Are there any "helpful hints" when designing my dream outdoor space

I have a fairly large yard compared to most others in my area and I have really got into "fixing up" and " relaxing" outdoors even when it's hit out ( I have plenty of shade) the problems I'm having are 1) I feel like I've got 10 big projects 20 smaller projects and 40 baby projects all going on at the same time, as with MOST people I have no built in money tree nor have a recently won a lottery so I kind of have to take it slow when doing any sort of upgrades but how do I simultaneously make improvements on a limited income while still incorporating trendy ideas that make my family want to enjoy the outdoors without getting overwhelmed or overly ambitious? I feel like I'm just chasing my tail without a plan or final ta-da moment

  5 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jun 12, 2018
    finish one area at a cannot be focused if your mind is all over the yard.choose the area that is most important
  • Dfm Dfm on Jun 12, 2018
    It sounds like you need to make a to do list, and set priorities. What projects add value to your property? You can chat with a realtor..they know what does and doesn’t add value.
  • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Jun 12, 2018
    Work on one area at a time - preferably the area which you can see from a seating area, or an area you would like to make into a seating area.

    Decide if you need a truck full of top soil. Most people do, when starting a new yard landscaping projects. Nothing will grow (well) in bad soil. Fix these problems first (if they exist), as well as any drainage issues, sloping etc. These cannot really be fixed well, once you start landscaping.

    Start going to Lowes or other big box stores during the week, even Walmart. Look to the clearance shrubs / bushes. They will sell things that will grow in your area. Azaleas in my area grow really well. They are past their blooming time now - I picked up 2 for 3.00 each. Last year I got 2 Knock out Roses for$1.00 each. If you are patient you can landscape this way. They also sell perennial flowers this way. This can be a savings of 75% to more in the cost of growing shrubs and landscaping. Most of the time these will perk up with a little Miracle Grow.

    See if you have a Habitat For Humanity Restore in your region. They sell this and that lumbar, leftover building supplies. Also used furniture. Even outside furniture. I got some nice white new stair blasters that I was able to incorporate into my garden. Also garage sales / church sales are a good source of outside furniture which may just need cleaning , new cushions or a paint job.

    Also see if you have any horticultural societies. They sometimes give away trees. See if you have any friends with Extra bushes sprouting up, or perennials they want to share. I got a nice Holly tree this way. Friends had a tree that had produced babies. Now it is 5 ft tall.
    • Laura Rader Laura Rader on Jun 13, 2018
      Thank you! The information you shared has already helped! I was getting very overwhelmed, having big blank space is often harder to tackle because theres so many great ideas and getting an organized plan is already making me breathe easier
  • Lina Splichal Lina Splichal on Jun 12, 2018
    Do you have an overall plan? That is where I like to start. Get a piece of graph paper and draw out the perimeter of your yard. Mark out where things already are that you intend to keep. Then pencil in what you want and where. Break that plan down into doable sections and work on one section at a time. If there are things that you intend to do in several sections, do them all at once. For example, if you end up with 8 sections and you want bulb plants in 5 sections, plant them all at the same time. If you are putting a firepit in one area, complete that section in one season.
  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Jun 12, 2018
    One idea for planning: Get a big drawing pad or notebook. Measure your backyard from back door to back fence and side to side. Draw your picture of your backyard now with pencil, using a 12:1 scale. Every foot (12”) of the backyard is an inch on your tablet. Be sure to include driveways, side yards, and paths, if you consider them part of the backyard. If your paper is large enough, go 6”=1” on the tablet.

    Once you have the borders of the backyard drawn, either make copies or redraw the borders on a few more sheets of paper. On the top copy sketch in what you already have in the backyard, including trees, cement pads, water faucets, and other things not likely to be moved. I like to use colored pencils for all my geographical designs since color is a big deal to me. Draw in the completed or nearly completed projects. Keep the sketches simple.

    Now start planning lots of other projects on that page, or go on to another sheet. If you have photos you have printed or cut out of magazines, glue them onto your sketch, cutting away the background on the pictures. Sketch those you need to, even adding labels for clarity. Throw in any ideas you even might use, but you are not sure. If you go on to other pages, you may move from sketches to lots of labels. Make changes if you wish by X-ing out things and adding others, but it’s better to leave and add to your ideas, just in case.

    At this point, you need colored markers or highlighters. Starting on your most complete sketch, begin color-coding the sketch with lines or circles, according to your own code. Mine is often like this:
    Green=Permanent features like trees or driveways.
    Red=Things already done that I want to stay.
    Blue=Projects I absolutely want to do next.
    Yellow=Ideas I think will do, but it depends on another project first.
    Purple=Projects that cost a little more, or it’s the wrong season, or I might change my mind.
    Orange=Crazy fun projects that are so cute, but I have to see if they really fit.
    Pink=Adorable or comforting things I really like.

    Etc. As you might have guessed, some projects may have more than one color. I try to take care of Red and Blue first, especially if plumbing, wiring, cement, or other $ decisions have to be made. Then I might skip around according to what has more underlining or circles. If it rains, I can work on some projects in the house or garage. Some projects can only be done in warm or cool weather. I may keep adding and deleting projects, too. It helps to have a certain place to keep the sketches at hand or tacked to a wall to see where I want to go next, and what progress I’ve made. One time I used red and gold stars on my sketch, Red for “working on” and Gold for “completed”.

    All the sketching, labeling, revising, rerevising, etc., is a labor of love. I’m also a list maker, but this is just another more artistic way of doing the same thing. Very best wishes, and remember, it’s your yard; do whatcha wanna do! ☺️