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Skaggs: Plan ahead for landscape additions
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Considering the water situation, fall landscape planting is not high on many homeowners’ list of things to do.

While understandable, fall is a great time to plan for future landscape additions and renovations.

Certainly, many professional landscape designers and contractors offer such services, but if you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, why not give it a go on your own? Before you dig the first hole, however, do your homework.

The initial steps are definitely the most important in any landscape project. In particular, the first phase of planning a landscape should involve self-examination.

1. Determine how you want to use your landscape. Will it be for entertaining, kids’ play area, pet area, curb appeal or a combination of these? Can you divide the landscape into separate areas for separate functions?

2. Determine how much time you can honestly devote to landscape maintenance. Pictures in garden magazines are tantalizing, but unless the caption specifically mentions low maintenance you can be assured that someone spent a lot of time achieving and maintaining the effect.

4. Do a rough sketch of your yard. Know where north, south, east and west are and note which way your house faces. Remember to note on your sketch where existing plant material is located, especially large trees.

5. Keep in mind functionality and serviceability; i.e. a pathway for the lawn mower, location of spigot(s), accessibility to plants for pruning, etc.

6. Design for year-round color and texture. Start with evergreen foundation plants, then add deciduous trees and shrubs and fill in with perennials and annuals. Implement a water-efficient landscape by using heat- and drought-tolerant native species.

7. Place large deciduous trees on the south side of the house; this will shade the home in the summer and allow sunshine to heat up the home in winter.

8. Keep your landscape flowing and unified by occasionally repeating plant groupings. Create a clean edge on all your borders, walkways, islands, etc.

9. Know the mature size of your plant material. You don’t want to plant a Leyland Cypress next to your mailbox or under your electric service lines.

For more information, check out the UGA Extension publication, Drawing a Landscape Plan, online at

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994. E-mail:

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