1) The yard is empty.
Most new homes and a surprising number of existing homes have little or no landscaping. If this is your situation, start by outlining the areas you would like to fill with plants, where you would like a deck, walkways, etc. Don’t be in a rush!
2) Yard is planted, but looks boring. Yard is open and roomy with a few shrubs or trees, but too simple.
This is an excellent starting point! Create beds big enough to flatter and compliment those prize elements. Make sure your beds coordinate or compliment with existing plants.
There may be too much grass or not enough color. Expand planted areas (slowly) and replace some of the existing plants with others that bloom over a long period of time. Consider adding plants with different types of foliage (leaf size and leaf texture), to add contrast – such as slender grasses and perennials.
3) New plantings look disappointing.
If you are concerned because your plants look small, be patient; your plants will grow. Or if you sense the design isn’t quite right, i.e., the bed is too small or there are too many plants, change one thing at a time until you get the look you want.
4) Background is unattractive.
Sometimes you need to screen out unattractive elements. You may need to install a fence or hedge. If that is not possible, try to put in a focal point, plantings, statuary, a pond, etc. to lead your eye away from the problem area.
5) Yard doesn’t work in ways you want it to.
Remember – form should follow function! Any time is a good time to decide how you want your yard or areas in your yard to function and plan for those purposes.
6) There’s an empty spot where an established plant died, got eaten or damaged.
Clear away the remains of the plant. Replace the plant with another of its kind – or try something new that will be of equal size at maturity. You may want to plant annuals around the new plant until it is large enough to fill up the area. Opens the possibility of using a container or some other art piece in this spot.
7) Plants look mismatched.
This can be a common problem, especially with people who love plants. Deciding to pick one particular color scheme or similar textures or shape of plants are all good ways to determine which plants to keep and which to thin out..
8) Colors are overpowering.
Make sure it is the colors and not the particular plant (or its leaves) that are the problem. Slowly thin out the plants and add in new ones that are more subtle. Use the color wheel to assist in choosing a color scheme.
9) Yard looks too formal.
Are there too many shrubs that have been sheared? Plantings too symmetrical? Plants used too uniform in structure? If you want to transform this into a more casual atmosphere stop pruning and start letting the plants grow out naturally. Or you may want to remove some of the plants and replace them with shrubs that don’t require pruning or with native shrubs.
10) The yard looks messy or too informal.
Plantings too asymmetrical? Plants used too uniform in structure? This may mean that you have too many different kinds of plants or that the maintenance (staking, pruning, cleanup, etc.) has not been kept up with. Begin by taking out any dead or dying plants, trim shrubs and remove any trash (unneeded stakes, posts, etc). You may need to split overgrown perennials. Try to simplify the area by reducing the number of plants, textures or types of foliage. Or you may prefer a more traditional, formal design.