Backyard a Mess?
Where do you begin when your backyard's a distaster? I have two dogs, four children and patchy grass.—Janet Hod, Teaneck, New Jersey
With the addition of kids and pets, landscapes change to meet the family's needs. Suddenly, we find we have a hodgepodge of plants, playthings and yard ornaments!
Start your makeover with a family meeting, and discuss everyone's wants and needs. Then measure your yard's length and width, and draw it to scale on graph paper. Note existing features like trees, the patio and outbuildings.
Now compare the list of wants with the space you have available. Can you divide your backyard into smaller "rooms"? For example, identify how much space you need to entertain. Do children and pets need a large grassy area to play? Tuck flowers and vegetables into spots easily accessible, yet protected from footballs, Frisbees and pets. Find space for garbage cans, compost bins, toys and other items that find their way into your backyard.
Set your sketch aside and revisit in a week—did you miss anything? Then, refer to your sketch as you plan each change. Take it with you to the garden center as you pull together a useful yet beautiful space.