By the time we need a landscape makeover, the scale of the task at hand can seem overwhelming. It’s no secret that a brand new landscape plan is a major investment, and while the returns are huge both for your home’s value and your quality of life, it’s not a decision the average homeowner makes overnight. But did you know that you can stage your landscape renovation over multiple years? A multi-year plan lets you take care of the right things first, extend your budgeting time, and allows you to make long-lasting, informed decisions. Let’s explore an example of how a three-year plan can turn a major landscape overhaul into an exciting but manageable long-term project.
First Year: Out with the Old, In with the New
In the first year of your landscape renovation plan, the most important thing is to get things out of the way that will be difficult (if not impossible) in the years to come. Here are a few examples of upgrades that should be done in the first year:
- Major Changes to the Backyard: All structural changes to the backyard, including hardscapes like decks, pathways, and patios, should be your first priority for multiple reasons. First, fitting large machinery into the backyard can require moving or temporarily removing sections of your fencing and can cause damage to the front yard landscape (if entering through the front). Get this out of the way first, and avoid messing up a new, pristine front yard!
- Removing Unwanted Landscape Plants: If there are trees, shrubs, or perennials on the property that you no longer want, scrap them early on. This will change the footprint of your yard, giving your landscape designer more freedom to help you create a more functional space. Plus, it makes room for better plants!
- Other Major Hardscapes: The next priority should be any remaining hardscapes, such as a new front yard sidewalk or re-done driveway. These changes make massive improvements to your home’s curb appeal, and you can save on materials and installation costs by knocking them out right after your backyard upgrades.
- New Trees and Shrubs: If you plan to install some new foundation plantings, privacy hedging, or shade trees, make this your final project for the first year. The soil will already have been disturbed from the removal of your unwanted plants, and a lot of the soil will be exposed from your hardscape installations; use that opportunity to fill it in with gorgeous new plants!
Second Year: Build It Up
The first year is all about establishing the most critical elements of your new landscape plan, so the second year is about building on that foundation. Consider improvements like:
- Designing Your Dream Garden: Always longed for large, tiered garden beds, a towering vine-covered trellis, or a romantic row of rose bushes? Now is the time to bulk up your garden areas with the plants that bring you the most joy and complement the style and colors of your home.
A three-year plan can turn a major landscape overhaul into an exciting but manageable long-term project.
- Lay New Sod: If your lawn is looking a little worse for wear (particularly after the major changes from the year prior), consider installing the new sod along with your upgraded garden beds. This way, you’re only purchasing as much sod as you need after your lawn space has been redefined.
- Adding Shade, Fire, and/or Water Features: Each of these projects has the potential to be as simple or as complex as you like. Shade structures, like pergolas or gazebos, can significantly enhance the atmosphere of your outdoor gathering areas, and a beautiful fire pit or water feature can add a phenomenal focal point to the space.
- Upgrading Patio and Garden Furniture: When it comes to outdoor furniture, you get what you pay for. Rather than invest in a brand new set during the first year, give yourself until at least the second year to settle on your final vision for your landscape and get the best set for you.
Third Year: Final Flourishes
The second year should take your landscape from good to great, but if you’re really ambitious, your third year can level up your outdoor space into ‘destination’ territory. Now that the must-haves of your landscape plan are taken care of, the third year is a great time to evaluate what is and isn’t working for you that could be tweaked. It’s also a perfect time to go wild with features that will ‘wow’ your guests!
- Make Modifications: Perhaps you’ve realized you underestimated how big you want your patio to be, or you’ve discovered that you’re actually allergic to the perennial lilies you planted in your backyard beds. You may want to pre-emptively budget for third-year changes as part of your plan; best-case scenario, you can use it on luxury additions instead!
- Add Something Indulgent: Most of us have that one landscape feature we’ve always admired in magazines, like a gourmet outdoor kitchen, an eight-person hot tub, or a Finnish-inspired sauna. You only have one life. Why not make it happen?
We recognize that this multi-year plan is still very ambitious—don’t worry, every yard and every homeowner is unique! Our skilled landscape team will work with you to learn your goals and help you create a plan that works for your lifestyle, budget, and timeline. Get in touch today to schedule a consultation with one of our talented landscape designers.
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.