Create a Plan to Successfully Renovate Your Landscape

Spring is here, and it is calling homeowners to work in their gardens and landscapes. It is too early for some yardwork tasks like planting warm season crops. But for other outdoor chores, such as the renovation of an existing outdoor space, now is the perfect time to take action.

This is because successful landscape renovations begin with a carefully crafted plan, and there is time enough to plan landscape renovations before our unpredictable northern Nevada weather settles down enough to let us undertake them.

In creating a renovation plan, first think about your existing space. Is it too hot, high maintenance or water hungry? When storms hit, does water runoff destroy areas or pool in all of the wrong places?

With the landscape’s areas for improvement in mind, explore landscape design principles such as simplicity, balance, focal points, lines and proportions.

Simplicity is the landscape design principle which reduces distractions. It sheds excessive variation and hinges on repetition of color, species, shape or other elements across different parts of the landscape.

Balance provides visual order. Focal points, like specimen plants, fountains or arbors, create interest and accent.

The line of a space refers to how an eye is directed through it. Eyes follow lines created by repeating elements, hedgerows or planting beds. Lines link spaces and let them flow. Size is the scale or proportion of the space and its elements.

In this landscape, trees provide shade while wood decking helps with drainage. Photo by Ashley Andrews.

Nevada’s challenging climate features not only droughts but also floods, so it is important to bring our creative sides down to earth. While designing, also think about how to make the landscape more resilient to weather extremes with plant selection and drainage management.

One way to beat the heat in the high desert is with landscape trees. For example, trees added to the south and west side of the home can reduce air conditioning needs by up to 30 percent.

Selecting drought-tolerant landscape plants reduces maintenance chores and water use. Select plants strategically to provide drought-tolerant defensible space as well as beauty, produce and habitat. This strategy will create attractive, useful spaces even in dry times.

In all weather, proper irrigation is needed for optimal plant health and water use. Drip irrigation systems best meet both of those goals.

Finally, to defend the home and landscape against damage caused by stormwater runoff, help soils on your property absorb the moisture. One way to do this is to reduce landscape surfaces water cannot pass through, like cement. Use wood decking, bricks or stones instead. If cement is unavoidable in the landscape, grade its slope so that water is redirected to vegetated areas which can absorb it. Add compost to those areas, because compost helps soil hold water.

To learn more about landscape design and drainage management, attend a forum featuring speakers on these topics at 6 p.m., May 3 at 1325 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville. The forum is offered by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and GreenACTnv. For information, contact Extension Educator Steve Lewis at lewiss@unce.unr.edu or 775 782-9960.

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