Incorporate Plants Into the Design
When placing plants, consider their growth characteristics, as well as their water and sun/shade requirements:
  • Plants that need full sun should not be placed under trees.
  • Plants with similar water needs should be grouped together.
  • To avoid a cluttered look and the need for extra pruning, choose appropriately sized plants and place them an appropriate distance apart. Several of the publications presented in the resources section of this guide provide extensive information on low water use plants.

Design Tips
It is not necessary to make a realistic drawing of each plant. In fact, most landscape architects and designers use symbols, usually circles, to represent plants on their landscape plans.
  • For each plant, draw a circle in a size that represents the plant at maturity (when it is largest in size).

Make a Wish List
Draw Existing Site
Learn About Plants
Learn About Materials
Draw Preliminary Plan
Incorporate Plants
Design Irrigation System
Draw Final Design
Prepare Cost Estimate
Trees and large cacti, like saguaros, comprise the "backbone" of the landscape since they are permanent and clearly visible year-round.
  • Place trees first, locating them to maximize their shading benefits and aesthetic functions (such as "framing" the corners of the house).
  • Avoid placing trees near overhead and underground utility lines and take care not to block an especially nice view
  • Then, place large cacti in areas where you want to draw attention.
  • Next, draw in the shrubs. Shrubs can break up large spaces and visually anchor a home to the site. They also can be used to screen out undesirable views, soften the look of walls and fences and filter harsh reflective sunlight. Massing several shrubs of the same variety is usually more pleasing to the eye than mixing several different varieties together. A more formal look is achieved by using straight or geometric arrangements.
Groundcovers, vines and accent plants, such as small cacti and succulents, add color and texture to the landscape and provide continuity between major landscape components. In addition to adding color, groundcovers can be used temporarily to fill in spaces in a new landscape.
  • Use vines to soften the look of walls and fences and to create additional shade.
  • Add accent plants to create interest and to achieve a unique look. The eye is naturally drawn to bold accents, color and unusual forms. Reserve these elements for those areas you want to emphasize, such as an entryway, a special tree, or a focal point in the landscape.
  • After placing groundcovers, vines and accent plants, draw in any areas to be used for a vegetable garden or bedding plants.
  • Make at least two copies of your plan.

Next Step >>

Additional Resources:
Trees in the Landscape

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