Like any art form, to become good at landscaping you first need to know what the rules are so that you can create something that looks good from the beginning.


It’s tempting, in a field as subjective as garden design, to feel that rules do not apply. However, after 28 years and hundreds of projects later, I’ve come to believe in certain rules and guidelines that are neither fussy nor constraining. All have proven invaluable to me over my years of garden-making. Applied by any gardener, amateur or professional, they will result in a more successful, satisfying design.

Let’s start with two rules that can kick-start the process of laying out a landscape, then move on to guidelines that help in scaling the proportions of a garden’s elements and, finally, to choosing and using the right plants.


Yes, this one’s a “law,” not just a rule! It addresses the root meaning of garden, which is “enclosure.” This, to me, is absolutely critical in creating a sense of refuge and of feeling oneself within nature’s embrace. The law of significant enclosure says that we feel enclosed when the vertical edge of a space is at least one-third the length of the horizontal space we’re inhabiting. Probably derived from behavioral psychology studies, this rule came to me from a professor in graduate school, and it was one of the best things I learned.

Backyard Patio Drawing
David Despau

On this project in Pacific Palisades, CA, an existing and overgrown row of ficus was reduced by half knowing it would still more than adequately enclose the patio. Illustration by David Despau.

Just yesterday, as I was starting the design of a patio that I wanted to separate from an adjacent play area, it gave me instant guidance for how tall a hedge I would need: the area was 17 feet wide, and so my hedge should be at least 6 feet. Sit near a tree in the park, or a wall, and gradually edge away, and you’ll see how it works. Of course, there are times when the point of a landscape design is a monumental sense of scale or view, but the best gardens, whatever their size, modulate a feeling of enclosure and openness, and this rule will help.


My formal architectural education also introduced me to the concept of the “regulating line.” The idea is that an element of architecture (for example, a doorway, or a building edge, even a window mullion) or a distinctive landscape feature (prominent tree, existing pool, property boundary) can “generate” an imaginary line that helps connect and organize the design. For example, in laying out one backyard, I projected the lines of its building addition into the garden …


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Guide to Picking Plants for the Landscape

When you want your yard to be landscaped, whether you are going to do the work yourself or have a professional landscaper do it, you need to choose the plants to have planted. How do you know the right plants to choose?


Could you use some help with your plant selections? The guide below provides information on perennials, annuals, ground covers, vines, shrubs and trees commonly used in designing a garden.

Plant selection should always be governed by research into the qualities of the specific specimens under consideration, and sometimes you will need to make a compromise. But never is such research more critical than when it comes to selecting trees for your landscape — so it is with trees that I will begin:

Heaven Scent magnolia trees are sometimes misspelled 'Heaven Sent' magnolia tree. - David Beaulieu
Heaven Scent magnolia tree picture. David Beaulieu

1.  Types of Trees

In other categories of plant selection, you have room for error. But if you situate a big tree in a spot where it doesn’t belong, it can cause grave headaches down the road. Many homeowners end up limbing a treethat overhangs a house dangerously.

There’s another reason to exercise wise plant selection when choosing a tree. Many trees are slow growers, meaning you’ll have to wait years to reap the benefits of planting them. When that waiting period is over, you don’t want to be saddled with features for which you didn’t bargain. Know what to expect before you install a tree!

Trees can be categorized in a number of ways; here are some examples:

  • Flowering Trees
  • Fall-Foliage Trees
  • Fast-Growing Shade Trees
  • Evergreen Trees
  • Dwarf Trees

Pet Safe Weed Killer | Effective Non-toxic Weed Killers

For anybody who has done any gardening they know the difficulty of keeping a good garden free of weeds is an ongoing task that seems to never end. It is like the legendary monster whose head gets cut of and as soon as that happens another one pops up.


Pet safe weed killer.

Weed killers are toxic. There’s no other way to put it. Not only do most weed killers kill weeds but they also can cause harm to pets and humans as well. Thankfully, there are pet safe weed killers on the market that actually work. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where toxic chemicals are acceptable while healthy and natural options are considered “alternative.”

Many homeowners are not aware of the risks associated with traditional weed killers — or perhaps they’re too lazy to go out of their way and find pet friendly weed killers. If you’re reading this then you’re clearly a caring and conscious pet owner who wants to keep your pets healthy. We hope you find this article helpful.

Weeds, Weeds, Everywhere!

Best weeed killer for lawns. Weed types.

Weeds have always been the biggest bane of any garden’s existence. In fact, if you tend to look after your own garden, you will shudder at the very thought of weeds appearing in it. The reason why is simple. Weeds are easy to identify but difficult to get rid of. The definition off a weed is all that you need to know when identifying a potential weed.

This is because it is said that a weed is for all purposes any wild plant which is growing in a place that you don’t want it to grow. So, this means that any plant that you have not planted and which crops up in your garden of its own accord is a weed.

The problem of having weeds in your garden has a compounded effect if you have pets that live in your house. This is because just like you, your pets will also have access to the perimeter …


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How to Choose a Professional Landscape Contractor

Landscaping your property is a huge investment and you can make use of the services of a company to make it look beautiful.  A good landscape can help increase the overall appeal and value of your property.

The following information is provided to assist property owners and homeowner’s in choosing a landscape contractor to design and build your landscape project. There may be other questions that would be more appropriate for your project but this should be a solid list for any project.

There are 3 areas that we strongly recommend that you consider as you do your evaluation of each landscape company:

1. Reputation, Longevity and Financial Stability
2. Experience and Installation Methodology
3. Service Before, During and After Your Project

For each area simply ask these types of basic questions and then ask the landscape contractor to provide the evidence to support their answers in writing.

Reputation, Longevity and Financial Stability

  • Do you maintain the State of Michigan mandated levels of liability, vehicle and worker’s compensation insurance?
  • Will you supply a copy of your current business insurance certificate?
  • Will you provide a copy of your business registration for your current company? (This will tell you how long they have been in business using this business name)
  • Can you provide me with a current customer reference list with at least 25 names and contact information?
  • Do you have references from your bank and key suppliers?

Experience and Installation Methodology

  • How many landscape projects have you designed in the last 10 years?
  • Will you provide a detailed breakdown of the service you are providing?
  • Do you have company policies in force that deal with smoking, drugs and alcohol by your crews?
  • Do you hold any landscape industry certifications?
  • Do you hold any college or advanced degrees related to landscaping?


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Really Inspiring Repurposing Ideas For Vintage Garden Decorations

Vintage garden decor can add a special focal point to your outdoor space in a way that no new piece can.  What’s more fascinating in this is that you don’t have to spend that much.


There is no reason why your outside living space can be comfortable and stylish as your home. The furniture that you use in your home, can in many ways, be used in your garden. This is a very interesting topic for those who are planning to buy new furniture. The old furniture that you no longer want to use in your home, can find a place of honor, in front of your door. Chairs and beds can be used for open-air dining room, and interesting sideboard can be turned into decor for the garden, space for storage of small things, such as garden tools. Instead of throwing the used furniture, we bring you a couple of suggestions how it can be recycled and reused with a new purpose. That way you will make fascinating vintage garden, which will be your favorite place to stay in the hot summer days!

Really Inspiring Repurposing Ideas For Vintage Garden Decorations

Really Inspiring Repurposing Ideas For Vintage Garden Decorations

Really Inspiring Repurposing Ideas For Vintage Garden Decorations



Landscape design is not something that anyone needs to be fearful of, if you have an idea for your landscape or garden space you will be able to make it reality with a little bit of research and desire to create something beautiful. Study the principles so that you’ll have your inputs.



Simplicity is the essence of design. This is an objective that I have always tried to achieve in all of my previous residential, commercial, institutional and recreational projects. How a designer creatively combines plant material and other design components into a simple, unified scheme is always an exciting challenge.

Simplicity is the essence of design.
Simplicity is the essence of design.

In the landscape palette, the designer is dealing with living plants that are subject to a myriad of weather conditions, different soil types, insect and disease problems, and a host of other environmental and physical circumstances. The landscape artist must deal with plants that celebrate the seasons with the unfurling of leaves in spring, the aroma and visual delight of ephemeral flowers, and the bareness of branches in winter. Change in the landscape is never constant as the seasons come and go. How the designer successfully combines plants and other material components in the Landscape Planting Plan involves paying careful attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of practical horticulture, and a good understanding of the basic principles and elements of design. The designer faces the challenge of creating a plan that is pleasing to the senses and that visually, functionally and aesthetically improves the appearance of the landscape at an affordable cost.

Chaenomeles Japonica (Japanese Flowering Quince).
Chaenomeles Japonica (Japanese Flowering Quince) Seasonal design considerations.
Viburnum opulus (European Highbush Cranberry).
Viburnum opulus (European Highbush Cranberry) Winter fruit is an important design consideration.


In curvilinear design, lines should be dramatic, done with a sense of flamboyancy and be very expressive in their shape. Curvilinear lines that have weak, scallopy edges will not be visually interesting or pleasing to the eye. Curvilinear, meandering lines suggest a naturalistic look that invites the user to casually stroll through and experience the landscape.

Effective use of curvilinear line form.... Vancouver Parks Board.
Effective use of curvilinear line form…. Vancouver Parks Board.

On the other hand, linear lines such as those found in a straight hedge or the edges of paving materials suggest quick, direct movement. Angled lines can create opportunities for …


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Creating a patio is a great way to add some much needed outdoor space to your family home. Properly installed pavers are a great way to create a low-maintenance space for you to enjoy.


Paver Pool Deck

Contemporary landscapes have become a showcase of manufactured paving stones valued for their low cost and long term durability. They originated in Europe after the war when an affordable unit paver was needed to rebuild streets that would hold up far longer than poured concrete or asphalt. While brick was well established, this clay based product was not as easy to manufacture and while it remains part of this materials group, the majority of these products are primarily concrete based.

The beauty of precast paving stones is that they can stand alone on a sand or gravel base without mortar. They are small enough to be moved and hand set without special equipment. Some designs are ideal for permeable paving that complies with the zero runoff building codes.

In the urban environment, precast paving stones can be taken up to make subgrade repairs of streets and sidewalks, then replaced without the added cost of new paving materials. Solid paving as every American knows, becomes a nightmare when repairs are required due to extensive demolition required to remove original street surface. This combined with the machinery and forming necessary before new concrete or asphalt can be laid makes pavers a much more affordable and sustainable choice for both urban streets and residential yards

Precast paving stones caught on in landscapes early on due to affordability and versatility. The majority of these fall into one or more categories:

Interlocking pavers: These manufactured paving stones can be obtained in a wide range of shapes and colors coordinated to produce a paving pattern once installed. Such patterns are …



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10 Kid-Friendly Ideas for Backyard Fun

“The backyard is your kiddo’s safe haven. When the warm weather finally turns up, it’s a sure bet she’ll spend hours pouring tea for friends—imaginary and real—while dreaming up castles, jungles and other wild adventures only little ones can create. Add to the excitement with easy projects perfect for a warm afternoon. From music walls to wind spinners and painted garden sticks, scroll down for ideas promising to add a touch of flair to her little patch of sunshine.”

My parents always shooed us outside in the summertime. We’d come in for lunch and the occasional popsicle, but we otherwise lived outside. If you’re planning the same for your kids, here are ten ideas for making your outside space more appealing, more fun and more memorable.

Sandbox: Even if you can’t get to the beach this summer, you can still have the sun and the sand. Buy one or build one to your specifications. Show here is a terrific shaded sandbox. Angela calls this her son’s backyard beach. See how she made it at Better Together.

Swing: If a big playset isn’t realistic for your yard, how about just a swing? It’s always been my favorite part anyway. There are dozens of ways to diy a swing including this version made from an old skateboard. Get the tutorial at Little Bit Funky.

Play Kitchen: If you have a roofed outdoor area like a large porch, consider moving your play kitchen outside for the summer. Or, create a simple outdoor kitchen that they can get really messy in. There’s no need for play food as nature is their kitchen. Shown above is one by Garden Mama. We also rounded up 10 more here.

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Growing Bermuda Grass: Learn About The Care Of Bermuda Grass

“Bermuda grass needs simple methods for care, maintenance and mowing. The color of this grass is usually dark green and spreads by rhizomes and stolons. This grass has the ability to grow in extreme climate conditions because of its extensive root system.  Due to its long root system, it’s quite difficult to destroy or kill Bermuda grass. Some times its presence affects the growth of strawberries, squash and other low growing fruits and vegetables. Some of the aggressive type of Bermuda grass can also affect the flower beds. So to get rid of such situations, repeated applications of herbicide is necessary for killing Bermuda grass.”


The Spanish brought Bermuda grass to America in the 1500’s from Africa. This attractive, dense grass, also known as “South Grass,” is an adaptable warm-season turf that many people use for their lawns. It is also found in pastures, on athletic fields, golf courses, parks and more. Let’s learn more about how and when to plant Bermuda grass.

Information on Growing Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is a cold tolerant, warm-season grass that will grow as far north as Virginia. In warmer tropical areas, Bermuda grass will remain green all year long. In other areas that drop below 60 degrees F., it will go dormant.

Ideal growing regions for Bermuda grass include the United States Department of Agriculture Zones 7 through 10. Growing Bermuda grass is easy as long as you have the right conditions.

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Tips For Lawn Spring Maintenance

Spring is a time for you to take a look at your lawn and take required steps to promote its growth and health. The inclement climate conditions of winter makes a lawn weary. Following a few simple steps will help the lawn recover its lush green coloration and flourish. Raking, repairing damaged areas, renovating the lawn’s appearance and correct fertilizer applications restore a lawn to its pre-winter glory. To ready the lawn and gardens for healthy growth and new plants this spring, follow these easy steps.”

Photo by

If this is your first time having a lawn of your own, you simply must know tips on spring lawn care. Spring is the time when the weather warms up and your plants must be taken care of so they do not die. Once you do it right, it is possible to have a beautiful lawn throughout the year.

Preventative Weed Control

A well kept and healthy lawn must have little issue with weeds because the dense turf and frequent mowing should keep out any weeds. Nevertheless, as this is reality we’re all occasionally plagued with weeds, crabgrass as well as other noxious plants. A pre-emergent is probably the solution, applied in the spring this will assist keep the weeds down and enable the lawn to develop a dense turf to further control weeds.

Mow the Old Material

Trim and mow your lawn. Do this if your lawn is over grown, or you are doing your spring clean up late in the season. Your lawn mower will grab the debris from the previous step.

Add Mulch or Pine Straw

During this spring lawn care, it’s about time you put down mulch or pine straw. You should refresh your grass beds so that they can put color in your lawn. Weeds ought to be stopped from growing since it may block out the sunlight from your lawn.


Most plants reap the benefits of a fantastic fertilizer and, in preparation for new plantings, fertilizing the soil in advance can be the ace up your sleeve. Always fertilize in accordance with whatever you plan to plant, and for anyone who is making use of manure, make confident that it’s been aged so it will not burn or kill your plants. Most importantly, ensure not to over fertilize since this can in fact hinder new growth.

Get Good Drainage

Check the drainage of the lawns and gardens to make sure they do not draw water to one main area of the garden. Pooling and poor drainage may drown or damage plants and leave your lawn soggy. In case you are unsure, hire someone to evaluate it and help you arrange your yard in order that moisture is more distributed in your lawn.

The effort you put into your lawn in the Spring will pay benefits during the rest of the growing season. You have to be able to complete these procedures in one day on a weekend, planning ahead will help. Getting the necessary supplies ahead of time will also be a great time saver.