Exterior Design

Planning your dream Yard

June 6, 2020

Planning your dream yard
Modern Lakeside Dream Yard
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I am a corporate banking Senior Vice President with a passion for antiques, crafts, and beautiful interiors. Proud mom of Seth and Lily Lee. 


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Tristy Lee- DIY | Home Decor | Art | Project Inspiration

Do you love to visit gardens in your city or on vacation? We do almost every trip we take as a family we visit a city garden. Do you want to transform your yard into a garden getaway full of the same serenity and beauty? As an architectural designer, Jet knows all about transforming ideas into reality. We are going to share our best resources for gathering ideas to plan your dream yard. Where to go to get ideas for your yard.  Next, figure out your landscape design style.  Finally, what to look for when you see gardens that have inspiring elements.

Yard Design Inspiration

Yard Design The Dream Idea Phase:

Gathering ideas for your project is always one of our favorite things to do. We are sharing our best tips on how to define your style and pick ideas for your yard. It is essential to build a collection of ideas that you can reference as you talk to landscapers and designers.  There are many places to get ideas. Locations for inspiration include visits to gardens in your city, local nurseries, and internet research at sites like HOUZZ and Pinterest. We also encourage you to build personal photo collections from places your visit during vacations, home-shows, and as you drive through your favorite neighborhoods, also make solid reference points.


Where to get dreamy landscape ideas:

Visit City Gardens:

One of the best places to start is at local gardens because they will have plants and designs that work in your temperature zone. We have several amazing local gardens within an hour of our home.  Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point Gardens and Red Butte Gardens are two of our favorite places to visit.

• Take pictures of the plants you like and include the tags that indicate the type of plant. This is important, especially if you are out of town so you can look up the zone and growing tips for the plant. 
• Create a folder to save your photos or an album on your phone to store them all in one place.  
• Take pictures of planters, garden art, benches, water features, and arbors that inspire you.
• Take photos of plant grouping that you like to encourage your layout options at home. You don’t need to know they styles you like but if you take pictures a landscape artist will be able to tell from the pictures.  

Garden memberships typically give you a discount at other gardens throughout the country so don’t forget to explore them on your vacations.

Garden Pictures
Thanksgiving point arbor

Visit Local Nurseries:

We support our local nurseries with our business for many reasons. They select and grow plants that work in your local growing zones. We have an amazing local nursery Cook’s within a few miles of our house. When Jet was working on the initial drafts of our yard designs we went to Cook’s to discuss our ideas the staff. They gave us some great suggestions based on their expertise including where to place plants and the best options for grouping them. They can help you pick plants that work well together throughout the yard considering sun, shade, and similar water needs. Take time to discuss the scale and mature size of plants, annuals vs. perennials, and the time of year they bloom. Planning carefully will ensure you have blooms though the full growing season.  Local Nurseries and landscapers will help you plan your dream yard with two feet in reality.

Try to avoid the spring rush go when it is a slower time of the year so you can get their time and attention to help you out. Thank you so much to Cook’s Nursery.  The gave us several pointers including some great advice we had three black lace plants in our cart and they coached us by asking some questions into putting two of them back. These plants grow, grow, grow one was definitely enough for our front yard. 

Take a Sunday Drive:

This one is one of my favorites. Take a drive and check out the new trendy neighborhoods to see new trends. Don’t forget to visit the established areas to see how landscapes look fully mature. Again take pictures to your local nursery can help you with plants that you fall in love with on your drives. Jet is known for his charm, and I can say he had no fear of knocking on doors to ask a few questions of some of the owners of the favorite yards we saw.

Jet recommends this to start the conversation “Hello, I’m not selling anything.  I was driving through your neighborhood and your yard is beautiful.  Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” If they are newer neighborhoods, it is a great way to get recommendations for landscapers.

Take your search online:

Pinterest and Houzz are two websites where you can spend hours looking at beautiful landscape ideas from all over the world to your local cities.   I created several Pinterest boards to store and organize all of my thoughts. We created separate boards for firepits, plants, arbors, planters, and water features this kept us organized when we wanted to work on specific sections of our yard. Pinterest and Houzz are great places to preview the work of landscape architects and landscape companies in your area.  

Get creative searching the sites using favorite plants and landscape styles you like to see examples.

Yard design what to look for: 

Starting to look for yard ideas now that you know where to look for ideas, what types of things should I look at specifically.  If you can’t visit these amazing gardens in person looking up pictures of them online will give you some instant inspiration.

What is your favorite landscape design style:  

Modern Landscapes

Modern Landscape Designs:

Do you like modern groupings of plants, that are often in sections with groups of similar plants in organized patterns?  One of our favorite gardens featuring this style and photographed here is in Palm Springs CA. Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center.

English Landscape Designs

English Landscape Designs:

Do you like modern groupings of plants, that are often in sections with groups of similar plants in organized patterns?  The inspiring photo here is of the gardens at the world famous Butchart Gardens on Victoria Island BC. 

Japanese gardens

Japanese Landscape Designs:

 Features like koi ponds, sculpted plants, and delicate layers of precisely groomed plants and hedges.  The inspiration garden shown here was actually on Victoria Island at Hatley Castle where they filmed the X-Men.  The amazing gardens there are a hidden gem where you will have acres of great photo spots with none of the crowds that are at Butchart Gardens. 

Desert Landscape

Desert Landscape Designs:

Features like Xeriscaping water-wise plants and rocks.  The inspirational garden features here is in Las Vegas NV. the Springs Preserve

 Keep in mind you can get the flavor of these gardens in Utah, but you have to adapt to plants that grow well in our growing zone.

What colors do you want in your landscape?

What colors do you want to show off in your landscape design.  Do you like tone on tone variations? Like being drawn to a mixture of green grasses all similar in tones of green? Are you drawn to colorful mixes of flowers? If so, an easy way to pick flowers that complement each other is to copy what you see at these gardens.  Do you love the way yellow daffodils play up against purple iris’s? It is pretty hard to mess up colors in flowers; they are all so beautiful. For our house, we really wanted to highlight the look of being by the lake with lots of grasses and pops of pink, red, white, and purple. As a side note Jet says you can’t go wrong with blues and violets since the Asian believe this is a color of fortune and prosperity.

1. Get color inspiration from your pictures.  Review your pictures and look at the colors in the pictures that draw you in.  Then talk to your landscapers and local nursery they can help you to pick plants that will give you a similar feel.
2. Pick a theme of 2 or 3 colors as your base and get all of your blooming flowers in those colors.  Remember green is a garden neutral and can be mixes with any color combinations.
3. Go all green. Think about grasses, succulents and cactus mixes.
4. Go with a single color in variations.  Remember green is neutral and can be mixed in.

Purple and white flowers
Pink only flowers
Green tones

How to add Elevations for visual interest in yards.

1. Pay attention to the way they use elevations in the gardens.
2. Take pictures of planters that add height.
3. Different plants with height variance including trees to climbing and draping vines.
4. Watch how they use slopes and hills.
5. Look at Trellis and Arbor options that add height and drama with flowering vine options.

Levels elevations
Hedges for height

Think about water features:

There is nothing like hearing the sounds of water.  If you have the budget to go big with a dramatic water feature or simple free-standing fountain, it can add serenity to your yard. When considering water features, make sure you understand the maintenance and climate that you are building in.  It is important to make decisions early if you want these features to plan them into the design.

Water Features
Water Feature

Think about Lighting

Landscape lighting can add elegance and provide additional security for your house. With solar and LED options available it is something to think about early in the design.  Lighting is a great option to highlight paths, arbors, and elevations.

Yard Lighting

Planning your Dream yard:

After you have spent some time cultivating your style and finding inspiring ideas it is time to narrow things down. What are the critical features you want to see in your yard. We had so much fun during the planning phase for our dream yard. We ultimately ended up going with a more eclectic design that pulled in elements of Modern, Desert, and English style gardens. The features that were important to us include a patio for family events and a firepit. We fell in love with arbors across the country, and we knew we wanted a Wisteria covered Arbor as part of our final yard design. Planning will help you get ready for the next phase designing your dream yard and working with landscapers.  If your thinking about doing some of the work yourself check out DIY I love it but can I do it, make sure you get your free Project Evaluation Guide.

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I'm Tristy... 
I am that friend who will say "Dream big...Let's do it."

My dreams exceed my ability to do regularly. But with the right vision and the right partners, you can do anything!

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