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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Landscaping 101

by National Gardening Association Editors

We wish we could tell you that creating a landscape was a sure-fire proposition, as easy as "one-two-three." The truth is that home landscaping that really works and pleases its owners is the product of a fair amount of time and attention. Mind you, it's work of the most pleasant sort, but it will take some effort on your part. Over the years, we've come to the conclusion that the more specific you can be with your landscaping likes and dislikes, and the more concrete you can be in describing your dreams and desires, the more likely you'll end up with a successful landscape. This is the best way to ensure that your landscape turns out the way you want it to be.

Your Landscaping Scrapbook

In an effort to be as specific and concrete as possible, the first step into your new landscape is a purely imaginary one--a scrapbook filled with specific images that appeal to you. Here are the supplies you'll need to assemble: a binder, approximately 200 sheets of binder paper, scissors, several sharp pencils with good erasers, tape, ruler, and a few sheets of standard graph paper.

With these materials--combined with an armful of home and garden magazines--the object is to create your own personal garden design scrapbook. The scrapbook will be invaluable on trips to the nursery, hardware store, or lumberyard, and it will help you avoid disappointments when you deal with contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, concrete masons, and landscapers.

If you take the time to create a binder filled with the specifics of what you like in a garden, you'll go a long way in answering questions decisively. Instead of waving your hands in the air and hoping for the best, your landscaping binder will allow you to point to the exact thing you want: "I want this pattern picket for the fence, with this type of finial on the posts, the whole thing painted white, with a gate exactly like this, with this--right here--this set of hinges and that type of latch." In their defense, contractors and tradespeople are put in a difficult position when they are expected to make real what they think is in the client's mind. So do everyone a favor: Assemble your own landscaping scrapbook before the first shovelful of earth is turned.

Each time you see something appealing in a photograph or illustration, cut the picture out of the magazine and tape it to a piece of binder paper. Be sure to make notations on the paper as to what it is, specifically, that you like. Three months later, in an entirely different frame of mind, you may find yourself wondering what it was in the photograph that caught your eye.

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