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Case study in progress: Landscape master plans and phased construction at my house

Over the years I’ve slowly (and I mean slowly) been chipping away at my own yard. The problem is that it’s happened in fits and starts, at the rare moments where a rise in free time coincides with an ebb in my back pain AND the occurrence of decent weather. Creating a landscape master plan, and doing a phased landscape install? These things require the planning and thought that I give to my clients. Time to bring that home. Here’s a glimpse into exactly how the process I use works. I’ll be updating throughout the year.

Culpeper Landscape Design Plan

Chopping it up – how to break a landscape into phases

Just like I do with my clients (imagine that! Physician, heal thyself) I’ve followed the following steps to determine a phased approach:

Step 1 – assess my priorities

So the first issue is small, unfinished projects. I have about a day’s worth of grading and smoothing and cleaning up a few small piles.

After that, my #1 priority is getting the upper garden area prepped for spring. Every year we miss the window for peas, dangit, and I WANT FRESH PEAS! Realistically that’s a pretty small project. After that I need to get the patio in. The theory last year was that by ripping up most of the existing patio to use the stones for the upper path, I’d be forced to finish the new patio. Sadly, no. I didn’t. And that meant that MJ refused to sit outside with me, because without stone under her she becomes bug chow.

Doing the patio also means building the waterfall table, so that will be a fun bit of masonry and carpentry. From there it’s adding a few paths to keep puppy paws out of the mud, running a bit of conduit, and plantings. Easy, right?

Step 2 – determine dependencies

This is far and away the most important – and most often neglected – step of landscape master planning and phasing. I’m building a waterfall table on my patio. That means that unless I want to dig up my whole patio in the future, the first thing I need to do is install the footers and blockwork for the table, then dig the reservoir pit and run plumbing. Then the patio can go in. And of course, I’ll need to consider where all the sleeves and conduits and drainpipes need to run. And yes, those do show up on plan.

Step 3 – set an execution plan

This is what makes things so much simpler, right? I’m involved in a lot of big, complex projects and the only way to nail every step is to map them all out. Now that we know what each phase is, we can map out the following:

  • who is involved (me? helpers? electrician?)
  • what materials are needed
  • what prep has to happen
  • estimated timeline

This is the same set of steps we take for all residential builds. Keep your fingers crossed for weather warm enough that I can dig and we’ll start seeing some progress!

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