Though indoor-outdoor living offers dozens of benefits for mental, emotional and physical health, getting started on a garden can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Choosing the layout, types of plants and overall design of an outdoor space can take just as much intention and commitment as creating a stunning interior. Both the exterior and interior must respond effectively to the architecture of the home while honoring the personality and lifestyle of its inhabitants. Thankfully, with the help of local experts and just a little bit of research, you too can design a beautiful, fully functional backyard. Follow below for five tips on landscape design for beginners.

5 Landscaping Design Tips for Beginners

#1 Research Native Plants for a Low-Maintenance Garden

Opting for native plants rather than exotic species can save money and time on maintenance. The ASLA article5 Reasons Native Plants Help You Save Money and the Planet notes that native plants are more likely to survive and thrive because they “have evolved over thousands of years” in their area, learning to “grow in harmony with the environment, the soil, the water supply, the varying weather throughout all the seasons, and other native companions.” Because of this, native plants rarely require excessive watering, feeding or other care — making them perfect for the newly minted gardener.

#2 Think About the Flow Between Interior and Exterior

Before planting new plants or uprooting the old, consider how you will use your outdoor space. Think about the ways in which you hope to entertain guests, spend time with family and flow between the exterior and interior of the home. Consider also how the exterior will blend with the interior, matching textures and tones from the backyard to the living room or kitchen. Whether your home’s interior is casual and Bohemian or formal and classic, your backyard should reflect some of the same. The Better Homes & Gardens articleThe Elements of Great Landscape Designrecommends “extend[ing] that style to your landscape design” by carrying colors and even furniture between spaces.

#3 Hardscape Before Planting

Prior to spreading new soil or mulch and peppering your garden with gorgeous new plants, we suggest hardscaping the space first. For those unfamiliar with the term, writer David Beaulieu explains in his articleWhat Is Hardscape? for The Spruce. Beaulieu writes that hardscaping “can include almost any type of decorative or practical structure in a landscape, from driveways to fences to benches.” Hardscaping is essential to landscape design because it provides “definition and a sense of organization to the natural areas and features.” In contrast, the term “softscaping” refers to “all of the living and organic elements in a garden or on a lawn, such as trees, flowers, and grass.” Hardscaping is important as a preliminary step because it defines how you will use your space, outlining paths and patios while potentially affecting the quality of the soil.

#4 Weed Existing Garden Beds

Weeding before you plant is essential to starting off fresh and maintaining a healthy garden in the future. The Gilmour article Weed-free Gardening: Learn How to Prevent Weeds from Growing Before They Start!explains why establishing a garden free from weeds is important when starting out. Gilmour notes that “weeds compete with grass and garden plants for space, light, water and soil nutrients,” eliminating the blank slate most beginning gardeners hope for. Weeds not only “look bad and have the ability to take over quickly, they’re also the perfect hosts for disease and insects.”

#5 Ask a Landscape Designer or Landscape Victoria Member for Ideas

Though effort and enthusiasm will get any new gardener quite far, very little can match the value of expert advice. In her article10 Tips to Start a Garden — Can-Do Ideas for Beginnersfor Houzz, Alison Hodgson recommends cleaning well, starting slowly and “consult[ing] a landscape designer for more tips” if you find yourself stuck. For tips on how to choose the right landscaper designer for you – click here

Happy Landscaping