits, patios, water features—it can end up looking like a jumble of scattered landmarks rather than a unified whole. Creating pathways between points of interest solves this problem. It ties your landscape together and prevents the formation of natural pathways of unhealthy trampled grass along paths of least resistance.

Leave Open Space

Musicians will tell you that the notes you don’t play are just as important as the notes you do play. Landscaping is kind of the same way. Filling every space will only result in a cluttered, messy appearance. The goal is to have a balanced landscape that leads the eye naturally from one point to the next, and the most crucial element is open space.

Robert Himmaugh

Invest in some lawn structures. A beautiful pergola, canopy, or gazebo will become your yard’s focal point. Top it off with some matching lawn furniture and you’re ready to host the next barbecue!

Frame your backyard with a garden. A well-kept garden will tie a yard together beautifully. Plant flowers with colors that coordinate with your house or any outdoor furniture, or put your plants to use and grow vegetables.

Statues, wind chimes, and bird feeders. Choose tasteful outdoor statues that match your aesthetic. If you have a tree, take full advantage with wind chimes and bird feeders. They will create a great ambiance while attracting songbirds that will bring even more life into your yard.

Make sure the grass is healthy. Regular lawn maintenance and mowing will ensure your grass is green and lush throughout the year. Do the same with your foliage; pruning, trimming, and watering will do wonders to the yard’s aesthetic. It will also ward off unwanted pests and other insects.

Francis Côté

Work with flat surfaces such as walls and fences to add curb appeal and design flair to your home. These can provide a perfect canvas for decorations like light fixtures and flower planters, which can reflect your style and improve the look of your outdoor space.

Desiree Thomson

Creating your very own flower beds is a great place to start with landscaping, especially if you’re a beginner. Flower beds have the advantage of fitting perfectly almost anywhere, be it on the side of the house, under a window or even around a mailbox.

They don’t require extensive landscaping knowledge nor many fancy tools to set up. All you need is a shovel, some compost and a little bit of elbow grease. Before you start planting anything in the beds, however, be sure to consult a local professional (a garden store employee), first. They can inform you about which perennials and shrubs are appropriate to grow in your area.

Nick Rorabaugh

Keep all the seasons in mind. Many first time designers will only design with springtime in mind. This makes for a great yard in the spring, but come fall and winter, it can lead to a bare lawn. Spruces, pines, evergreens, and berry bushes are great for maintaining some level of appeal through the winter.

Know what plants compliment each other. Landscape design must consider function as much as fashion. Just because the colors of the two plants look nice together does not mean they biologically pair well. Your local nursery is a great place to ask for advice on complimenting plants.

Centerpieces work. Whether its a tree, a waterwork, or outdoor firepit, having a focal point for your yard brings balance and order to a yard. This is especially true of smaller lawn spaces that owners use for aesthetics.

Steve Brielmaier

There are two simple, cheap & effective tips for any landscape design project. Greenery and lighting. Create a striking backyard, front yard or garden with flowers, trees, and lighting.

Plants are easily maintained and when planted young have the prospect of creating some beautiful shaded areas in the future. Add a colorful blanket of flowers around focal features and paving borders. And finish off with a variety of lighting to serve not only design but also the functionality. Install sensor lighting around walkways and doorways. LED fairy lights in trees or large plants and barn or pendant lighting around seating areas to create an atmosphere for an evening spent outside.

Sacha Ferrandi

Turning your outdoor space into a dream oasis does not have to be hard. There are simple but chic designs that could help you achieve a professional looking space.

Create a Flower Bed Border

Such a simple idea to turn a plain space into a beautiful one. Create a stone edge using stone blocks and fill it with mulch, and flowers and plants of your choice.

Create a Path to a Focused Area

Whether it’s a garden or a patio setup, creating a pathway to a high traffic area is a great way to make the focal point stand out. You can create this easy path by laying out stepping-stones, bricks, or wood pieces.

Alexander Mednick

Most houses have an eclectic mix of plants that don’t make much sense. People buy plants that they like, bring them home, and find a place to put them. This can lead to lots and lots of clutter and most people don’t have the foresight to think about what space will look like in a few years when the plants mature.

One of the basic principles our landscapers use is the principle of cascading plants. When you’re looking at an empty space, you are going to generally want to place the taller plants in the back, medium-sized plants in the middle, and shortest plants in front.

It’s a trivial concept but it is more of an outline than most people will admit to having and can dramatically help you with a starting point in planning your next landscape. Make sure you are looking for plants that do well in areas that get a lot of rain coming off of your roof.

Likewise, if a plant likes shade don’t put it in a sunny area. You need to know how big the plants will be when they mature and when you plant them as juveniles so space them accordingly. It will look more sparse now but you won’t want to rip everything out and to start over in a few years because everything grew together too closely.

Paul Norrell

Level up your outdoor space with a brilliantly shiny gazing globe. Made from stainless steel that’s polished to a mirror-like finish, these ornamental spheres will never tarnish or rust and will withstand even the harshest environmental conditions.

These garden gazing balls are offered in a variety of sizes and add instant flair to a simple garden, or add that eye-catching pop to a more involved landscaping project. This has got to be one of the easiest ways to enhance your landscape!

Pablo Solomon

1. Think in terms of your landscape being part of your lifestyle and try to harmonize your indoor living with outdoor living.

2. Plan your landscaping so that views from the interior blend well and enhance your interior décor.

3. Think of your landscape as accomplishing more than just curb appeal.

4. Plan ahead. The more detailed a vision you have of what you want to accomplish, the more you can save on products, services and time.

5. Plant trees and shrubs in a way that helps your home to save energy.

6. The biggest two mistakes in landscaping are not planning proper drainage and planting trees too close to the foundation.

7. Always choose the most sustainable, long lasting, maintenance free materials that you can afford. e.g., In the long run, it pays to have a slightly smaller brick patio than a larger wooden one.

8. While individual creativity in design is good, do not go so far in the individual directions as to alienate neighbors by sticking out like a sore thumb. Try to tie in with both the natural setting and your neighborhood look.

9. Think in terms of creating a view that are basically "postcards". It actually helps to use an empty picture frame to get an idea of what to do.

10. One of the least expensive ways to add a lot of interest and depth to your landscape is with an earthen berm.

11. With solar powered lights and pumps, you now have a lot more inexpensive option to be creative.

12. Plant native plants and grasses when possible. They will require less water and maintenance tend to be more disease and insect resistant.

Donna Atanasova

The most important aspect of your landscape design is, of course, the plants. A great idea for beginners is using perennials - the backbone of any landscape. They are great low-maintenance plants because you buy them once and they come back every year.

Also, they don’t need a lot of attention. Many perennials can survive without much water in rocky and other challenging spaces. Depending on your climate, some may even keep their leaves through the winter. Of course, you need to find the plants, which suit best your individual garden style but popular choices include clematis, phlox, peonies, hibiscus, lavender, some types of daisies and violets.

Key Takeaways

One of the things that stand out from all the answers given by our experts is that planning makes a big difference in landscape design. You can get away with not having a lot of budget just as long as you do your research by scouring the internet or asking for help from garden-store employees and by knowing what you want for your garden or yard. With all the information available out there, you will be able to make that dream garden a reality.


Easy and simple landscaping design ideas work. There is no wrong way to work on your yard or garden just as long as you are familiar with the plants you are working with. As a beginner, you’re not expected to transform your outdoor area overnight. You can start small and work on it until all your design plans are realized.

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