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 county's 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:

University of Minnesota Extension
240 Coffey Hall
1420 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 5518
612-624-1222
http://www.extension.umn.edu

Andersen Horticultural Library
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318
612-301-7590
http://www.arboretum.umn.edu

Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association
1813 Lexington Avenue North
Roseville, MN 55113
651-633-4987
www.mnla.biz

Minnesota Horticultural Society
2705 Lincoln Drive
Roseville, MN 55113
651-643-3601 or 800-676-6747
http://www.northerngardener.org