Important things we learnt about designing a good home landscape


A study commissioned by the National Association of Landscape Professionals states it in financial terms: Homes that have been professionally landscaped bring 15-20 percent more upon resale than those with no home landscape design. Landscaping is a very rewarding job that is often overlooked by many people. In saying that, many people want to learn home landscape design to fulfill their wish to be able to create beautiful yards. Now, you don’t need to go to University to learn how to design a good landscape. Some people are fortunate in that they have a instinctive eye for great design ideas in spite not having taken any home landscape design courses.

When we started building our first home we didn’t know much about how to design a good landscape, in fact, we knew almost nothing. Over the years though we have picked up quick a few tips which we would like to share with you now.

Before starting, ensure you do proper planning

This phase is where you get to dream. While you dream, you want to factor in how you and your family live in the space that will be designed. Will your landscape design fit your needs, whether that means a pool for the kids, a herb garden or seating space for lots of guests? Would you like an outdoor kitchen for entertaining or the visual and auditory pleasures of an outdoor water fountain? What qualities do you want to bring to your landscape–do you prefer lots of color, variations on one color theme or the more subtle effect of different textures of green? Perhaps you own an outdoor sculpture that you want to spotlight or have a garden type in mind, such as a Mediterranean landscape design or an English garden design. After a recent trip to Australia we liked the work we saw from a group of Sydney landscapers working across the road from our hotel (thanks for the chat too Luke, as promised we’ve mentioned you here 🙂 and we’ve already used your tip for ensuring pavers are lined up!). The sky is the limit, just make sure you do you research so you can plan accordingly. Professionals, such as landscape designers and landscape architects, can help you make the best decisions.

Here is a great video showcasing beautiful English Garden Design that may give you some ideas:

Know your budget before you dream too big

During this phase, the scope of the work is defined, including phasing in the different landscape elements. Cost factors include the hardscapes items like patios or decks; surfaces (cement, stone, brick) and walkways; fences, gates and arbors; outdoor kitchens; luxury swimming pools and other water features. Also, landscape lighting; irrigation systems and landscape drainage systems; and types of grass, shrubs, trees, perennials and seasonal color. This article from Better Home and Gardens provides some advice for landscaping on a budget.

Ask the landscaper for details around their proposed installation

The installation of your home landscape design is critical and takes into account the features you want to preserve and highlight–and those you don’t. In particular, tree preservation is crucial. It involves building barricades around trees you want to keep so that roots don’t get compacted or severed during construction. Other aspects of the landscape installation involve setting up temporary drainage, preparation of the soil and garden beds, and installing irrigation, drainage and lighting. Then comes planting the trees, shrubbery, groundcover and any seasonal color. The final step consists of mulching and cleanup.

Don’t forget that you need to maintain it!

From mowing to watering, regular landscape maintenance protects your investment, preserves the quality of the space and enhances your enjoyment of a lush, healthy landscape. It includes regular lawn mowing and trimming, shrub and tree pruning, fertilization, putting down rye grass, and management of pests and diseases.


Think about the style you would like to see

Home landscape design often falls into two very loose categories which are formal and informal landscaping. As the terms mention, the rigidity of a formal landscape is vastly different from the informal one. Formal gardens usually have geometric design with which the plants are of uniform variety as well as uniform sizes. Trimming and pruning are religiously followed to maintain the balance of a formal landscape.

On the other hand, an informal garden is something that looks very naturally cultivated. In spite of the natural look, informal gardens still need some maintenance work done to achieve the natural look. Home landscape design courses will teach individuals interested in landscaping what to give their clients as well as what to recommend.

Wrapping it all up

Home landscape design has several aspects under it. These aspects include backyard design, pocket garden design, formal landscaping, informal landscaping, and others. There are several differences with the designs mentioned earlier and these have something to do with how the homeowners expect their areas to look like.

It is one of the things that make a home more welcoming to guests as well as its owners. Owners who have beautifully landscaped areas tend to be more relaxed and satisfied with their homes, thus spending as much time in it as possible. This is one of the aims of a landscape architect.

We hope you find our hints and tips useful and thank you for visiting our blog,
Charlie and Barbara

How to give a landscape makeover to an older home


We are old 🙂 and some of the homes we lived in prior to building are even older 🙂 Trying to figure out what to renovate to maximise the return on investment when it comes time to sell was always difficult for us….until we discovered the ‘bang for buck’ we were getting from re-doing our gardens.

Let’s put it out there, landscaping plays an important part in the aesthetics of a home, one of the most important parts when you are talking about external aesthetics. Beautiful landscaping not only enhances the visual appearance of a home but also increases its commercial value. It’s well-known that homes with a well-designed and duly maintained landscape command a higher price in the real estate market.

Changing landscaping trends mean that older homes often look outdated and out of place. Unkempt gardens or overgrown bushes create a shabby look and reduce the appeal of a home. However, by giving your yard a makeover, you can improve the aesthetics of your home and transform it into a space that leaves an indelible mark on everyone, trust us, we have done this many times before and were always very happy with the result to our bank balance 🙂 As per usual we want to give you some valuable tips to share our knowledge so here are our top 5:

1. Pay attention to fire safety

Many older homes have junipers that are highly combustible. When giving a makeover to your landscape, choose plants that don’t catch fire easily. If you live in an area that’s located in a high wildlife zone, it becomes all the more important to have fire reduction measures in place.

2. Look for water conservation

Water conservation should be a priority when designing your new landscape. Many older homes feature plants that require a lot of water. To ensure you have a robust water conservation strategy, you can take the assistance of a trained specialist.

3. Choose a low maintenance landscape

Choosing a low maintenance landscape will ensure you don’t have to spend too much of time looking after it. You will hear of harping on about this a lot in our different articles but you should choose those plants, shrubs, and other materials that grow slowly and require minimum pruning. You can take the help of a specialist to know which type of materials would require minimum maintenance.


4. Have a plan

It is true that good planning can save you a heap of money in costly fixes and reworks. So before landscape designing, it is a must to have proper planning about it. You should consider your budget, construction, and installation in landscaping planning.

5. Make sure it is attractive

If you want to give an attractive look to your garden, you can install fountains and other water equipment in your garden.

Fruit trees can also increase the beauty of your garden. We think it is one of the best landscaping elements you can add as you can also reap the rewards of some fresh fruit….yummy!

You should consider removing very large trees that may have large roots which are destroying your garden by preventing the growth of other plants. Note you may need to consult with local authorities before removing.

These were a few tips that will help you give a landscape makeover to your older home. While DIY landscaping is a feasible option, it’s advisable that you choose a landscape design company for extensive landscaping projects. Leading landscape contractors provide complete solutions, including design and implementation to their clients. It’s advisable that you do a bit of research about the leading landscaping designers in your area and choose one who will work closely with you to create a space that meets your preferences.

Did you like this article? Please let us know. We run this blog out of the love we have for home construction, landscaping and generally being outdoors but we also love interacting with our readers.

Charlie and Barbara

Don’t make the same mistakes we did when building a new home


Let us guess, for years you have been thinking of building your dream home, and now you are finally going to do it. However, is it going to end up how it’s supposed to be? Although you’re probably aware of what you need and want to have in your home, do you also know what’s unnecessary and unimportant?

Poor planning and lack of budget could lead to disastrous results, no matter how innocent they might seem at first. Basically, when building a home, it’s very important to look at it through different angles. Take note of your current lifestyle, how big your family is, the way you socialize, and so on. Pay importance to these both online and in person. Likewise, don’t forget to consult the professionals in the industry.

Furthermore, poor design choices don’t only make the home uncomfortable, but unhealthy as well. This is where the professional architects and engineers become really helpful. Our recommendation is not to skimp on these services, a good architect can be the difference between a great home and a disaster. Check out our list below of some of the other things you should consider, based on lessons learnt from mistakes we have made in the past:

1. Make sure you factor in a decent HVAC System

An HVAC system that’s not functioning well could trigger mold growth and contribute to moisture issues. Pay attention to the size of the unit as well, because the models that are too small aren’t capable of cooling and heating the room efficiently. On the other hand, units that are too large would be using too much energy. Thus, look for a model that’s about the right size.

2. Space Planning

Even though having enough storage space is ideal, it’s also important to consider where you’re going to place the storage space. For example, is it really necessary to have a walk-in closet in your bedroom or master bath?

Those who live in a cooler climate where coats are often worn, a closet in the foyer would be ideal. On the other hand, if it seems like you won’t be using the coat that often, then you don’t have to build one at all.

3. Overall Planning and Design

Just like what has been mentioned earlier, when designing a home, pay attention to your lifestyle and habit. How long are you going to stay in this home. Is your family growing? Think in advance, and see what you’re going to need for your home.

4. Make sure you have proper lighting

There should be enough outlets and light fixtures in a home to suit your needs now and into the future. Likewise, there should be windows in every room so that natural light can easily enter. Consider using energy efficient lighting and maximise natural light to keep costs energy costs low.


5. Under-utilized Rooms

Building additional rooms, such as a game room, playroom, poker room, or multipurpose room definitely sounds interesting. However, you should also make sure that these rooms would be often used, or don’t think of building them at all as this would be impractical. Often times, an unused room turns into a dumping ground.

We built a purpose built poker room in our 2nd house and guess how many times we used it….twice a year! It wasn’t too long till we turned into a formal dining room.

If you really want to have a spare room, make sure that it could easily transition from one type to another. For example, a sewing room that never gets used for sewing can be turned into a guess room.

6. Where Should You Place the Laundry Room

This is a very personal decision, because the placement of the laundry room, washer, or dryer should be as relatively close to the bedroom as possible.

7. Placement of the Bedroom

The bedroom should be as far away from the traffic and noise as possible. Wherein, the master bedroom shouldn’t be located above or near the garage, especially for those whose family members are likely to be using the garage when you’re still resting.

Aside from that, it’s also advisable if you can keep the bedroom away from the central living area, so that you won’t get disturbed when you’re resting. For those who have one level homes, the master bedroom should be positioned at the far end of the house, and if possible, away from the garage.

8. Placement of the Kitchen

If the kitchen is located far away from the entry, then it would excruciating every time you have to bring the grocery inside the house and into the kitchen. That said, it’s preferable to place your kitchen near the back entrance of the house or the garage.

9. Placement of the Garage

The garage should be on the main level, because it’s one of the areas that people constantly come and go.

10. Don’t Let Others Tell You What You Need

Lastly, don’t let other people dictate how you should plan your house. Although professionals can give suggestions, it’s you who still know what’s best for your family.

We hope you have enjoyed these lessons that we have learnt over time and best of luck with the build of your home.

Charlie and Barbara

Things you should consider when building a new home

New home build

Our first ever post! Here we go, how exciting!

Building a new home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, trust us, we know, we have built three homes in our lifetime so far. One mistake would definitely put all your savings to waste or you’d end up spending more even if you don’t want to.

Building a new home involves time, money, and effort. Aside from that, it also implies that whatever your plan is, you should be taking things seriously and with great care. For builders, this may seem like an easy task to accomplish, but for you, you no doubt consider this project as something very precious– you’ll be creating their dream home, how exciting! Thus, you should take part in the planning, as well as the supervision of the whole project.

That said, as you plan to build your home, aside from zeroing-in on the right neighborhood, there are plenty of things that you must consider. Below you will find a list of what we consider to be the most important things to consider when building a new home…let’s get into it:

1. Keep Track of the Numbers

Before you start scouting for a good spot to build your home, it’s vital that you think about the possibilities involved in this project– will everything fall perfectly into place or you have to adjust something? If you have a particular design in mind, make sure to ask your builder to provide you with a rough estimate so you’ll have the idea of how much it’s going to cost.

Don’t forget to include the construction costs, tax benefits, initial down payment, and other related calculations. If it seems like you’re going to need some help financially, then consult the financing institution you have a contract with. Keep in mind though, the home construction lending norms are usually different from the usual mortgage financing you’re probably familiar of.

From our experience, if a home builder advertises a new home will cost X dollars, add 15% for extras that you will no doubt want i.e. better tiles, better lighting.

2. Build Reputation

There are plenty of builders in the market who would be more than happy to lend you a hand. However, not all of them are capable of doing a remarkable job and meeting your requirements. Thus, you should look for a good builder whom you can easily connect with.

Also, don’t forget to check the reputation of the builder. There are instances where even smaller builders are capable of doing a remarkable job– these are the ones that you should be hiring.

3. Have a Foresight

When building a home, you should also be thinking ahead; in a sense that you might consider selling your property later on. That means you should stay away from any unnecessary upgrades nor overprice your home with reference to the particular neighborhood you belong to. So, when adding features, try to think what the potential buyers may want.

For our Canada readers, here is a handy inforgraphic from which explains the salaries needed to buy a home in Canada. It is useful to keep this in mind when determining if your upgrades are going to mean your house is overprices when you try to sell.


4. Green Homes

Electricity charges keep on rising. That means you should think of ways on how to conserve electricity. This can be done through the use of eco-friendly materials capable of maximizing the energy efficiency of a home.

It’s highly recommended that you work hand in hand with your builder and draftsman as you try to understand how the placement and sizing of windows can affect the energy efficiency of a home.

As much as possible, opt for eco-friendly materials and the use of solar power– this includes choosing an HVAC system, as well as the insulation materials. They should be energy efficient.

I am sure you have heard of the Telsa Powerwall. Basically, a huge battery pack that will allow homes to save a considerable amount of money on electricity costs, in case you haven’t heard about it you can check out this short video.

5. Consider Expansion

If you’re thinking of living there for a longer period of time, like for several decades, they you should make it a point that you’re going to leave some scope for additions and expansions. Through this, you would be able to save a lot on future costs.

Don’t forget to create a detailed list of outset as well. Pay attention to this list and as much as possible, it should include everything you need, such as the features that should be part of your home. For example, if you’re thinking of adding a small spa to your poolscape then you should be jotting this down on your list– don’t forget the power saver lights that must be installed, or the feature wall with special nature stone cladding.

Pay attention to the windows you’re going to use in every room and make sure that you include this on your list. By doing so, you’ll be able to save a lot of time and money once you start with the construction process. Make sure that your draftsman includes these things as well, because they must be added while your house is getting built.

By following these tips, you’ll be confident that your dream house would finally turn into a dream come true.

We hope your enjoyed this article, we would love to know your thoughts so please reach out to us if you would like to have a chat.

Charlie and Barbara