When designing your home’s landscaping, be sure to keep your practical needs in mind. If you want a garden that is easy to maintain, keep it simple, using ground covers, mulch, or features such as pathways as main elements in your design. If you’re looking for improvements that could make your house easier to sell, pick a conservative lawn and border plants over wilder and more individualistic choices.container-gardening-dreamstime

Do you need extra privacy? Consider using trees and shrubs to demarcate your property and provide a sense of enclosure while avoiding a fortress look. Growing (softscape) elements can actually offer more privacy than hardscape features such as fences and walls because local building codes do not limit plant heights. And as an added bonus, a boundary made up of plants will usually cost much less than a fence or wall.

The U.S. Department of Energy states that even one strategically placed tree can save a household up to 25 percent on energy. If you wish to protect your house and yard from the searing sun, position trees and shrubs to create shade and absorb sunlight. If you live in a cold winter climate, you might consider deciduous varieties, which, fully foliaged, will obstruct summer sun and then let filtered light pass into your home once leaves drop in the fall.

You can also use landscaping to mask unattractive areas or attributes of your house or yard. For instance, you can plant shrubs to obscure garbage cans or the gas meter or thread evergreen vines through an ugly chain-link fence. A flowering border can soften a harsh gray concrete or gravel driveway.

For a small yard, use trees or other tall landscape elements to direct the eye upward, or place bright colors in the foreground of your design and pastels farther back to create a sense of distance. You can divide a long, skinny yard into smaller areas by positioning plantings to break up the line of sight.

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About Don Vandervort
An avid builder and remodeler, Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort