To get started, determine your garden’s soil type and acidity, how things drain, and how much sun different parts of your property get.

When making a plan (or adding to an existing one), you’ll want to match plant types with areas where they’ll probably thrive. Account for how your property will look immediately and years from now when your plants have grown. Without a plan, you could wind up with a mishmash of flowers and bushes that don’t look good together, shade where you wanted sun, or a jumbo tree blocking the view from your picture window. Worst yet, you might pay for expensive plants when inexpensive ones would work just as well.

Do a rough drawing of your house, other structures, property lines, and desired plants. Get guidelines and ideas from gardening websites, friends with attractive outdoor spaces, and the experts listed below.

If you want professional help, you have several options. A garden center or landscape contractor can send a designer to your place. And if you want to do your own buying and planting, you can pay a consultation fee for help preparing your own plan or a design fee if a designer draws the plan. Or get a free consultation by asking a nursery for a landscaping estimate.

You can also hire a landscape architect or garden designer to do everything, 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; from then on, fees are set in various ways.

Expert Advice

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

University of MN Extension

Andersen Horticultural Library at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318

Minnesota State Horticultural Society
1935 County Road B2W, Suite 125
Roseville, MN 55113

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