Where to Start When Planning a Landscape Renovation

Where to start when planning a landscape renovation

State a goal

Starting a landscape renovation can be overwhelming. There is so much to consider: plant choices, color schemes, paving materials, budget, phasing of a project, village ordinances, whew! Ok, take a step back and a few deep breaths. Before picking out plants or selecting all the materials, ask yourself a simple question. “What is my goal for this project?” If you have a clear goal in mind it’s much easier to plan around it. Maybe your goal is to update the back yard so you can entertain your friends and dazzle them with your barbeque skills. Maybe the kids need more space to play and the existing lawn is in awful shape or undersized. Maybe you want to create a spectacular cutting garden so you can have fresh flowers indoor and out. Or, maybe you are hoping to sell your home in the next year and need to freshen up a few areas of the landscape to attract a new buyer. If you know what you want from your new landscape, its much easier to know what to put into it in the first place.

Get emotional

A beautiful landscape evokes emotion. Standing at the base of mountain evokes a sense of awe and humbleness. Some of the best designed landscapes I’ve encountered made me emotional. Each time I visit Evening Island at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I’m immediately put at ease and in awe. My pace slows down and I get quiet, looking intently at the beautiful combinations of plants. The Lurie Garden in Millennium Park makes me forget that I’m in a city of millions of people. A one-acre garden makes me feel like I’m in the country side enjoying an afternoon stroll. When planning your garden, think about how you want to feel when you are in it and how you will experience it. Large trees and hedges create a sense of enclosure and will direct your eye to specific views. Walking paths will allow you to move through the garden and have different views and experiences at each point along the way.

Make it personal

A landscape should reflect not only the personality of the house, but you as well! If you are a free spirit reflect your personality with bold flower colors and an informal planting scheme. A more conservative personality may lean toward organized hedges and straight bed lines. You will be the one enjoying your garden on a daily basis, so be sure it appeals to you and makes you smile. Another great way to inject personality into a landscape is placing garden décor, such as sculpture, pottery, or furniture in the garden. These elements add interest and detail within the landscape and also help tell your story.


Nate Robinson

Nathan Robinson’s background in landscape design and project management allows him to see opportunity in any project. He partners with his clients to create spaces that fit the needs of their families, while also creating stunning visual impact. Nate is an Illinois native and proud graduate of the University of Illinois’ Landscape Architecture program. In his time away from the office, he enjoys hiking, landscape photography and spending time along the lakefront with his two Australian Shepherds.