Laying Out Your Landscape Part Two

Part Two in a Series

Once you have your landscape design on paper, now it's time to transfer it to the actual location where you will be planting your plants. You will need a couple of tools in order to accomplish this. First it's handy to have a long tape measure. For example a 50 foot or 100 foot tape measure is a lot easier to use an 8 foot or 16 foot one. You will be able to easier layout your landscape with a longer tape measure. You might also need some wooden stakes, some string, an old garden hose, and some marker paint.

If your landscape design calls for a regularly repeating pattern, or a very rigid formal grid structure, you'll want to use stakes and string. Start by finding a fixed point on your design and take all your measurements from that one point. Check your measurements frequently as you start laying out your stakes in your yard. Run string or twine from one stake to another to help lay out your design.

If your landscape design is more free-form, with curves and random areas, you'll use an old garden hose. Again, you want to find a fixed reference point from which to start your plan. Using the garden hose, layout your shape. The garden hose will allow for very smooth and gentle arts and arches and curves as you lay out your design.

In both cases, once you have your design transferred to the ground using either stakes and string or garden hose, you'll want to make it permanent by using marker paint. Marker paint is simply spray paint where the nozzle is upside down from a normal can of spray paint. You hold it upside down and spray on the ground. Use the paint to trace over your string lines, or the garden hose.

Now that you have your entire design layed out and painted on the ground it's time to start adding some plants. Remember, a good design uses a layered effect. You will want to place taller plants in the back, and smaller, shorter plants in the front. This gives depth and interest to your landscape design. Take your plant material, in their nursery containers, and begin laying them out in your design. Once you have most of your material in place, take a step back and look at your handiwork. Now walk through your yard, and take a look at how things appear. Now is the time to change things. Once things are planted, it is very difficult to make changes. But now, your plants are still in the containers, you can very easily move things around and change your visual effect.

Preferably, if you have time, leave your temporary landscape in place for a day or two and take a look at it throughout the day. Your design will look different at different times during the day. For example, in the morning, the light is coming from a different angle, than in the evening. So you want to be sure that your landscape design looks good at all times during the day.

In our next article, we'll take a look, and the actual planting process, how to prepare the soil, and how to make sure your pants have a good start at a long healthy life.

Dean Novosat is an avid gardener and landscaper. He has transformed many boring yards into beautiful landscapes. He has several websites including and

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