A gorgeous new landscape design is one of the best investments you can make, both in terms of resale value and quality of life. A beautifully landscaped property extends the living space of your property, helping you get more enjoyment from your home throughout the year. Once the time comes to sell, your landscaping will be the first thing homebuyers see and will act as a major influence on your asking price. If you’re planning a landscaping project this spring, make sure to read through this landscape planning checklist before you contact our team.




1. Know Your Aspect

Aspect refers to the directional orientation of your yard; in other words, whether your yard faces north, south, east, or west. This is very important for our designers to understand how light falls on your landscape throughout the day. If you’re a seasoned gardener, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with this concept. However, it’s very common (and understandable) for people not to notice until they start planning a new landscape! 

There are a few ways to figure out your yard’s aspect. If you’re good with maps, you can take a look at a map of your neighborhood to get yourself oriented. If you’re a little “directionally challenged”, just pay attention where the sun is at sunset tonight, or where it is when it rises in the morning. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so:

  • If your house faces the rising sun in the morning, your home faces east
  • If your house faces the setting sun in the evening, your home faces west
  • If the sun rises on the left side of your house and sets on the right side, your house faces south
  • If the sun rises on the right side of your house and sets on the left side, your house faces north




2. Measure the Square Footage

When you consult with our design team, we’ll ask you about the square footage of the area you’d like landscaped. This isn’t necessarily the same thing as the square footage of the yard! While some folks come to us looking for a total landscape overall over a single season, many families focus on smaller, high-priority projects over several years to achieve their “dream yard” over time. There are good reasons for both approaches, so choose the plan that feels right for you.




3. Determine Your Desired Views and Privacy

A key reason we spend time in our yards is to soak in the great outdoors and surround ourselves with nature. Often, we also want as much of the privacy we enjoy indoors as possible. Give some thought to which features in your landscape you want to emphasize, and what you want to hide—including what you want to hide from others. Perhaps you want to frame the view of a gorgeous pond or lake near your property but could stand to block out the view of your neighbor’s garage. Or, perhaps you’d like to create a private oasis where you and your guests can relax out of the view of your nosy neighbors.




4. What’s Your Aesthetic?

Your landscape aesthetic isn’t just about which images you tend to save on Pinterest or “like” on Instagram. The aesthetic of your yard should also flow well with the other properties in your neighborhood, while also creating an ideal setting for the activities you like to do outdoors. If you hope to set up a birdwatching space on a corner lot that faces a busy road, you might be disappointed by how infrequently you catch a glimpse of a winged visitor. Or, if you transform your front yard into a Disney-themed topiary garden, you might delight your preschooler—at the expense of your relationship with the neighbors.

Instead, take note of all the influences that should go into your landscape aesthetic: 

  • What is the overall feel on your block; is it a trendy urban area, or in the casual suburbs? 
  • What do you want to use the space for; are you growing veggies, playing with the family dog, entertaining, or something else? 
  • Are looking to add more green to the entryway, a stone walkway for better accessibility, or flowering shrubs for color? 

Once we’ve got a plan to address the mandatory stuff, we can start gushing over the photos you’ve saved for inspiration!




5. Define Your Budget

It can be uncomfortable to talk about money, but for most of us, it’s a factor. Knowing what you can afford to spend is crucial; without a number, it’s hard to put in perspective what can and cannot be accomplished within the season. 

Some of the more pricey aspects of your landscape project may not be what you expect. For instance, consider that larger plants and trees can drive up costs because you’ll be paying for the time they spent in the grower’s care. We suggest a mix of planting younger shrubs and perennials that grow faster while splurging on bigger slower growing trees for instant impact. We can also help you re-imagine your project to span a few more seasons in order to keep costs more manageable.


Landscaping is a significant investment, so this planning checklist is designed to help you get the most satisfaction from the final result. Our team is always happy to answer your questions and help you make confident decisions, so get in touch with our team of Chicagoland landscaping professionals today! You can also visit us in-store at one of our nursery locations in Bloomingdale or Carpentersville, IL.

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Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.