Planning your dream yard

There are few things more daunting than starting a garden from scratch. Whether you’ve just moved into a newly constructed home with a few basic plantings, or you want to refresh your garden by starting over, or you’ve inherited an older house with a lawn but no landscaping, these four basic steps will help you through the process:

1. Define the purpose. What is it that you want to use your yard for? Is it strictly to be a thing of beauty, a play area for kids, an entertainers dream, Is it important to you to have a quiet sanctuary somewhere in the garden where you can relax and read or just something that requires as little maintenence as possible.


2. When starting a new garden, one of the best ways investments of your time and money is soil preparation. This is particularly important if you live in a newly constructed home surrounded by soil that’s been disturbed and compacted by construction equipment. Plants can survive in bad soil, but they won’t flourish. Before planting anything, buy good topsoil and compost and work it into garden beds . Manuer and peet moss are great things to add to a garden as well as a good topsoil mixed in.

 3. Create a plan. Some people find it helpful to photocopy their plot plan and sketch in plants, art, paths, and other garden elements directly on the plan. Others prefer to mark areas in the yard using surveyor flags (found in home and garden centers) or with sections of garden hose, or my personal favorite, use spray paint to paint out garden areas. Be sure to give yourself enough room for the activity you plan. For instance, if you’re creating a dining area, set up a table and chairs in the setting to see whether they fit. If you’re planning to add a children’s sandbox and play area, measure equipment ahead of time to make sure it fits in the space with some room around the edges.  To define the boundaries of the area, plan some pretty plant borders. As you plan the outline your plant borders, create shapes that you can easily mow around to avoid extra trimming.

To decide whether your garden should have a formal or informal design, take a look at your home’s architecture. If your home’s windows are equally spaced on either side of a centered front door, your house has a symmetric or formal design.  A garden that uses geometric shapes and bold symmetrical plantings looks best with that style. If you have a bungalow or ranch house with off-center doors, windows, chimneys or porches, an informal garden with sinuous curves and relaxed, loose plantings would look right at home.

4. Finish one area at a time. Budget and time may not allow you to install all the plantings and hardscaping at once. Instead of trying to plant your entire yard and becoming overwhelmed, finish one garden area at a time and feel good about your accomplishment. Tackle another one next month or next season.

Start defining the framework with a fence, hedge, flower border, or screening plantings, as well as paths and hardscaping. Trees and shrubs take the most time to mature, so plant those first. I like to create borders that combine trees, shrubs, and long-lasting perennials so you don’t need to replant each year. To fill in the gaps as these plants develop, use colorful annuals, large containers, and vertical structures such as obelisks. Choose styles and colors that match your home’s décor to unify the design.
Perennials are plants that return every year.  Check what garden
zone you livein to determine what plants are perennials.
Fill in the Gap
While you’re waiting for your trees, shrubs and perennials to grow in, your beds may look a bit sparse. Try some annuals to help plump up your garden with color. 

Annuals are plants that die off in the frost
and need to be replaced year after year.
 If you have questions you need answered in regards to working with your yard, Mudworks Landscape can help.  We have a unique way of taking photographs of your home and planting it so as if you were looking at a snapshot of your finished home.  We can also draw a detailed plan so you know what to plant and where.  Even if you live out of the State of Utah, you can email us a few key measurements and photos of your home and we can get those sketches done for you at an affordable cost.  Just email us at or check us out at

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