Before you even think about landscaping, you need to prepare your yard for the big makeover. You want to add functionality married to polished aesthetic appeal – and that’s not easy. In fact, the only way you’ll succeed is if you plan properly at the very beginning. Some of the preparations you should bear in mind are intuitive; others may come as a bit of a surprise.
To get started, make an inventory of your yard’s permanent (fixed) structures. Map their placement. By doing this, you can identify underground or hidden items – such as subterranean power lines – which you will have to work around when landscaping the yard. More than that, when you identify these aforementioned fixed structures, you have a much better idea of how your yard drains and which sections or segments are more conducive to accommodating plants.
The next step is to remove all of the inorganic or organic debris from the yard. Rocks, fallen leaves, vegetable and food waste, even woody material – they all need to go. If you have any hazardous waste, common-sense dictates that it needs to go. Plastic bags and wrappers and fragments from the interior of the house that have been dragged outside need to go. Remove weeds manually so that you avoid tearing up desirable plant life by the roots. And, when cleaning the yard for landscaping, use selective herbicides – such as Dicamba or MCPP – because they eradicate nettlesome weeds while protecting and sparing healthy plant life. When you have the refuse out of the way, the act of landscaping becomes far more expeditious and easy.
Even after you’ve done all of the above, there’s still more to be done. There may be plenty of plant life in your yard that you want to keep around, but you’ll still need to prune and prep it for the big moment. Bypass pruners, garden shears and lopping shears are great tools for getting rid of branches, limbs and leaves that have seen better days and are weak or diseased. Some people, ever mindful of getting more out of the constituent elements of their yard, will use pruned side shoots for the compost pile. At the very least, removing the diseased or dying parts of your yard will mitigate the risk of disease and infection spreading. When a plant is infected with a fungal disease, immediately remove the diseased portion and destroy it as quickly as possible. And consult with a professional for insight into identifying various types of plant disease. A well-prepared yard will always be free of disease and detritus.
Crazy as it may sound, the preparation doesn’t stop there. As you begin to get serious about your new landscaping adventure, draw up an inventory of the hardscape and softscape features that aren’t going to fit into your plans. The latter will be trees, plants, bushes and other sundry forms of vegetation that don’t have a place in your new-look yard. The hardscape stuff will be retaining walls, fountains and paving that you simply don’t
want to be a part of your new creation. Getting rid of the “soft” stuff isn’t so hard, but it is highly advisable to consult with a professional before you remove hardscape features – not least of all because they can cause considerable damage if removed improperly or hastily.
Last of all, you need to prepare your new yard for the new sod that is to come. Remove the old grass and roots with a sod cutter. As a general rule, till the yard to a depth of roughly 8 inches. Remove all of the rocks. Add in your soil amendments – most notably, your organic compost. And then, when you’ve done that, till again. When you’ve finished your tilling, smooth the hard using a yard roller. When you’ve smoothed out all the rough patches, you’re ready to lay your sod.
Hey, preparing your yard for that ambitious landscaping project you’ve had on the backburner for months – or even years – isn’t easy. But, if it’s done right, you’ll reap the happy rewards for a very long time to come.