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A checklist to guide you with your green space

REAL ESTATE
By Hosea Omole | April 21st 2016

You have just moved into your new home. You are excited about the prospect of finally having some green space and you can’t wait to turn it into beautiful garden.

The temptation to get straight to planting your favourite trees, flowers and lawn can be overwhelming. But if you do so you are likely to end up making mistakes that will not only be costly to undo later on but also produce a much less exciting garden that lacks character and functionality.

If, however, you take a little time to think through before you begin, you would have much higher chances of success.

Ask yourself if you have adequate knowledge and time to see your landscaping project through. If you don’t, consider hiring a professional to advice and draw up a landscape plan for you. From there, you have the option of executing the plan yourself or engaging a landscape contractor to build it for you under the supervision of the professional.

Study the Site

Take a long and hard look at your site. Don’t assume anything. Study the views into and out of the site, the slope, the soils, the sun and shade patterns, the existing vegetation, structures and utility lines, the availability of water and the neighbourhood; everything that may affect the final outcome of your garden.

As you do so, note the positive aspects of the site that you would like to enhance and more importantly, problem areas. As you will be thinking about the design, try and find solutions to these problem areas and how you can fully utilize the positives. The best landscape designs are those that draw fully from existing site features.

What are your needs?

Many people assume that they already know what they need and therefore skirt around this step only to realize later that their garden does not meet some of their most important needs. What’s your family’s size? How do you spend your free time? Do you plan to live in this home for the long-term or for just a few years?

How about your guests? Do you frequently entertain small groups of close family and friends or a larger group of business acquaintances? The answers to these and more questions will determine what you need and what you don’t need in your design.

Consider maintenance

Ask yourself how you are placed with regards to maintaining your garden in the long term. Will you have the time and money to consistently take care of a high maintenance garden of do you need a garden that can do with minimal tending? The decision you make here will have a major bearing on the kind and amount of plant materials you use.

Get rough cost estimates for everything you would like to have on your garden. These can be obtained from an experienced professional, friends who have done similar projects or from suppliers of specific garden features. Don’t be intimidated into dropping the project if the total cost looks too prohibitive.

With a good plan in place you can always phase out the project over a comfortable period. Do what you can afford immediately and progressively add the other parts until eventually you have your dream garden.

—The writer is a landscape architect

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