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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
Civil Engineer & CAD Specialist
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5 Steps to Successful Landscapes

1) Build healthy soil Preserve existing soil and vegetation (especially trees) where possible. Amenddisturbed soils with compost. Mulch existing landscapesregularly with wood chip, coarse bark, leaves or compost.

2) Plant right for your site Fit landscape uses to yoursite’s conditions, and choose plants that need less water, have few pests, and thrive in the Northwest climate.

3) Water smart After building healthy soil and selecting low-water use plants, group plants by water need, use more efficient irrigation methods like drip and soakers under mulch, and design and maintain irrigation systems to reduce waste.

4) Think twice before using pesticides Proper plant selection, plant care, and integrated pest management techniques can practically eliminate the need for weed and bug killers, reducing health risks.

5) Practice natural lawn care Start with less lawn – put turf only where needed. “Grasscycling” (mulchmowing), and proper mowing height, watering and fertilization techniques can save time and money.

Fit the design to the site

• Assess site soils, sun exposure, drainage, water table, grading and slope stability issues.
• Consider adjacent uses, nearby sensitive areas m(wetlands and waterways, slopes, wildlife uses).
• Identify existing vegetation, and preserve (especially tree root areas) wherever possible.
• Involve owners and end-users in fitting the intended uses into the site’s conditions.
• Involve landscape maintenance staff (or a maintenance expert) early in the design process

Start with the soil
• Plan to protect soil around trees and preserved vegetation from compaction.
• Plan to stockpile and reuse site topsoil, if practical.
• Plan to amend disturbed soils with compost, prevent recompaction, and mulch beds after planting (see Building phase).
• Consider getting a site soil sample, and any imported top soils, tested at a soil lab. Follow the lab’s
recommendations, and verify proper installation.
• Design landscape for recycling fall leaves and chipped prunings as mulch, and mulch-mowing (“grasscycling”) lawns, to help maintain long-term soil and plant health. Plan a composting or leaf/chip storage area on site.

Choose the right plant for the right place

• Select plant varieties that will thrive in your site’s conditions (sun, soil, water), the local climate, and that grow well together.
• Select for low maintenance needs: low water and fertilizer needs after establishment, high resistance to
pests to eliminate chemical use, and minimal mowing or pruning needs.
• Select based on mature size, to minimize pruning.

Plan vertically in layers, like the forest: ground cover, understory shrubs, and trees. (Select low shrubs and limb-able trees where sightlines are important)
• Use native plant communities where they fit the site conditions and design – they often thrive with less
maintenance and provide wildlife habitat.
• Plan native and natural “buffer” areas near waterways, slopes, and other sensitive areas.
• Use trees. Generally, plant conifers on north side to block winter winds, and deciduous trees to south for
summer shading and winter light. (Consider mature tree size – see “tree selection” in Resources.)
• Select plants with multiple benefits, such as food (“edible landscaping”), habitat, shade, etc.
• Maximize green in dense urban areas – in public spaces, on building walls and roofs, in street tree placement – see Seattle Green Factor urban design guidelines in
Resources section.
• Put lawn where it belongs: on sunny (or light shade to reduce water needs), well-drained, moderately sloped areas where needed for play or walking uses. Turf often requires a lot of maintenance and water, so choose other plant groups where turf is not necessary or won’t grow well (heavily shaded, sloped, or poorly drained sites).
• Avoid invasive species – see

for more information check the landscaping guide

( Courtesy: )

Landscaping costs can be daunting when you’re trying to improve the curb appeal of your home.  You don’t need to hire a professional to redo your front and back yard when you decide to improve your landscaping.  This can be a fun DIY project for spring weekends, and you can do it for much less than you think.

Check out the following tips for landscaping on a budget – you don’t have to try them all, but trying one or two will be sure to save you some time and money:

  • Take note of the landscaping and gardens of neighbors, friends and family. This will give you some good ideas of things that can be used in your own yard. While they are showing you their yards and gardens, ask them if you could have some cuttings from their plants – most are quite willing to do this for you.
  • Learn to propagate – sorry, it’s not as exciting as it sounds.  Instead of spending $3 - $8 EACH for your plants at the local big box store or nursery, learn to grow your own.  It will literally save you hundreds of dollars when you’re planning a budget landscaping project.  There are three main ways to propagate plants:

Seed Propagation
Propagation by seed is the most popular method of producing new plants. Common annual flowers are grown easily from seed and flower within the first year.  Perennials grown from seed may take more than one season to flower.

Cutting is the process of removing a small portion of a growing plant and treating it so roots are developed. The cutting is transplanted and will eventually produce its own blooms. Cuttings are usually made from part of the stem, leaves, or roots.

Dividing clumps is one of the simplest methods of propagation, and its beneficial for the divided plants. Many perennials deteriorate if left in clumps for too long. Dividing them ensures continuous health and growth. The plants are carefully removed from the soil in clumps, and divided simply by cutting them or pulling them apart and planting them separately.

  • Buy your gravel or landscaping stones from a local supplier – often they have leftovers from jobs that they are happy to get rid of – let them know what you are looking for and ask them to call you if they come up with any extra in your style.
  • Check with your local landfill or lcoal government to see if they have a free mulch or compost site. Many towns have these  - that’s what they do with the tree limbs and yard waste that they pick up - and they are glad to get rid of it.
  • Instead of buying weed killer and weed block tarps, lay old newspapers on the ground, several layers thick. Make sure that you cover the newspapers right away with mulch or landscaping rock, so they don't blow away.
  • Check out garage sales for gardening tools, landscaping edging, plants, etc.

Landscaping Design Resources

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