Proceed in an orderly fashion.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Revamping your landscape can be a daunting proposition, especially when you want to go about it in DIY fashion. There’s one helpful thing to know before you begin, though, and it will make every piece of landscaping work that follows so much easier. The one thing that everyone wishes they knew before tackling a DIY landscape design project is also the one thing you need to remember: Planning makes perfect.

From the first ideas to the final plantings, planning is key. That's why you must break out the gridded graph paper and sketch a detailed plan for how you want your landscape to look. Having a map of your intended designs notated with plantings and plots will help you first imagine what should go where and then bring your vision to fruition. (It’s also a handy guide to keep nearby when you’re elbow deep in hostas and can’t remember how many rows you meant to plant.)

You don’t need to be an artist to create a useful rendering. As you’re sketching your landscape designs—no matter how rudimentary the map may be—there are a few things you should be sure to include.

Defined Areas

Segmenting the landscape into manageable portions—the yard, the flowerbeds, the garden—helps not only to create visual interest and a sense of order, but also to make the DIY landscaping process easier to manage. Tending defined areas allows you to maintain control of the space and cultivate it according to each area’s needs.

Distinct Borders

When creating areas of defined space in your landscape, it’s important to establish and maintain borders. This is key because edging can draw the eye to different areas, keep things looking tidy and organized, and allow you to add some style with your materials of choice. Be sure to check out the Southern Living Plant Collection for border planting ideas.

Precise Plantings

Choosing and placing plants is half the fun, though during this process, it's easy to become overwhelmed with choice. This step is guaranteed to be so much smoother if you do the research and planning in advance as you sketch your landscape map. (Bonus points for organizing your planting plan with a color-coded key!) If you're not sure where to begin, read through our picks for the 8 Best Plants to Grow and 10 Best Landscaping Ideas.

Potential Pathways

It’s not all about flowers, though. Incorporating architectural elements and pathways into a landscape design is a good way—one that’s often overlooked but always welcome—to add big impact in a yard or garden. Paths and walkways can direct visitors through the space and can also allow you to more easily enjoy the fruits of your DIY landscaping efforts.

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Are you considering a DIY landscaping project in your yard this year? Let us know if you implement a plan and what tips for DIY landscaping you learn in the process.