Asked on May 21, 2012

how does landscaping work? what would you suggest I start with in a completely new garden?

Garden InspireDouglas HuntEd Z


New space is going to have no grass or anything in it, with no patio - so we'd want to add grass, maybe patio for grilling on it - but we really don't know where to start. What do landscaping contractors cost? What can they do? Are there any basic things we need to know in advance?
8 answers
  • KMS Woodworks
    on May 21, 2012

    with a fresh clean palette like this I would get the input from a few landscape "designers" ...nothing beats a fresh new project. When new home a re built it is not uncommon for 20% of the budget to go toward landscaping. People are often surprised by this number.

  • Barb C
    on May 21, 2012

    At least start with an overall design! Nothing worse than putting in the $ and work then saying "Oh, I should have done or added something and it's too late!"

  • Are you wanting to do the work yourselves or hire a professional landscaper. First decide for sure how you'll want to use the new space. I also suggest that you get at least two estimates (if you are going to use a professional). If you are going to do the work yourselves, I suggest gathering a few magazines and books that relate to this subject. There are some very good ones out there to guide the novice. Barb C is correct: you must have a design BEFORE you begin, otherwise you could end up with something that does not suit your needs and may not look "together". Best wishes.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on May 22, 2012

    An urban backyard may not get enough light to support grass. That's one of many things you will want to check out. If you're starting from a completely blank canvas, I think it's a good idea to bring in a pro. You can end up spending more on mistakes than the garden designer costs you.

  • Laura K
    on May 22, 2012

    Unless you're going to cover the whole yard with a patio the BIGGEST thing to remember is that the stuff on top, (grass, shrubs, flowers, veggies) will only do as well as the dirt it's planted in. If you're starting from scratch don't skimp on your soil and you won't regret it.

  • Ed Z
    on May 22, 2012

    where do you get good soil from in the ny state area?

  • Douglas Hunt
    on May 23, 2012

    Before you think about buying topsoil, you should have your soil tested. In New York this is done by Cornell University. You'll find all the particulars here: Note that they stop taking samples after July 15, so the time to do it is now.

  • Garden Inspire
    on May 31, 2012

    A basic plan is important. It is easier to plant grass only where you want it instead of needing to remove the grass later. What do you want to do with your yard and what do you need from it? Vegetable or other edible gardening? Entertaining? Do you need areas for children or pets? Composting? Place to hide the garbage can? The best thing for improving your soil is organic matter. Check around for good sources of compost. Ask what the compost is made from so you know what you are getting and if it really is compost instead of compost mixed with peat moss or topsoil. Biosolids refers to composted human waste.

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