Start by making a plan that takes into account your yard’s soil type and acidity, drainage patterns, and sunlight exposure. Match plant types with areas where they are likely to thrive. Your plan should show how your property will look right away, and how it will look years from now when your plants have grown. Without a plan, you could wind up with an assortment of plants that do not complement each other in size, shape, or color. You might end up with shade where you want sun and with the view from, or of, your house obscured. Worst yet, you might pay for expensive plants when inexpensive ones would do just as well.

It’s easy to make a rough drawing showing your house, other structures, property lines, and desired plants. Get guidelines and ideas from gardening websites, friends with attractive gardens, and the experts listed below.

You can also hire a landscape architect or garden designer to provide complete service, including consultation, design, assistance in selecting a landscape contractor, and supervision of plant selection and contractor performance. Or get only the consultation or the design. Your first conversation with an architect may be free; after that, fees are set in various ways.

For more information on landscape designers and landscape contractors, see our article on landscaping help.

Your local cooperative extension office has master gardeners you can call for advice and help with diagnosing plant problems if you bring or send them specimens. Other local sources of gardening expertise:

Washington State University Extension
2606 West Pioneer Avenue
Puyallup, WA 98371
253-445-4516
http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/extension
http://gardening.wsu.edu

Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main Street
Bellevue, WA 98005
425-452-2750
http://www.bellevuebotanical.org

Center for Urban Horticulture
3501 NE 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98105
206-543-8616
http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/visit/cuh.php

Lake Wilderness Arboretum
22520 SE 248th Street
Maple Valley, WA 98038
253-293-5103
http://www.lakewildernessarboretum.org

PlantAmnesty
P.O. Box 15377
Seattle, WA 98115
206-783-9813
http://www.plantamnesty.org

Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Drive East
Seattle, WA 98112
206-543-8800
http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/gardens/wpa.shtml