NatureScapes don’t necessarily mean “wild” looking yards, rather they are created to contribute to nature, instead of depleting it.
1. Remember the basic principles of NatureScape: to employ landscaping practices that conserve water; reduce contaminated runoff; and provide wildlife habitat. These principles are reflected in eye-pleasing, money saving and value enhancing landscapes.
2. What do you want your property to do? Will it serve as a playground or an outdoor entertainment venue? A vegetable garden? How much time do you want to spend on maintenance? Your practical needs determine how to allocate space.
3. What does your site analysis tell you that you have to build on? The amount of shade and sun that covers areas, soil types, drainage patterns and exterior structures are facts to consider. Would you rather work with what you have or spend money and time working against it?
4. Draw what you see. Taking a bird’s eye view, locate the building (facing the appropriate direction) and other structural elements such as driveways. Note the location of existing vegetation, open space, and on-site or adjacent water bodies.
A helpful tool for this step is a copy of the survey completed for your mortgage.
5. Now draw what you want to see. Outline the areas you would like to use for specific purposes, such as play areas or sites for butterfly gardening. Draw in where you would like to see plants, trees, and water features. Don’t worry about specific plant selection just yet. Group vegetation according to water needs to make irrigation efficient.
6. Consider irrigation. Do you want to change or install a system to make it more efficient? Here are some helpful tips for getting a handle on planning.
- Different areas of the yard have different water needs, depending on what is planted, how well water drains and the amount of sunlight. Each of these areas is called a hydro-zone. Create separate hydro-zones for lawn and shrubs, and shady and sunny areas.
- Remember to evaluate existing hydro-zones before adding more plants. Now is also a good time to relocate plants that aren’t thriving due to incorrect hydro-zone placement before adding new ones.
- Never combine spray heads, rotors, or drip irrigation in the same hydro-zone because the water application rates are different for each of these.
7. Select plants and other landscape materials. Choose plants according to plant type (large tree, small tree, shrub, vine); sunlight needs (full sun, light shade, etc.); soil conditions; and whether the plant attracts wildlife.