Expert Landscape Ideas You Can Tackle This Winter

(ARA) - The chill of winter winds might have you wishing for the first buds of spring, but garden lovers don't need to let the cold season get them down. In fact, this can be the ideal time to start planning your landscape for spring and summer. Leaving the work until the last minute, when plants are starting to push up through the ground, will only delay your enjoyment. So harness your excitement for spring and prepare a plan with some expert help.

Tackling a landscaping plan can be overwhelming, so it's a good idea to consult a professional landscape designer who knows the ins and outs of when, where and how to plant and how to install hardscapes. By starting in the winter designers will be more readily available to help you refine your plans, and you'll be ready to get a head start as soon as the weather breaks.

"There are so many details involved in creating the landscape of one's dreams that it's easy to become confused," says Bobbie Schwartz, president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). "A landscape designer will be experienced in taking on the multiple unique challenges that every property poses.  In the long run, hiring a professional, who will get it done right the first time, can save money.  That professional will keep you from making expensive mistakes."

Here are some tips from professional landscape designers that will inspire you to get started with your plans right now.

* Consider the view. Is there a certain room from which you tend to spend more time looking out at your landscape? If so, take the time to really examine what you're seeing. Take note - literally - of anything that catches your eye, good or bad. Follow the sightlines, and notice where they take your eyes. This will give you a better defined idea of what you want to accentuate, what you want to hide, and what could be adjusted through simple changes like pruning or minor transplanting.

* Collect inspiration. Flipping through magazines with colorful photos of beautiful gardens is always fun, but it can also be practical. Pull out pages that feature ideas or plants that you'd like to incorporate into your landscape design. Be sure to look at smaller photos, which often have a hard time standing up to full-page images, as they can be just as rich with ideas. Creating a file of images that inspire and excite you is a good idea, and it can be a great way to connect with your landscape designer when you meet.

* Think curb appeal. Having a beautiful backyard retreat is often the goal of a landscaping project, but the view that guests and passersby have is just as important. A well-designed landscape can emphasize your home's beauty and diminish any potential eyesores, making it more appealing to you, your neighbors and any potential buyers. According to the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, it's been shown that well-designed landscapes can increase home sale prices up to 10.8 percent, compared to homes with simply average landscapes.

Thinking about spring is easy in the middle of winter. Instead of just daydreaming about spending warmer days in a beautiful garden, start planning to make that dream a reality. Get in touch with a landscape designer who can help you by going to www.apld.org and clicking on Find a Designer.  If you and your designer have a plan in place ahead of time, you'll be able to spend less time working on the project in the spring and more time enjoying it.