Properly Planning Your Landscape
If you want to make the most attractive and beneficial use of your grounds, you'll want to make sure you plan your landscaping very well. Most people take the idea of pathways, coverage, foliage and so forth for granted, having no idea how much thought and planning it requires to get it just right. Properly planning ahead is the key to having a great looking landscape.
You'll want to consider several elements in your design, including access (walkways), lighting (if any), coverage, and color. One of the most often overlooked plants are trees, as they are not only to be incorporated in the beginning, but must be accommodated over time as they grow and take up more space and ad more beauty to the landscape.
Remember that trees have an annual cycle of growth, leaf shedding, flowering, and so forth. Some trees do this more than others, with evergreens shedding almost all year round and larger-leafed trees shedding all at once. Be aware of this and how it will affect your landscape's overall look.
The overall design of your landscape, whether it be a huge undertaking or just a few square feet of yard, is to think is layers. Think of the background, middle ground, and foreground and what elements will be in them to create the texture and layers you want. Also be aware of how you'll need to get through these areas to work with the plants, care for them, or just get around the space in daily activity. This is where walkways, often hidden by the middle ground elements, will come into play.
Use trees to screen the property and, if needed, to provide shade for the plants that enjoy that so that you can incorporate variety into your landscape design. The prettier, flowering plants are usually the foreground plants, but you should be aware of their flowering cycles so that there are no bare spots during the year. Also be aware of how large some plants can get and be sure to include plant selection plans for your design.
Finally, you should begin by planting the larger plants (trees, shrubs, etc.) first and work your way down the list to the smallest and easiest of the group. Seasonal planting should also be incorporated so you aren't having to do all of the work at once. Some plants prefer fall plantings (most trees, for instance) and some prefer spring planting (most flowers). Others can be planted at almost any time so long as they have a good climate for recovery (anytime in summer).
Most importantly, don't forget to stop and smell the roses and enjoy your beautiful landscape and garden! Watch it through the year as it goes through changes and start planning your improvements for next year. That's a big part of the fun!