Redoing a Landscape

May 14, 2023

Redoing a Landscape

May 14, 2023

by Melody Kendall

The thought of redoing an existing landscape and/or designing an area in your landscape that is currently a blank slate can seem like an overwhelming task. It's all about planning and research coupled with breaking down the project into manageable steps.  The small step concept will also help to make the garden design/redo experience a fun process with pleasant anticipation instead of sweaty palms and sleepless nights. 

Creating the initial plan or design concept ‘wish list' can be a very enjoyable experience.  The process is only limited by your imagination. Peruse the internet, go to the library and check out landscape design books, tour local public gardens, talk to fellow gardeners, and walk the neighborhood. These are  all are ways to find inspiration and ideas.  Once you have a basic list of what would be your ‘wish list' dream for your landscape design you can start the actual installation plan. 

Here are some considerations when creating that final garden design template:

-Your gardening experience

-Purpose of the garden & type of garden desired

-Scope of project (wish list)

-Who will be doing the work     

-When desired start/completion time of the project

-Cost & other considerations

-Draw out existing landscape

-Add important notations

-Additional Considerations

-Locate research based gardening info to facilitate the proposed project

Your garden experience: This is YOUR garden. There is no finger pointing or judgment here. If you truly love getting out in the soil and puttering on a regular basis, plan your design accordingly. If your idea of gardening is to just experience the view while sitting in a chair with a cool drink in hand, then create your garden oasis with that in mind. Do you live in a fire area where you must consider firewise landscaping?  Are there physical considerations that you or your family have that need to be planned for? All of these and more must be pondered when making any landscape design plan.

Purpose of the garden & type of garden desired: You have decided how your garden will fit into your lifestyle so you can start narrowing down the plans, plants, and hardscape options.  Gather ideas and do research on the upkeep requirements of the plant and hardscape options that fit into your ‘lifestyle' criteria.  Pull out the notes and ideas that you have gathered and create a final list that includes all the items that fit into your gardening lifestyle and discard those that don't.  This will narrow down your choices and make the process more manageable.

Scope of project: Create a dream book or scrapbook to be followed in the creation of your new landscape space. Include pictures and notes for each concept.  These will help as each step moves forward. 

Who will be doing the work? Will you be doing all the landscape remodel work, hire a professional or divide different segments between you and a professional?  For example, a professional could be hired to remove the existing landscape and you could take it from there. Doing the work yourself will require fitting each step into your future schedules. Choosing a landscape design professional requires some research, asking around for recommendations and checking on the internet. Interview professionals to make a final selection.

When is the desired start/completion time of the project? If you want to do the landscape transformation in stages, all at once or somewhere in between is up to you. Plan accordingly to the best of your ability to make the project timeline. Also, if you use a landscape professional, you might have to conform to their schedule. This information should give you a start. Begin gathering information to create your wish list and dream book of pictures and notations. Rough out a timeline and project template and, if you intend to use a landscape professional, start looking at options available. 

Next week this blog will present information on the remaining items on the list of implementing a new landscape design: Cost & other considerations, drawing out existing landscape, adding important notations, additional considerations, and locating research based gardening information to facilitate the project.

Napa Master Gardeners are available to answer garden questions by email: or phone at 707-253-4143.  Volunteers will get back to you after they research answers to your questions.

Visit our website: to find answers to all of your horticultural questions.

Photo credits: Mel Kendall

Information links:

UC Master Gardeners of Napa County-Step-by-step Garden Design