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Step 3: Ask Yourself Some Questions

  • What do you like the most in your garden?

  • What do you like the least in your garden?

  • How do you want to use your garden?

  • How much money do you want to spend? (It is estimated that home property values can be increased 5 to 10 percent with an attractive, well-kept and/or colorful garden that fits well with the home.)

  • Visit nurseries and botanic gardens to see plants small and large. Not many plants in nurseries are appropriate. Be selective. Look for California native and Mediterranean plants that are drought tolerant or low water using.

  • Refer to this site and other plant guides that show the mature sizes of the plants that interest you. Be careful…plants grow…and may become too large for your property…causing you to work too hard or spend money to keep them confined to a smaller space.

  • Drive the neighborhood to see what plants do well (keep in mind the different sun and shade patterns around your home).

  • Is my current garden too much work?

  • How can I improve curb appeal?

  • What can I do to lower water and air conditioning costs?

  • How can I improve property value with a landscape makeover?

  • What will make the garden more useful, fun and productive?

  • What plants should I keep in the existing garden?

Starting with a Blank Slate: Considerations for New Home Sites

  • Is there a slope?

  • Where to screen for privacy

  • Look to add shading (on the south and west side of the home) for energy savings

  • What are the best viewing areas of the garden (from inside and on the outside)

  • Where to put play areas (kids), pet areas (dogs), entertainment areas, BBQ, vegetable garden or fruit trees, etc.

  • Where to build patios, decks and hardscape

  • Where to create an outside storage area

  • How much maintenance do you want to have?

  • Who will maintain your yard (you, hired gardener, etc.)?


  • Keep irrigation water/moisture away from the house structure

  • Drain rainwater water away from the house, but keep it on the site as much as possible.

  • Avoid runoff with berms, catchment basins, graveled leach channels and/or buried, perforated drain pipe

  • Keep water bills low with low water use plants

  • Group plants according to their watering needs. This saves water by not having to water to the needs of the most thirsty plants in a mixed group of plants with differing water needs, thereby over-watering the less thirsty plants.

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