Designing the perfect backyard means combining your family’s wants and needs with an expert eye for detail. The best landscape architects in NJ know how to make all your dreams come true — but they also know how to go beyond your expectations. When you work with a trained professional, you get more than just building expertise. You also get loads of artistic advice about maximizing the beauty that already exists on your property while minimizing problem areas like steep slopes or poor drainage.

If you’re just starting out on your landscape design journey, it can be helpful to take a look at your property with some insight from a professional landscape designer. Consider these tips as you look at your yard and think about what you want to get out of your new landscaping.

Curved Lines Are Key

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a professional landscape design and a DIY job is to look at the lines. Beginners tend to think in squares and rectangles, laying their pavers in boring block patterns. Professional landscape architects, on the other hand, know that curves look more natural and can draw the eye across the property to rest on a gorgeous focal point — and not your neighbor’s trash cans. Whether you’re designing a planting bed, a series of pathways, a retaining wall or a patio, adding curves to the design will improve the overall “flow” of your property and make it feel much more natural. There is, however, a time and a place for designing in a linear fashion. Many contemporary or modern homes call for linear patios and walkways to fit the style of the home and the homeowner’s tastes.

Design for All Your Senses

It’s easy to focus on what you see when considering your landscape design, but you can take your backyard to the next level by considering all of your senses. For example, the right hedge can dampen noise from the street or from a particularly loud neighbor, in addition to adding some privacy screening. Likewise, a water feature like a pond or waterfall provides the soothing sounds of trickling water to create a relaxing oasis. You can also plant native varieties of perennials and shrubs to attract local birds to bring their songs to your backyard.

In addition to sight and sound, your sense of smell is also important in landscape design. Consider choosing plants for their scent as well as their beauty to enhance your outdoor experience. A great landscape designer will also incorporate several different textures of materials — whether paving stones or plants — to appeal to your sense of touch in myriad ways.

Don’t Skimp on the Lighting

Landscape lighting can do so much more than illuminate a walkway at night. A comprehensive lighting design will significantly boost your property value as it adds security, safety and beauty. Properly placed lights can highlight the best features of your house from the street, but it can also be used to create fascinating displays of shadow. For example, lights set up behind a tree or sculpture can create a nighttime silhouette of that feature so that you can enjoy its shape, even when it’s dark out. You can also use small LED spotlights to create interesting shadows through branches and leaves. In New Jersey, this show will change throughout the year as deciduous trees lose their leaves, but a talented landscape architect will point you in the right direction for sculptural plants that cast interesting shadows in all four seasons.

Shelter Your Seating

A patio exposed to the sun may seem like a great idea in the middle of the winter, but you’ll be much happier in the long run when you design a seating area to be shaded and sheltered. This will allow you to enjoy dining al fresco or lounging outdoors no matter what the weather. Consider concealing your patio seating area with plantings that will offer privacy and shade. You can also create a bona fide outdoor room by building a permanent roof over your patio. Landscape architects in NJ love this solution because it shelters your patio from rain and even snow, giving you the option to add a whole outdoor kitchen to the mix while protecting it from the elements.

Keep Everything in Scale

When it comes to great design, the proportion is everything. If you have an acre or more to work with, a full outdoor fireplace may be more appropriate than a small fire pit to accommodate your guests and create a harmonious balance with the size of your property and home. Likewise, it’s important to choose plants and trees that are in proportion with the rest of your landscaping. Landscape architects are trained to know the right ratios for height and width to create an overall look in which nothing looks out of scale.

These are just a few of the tricks of the trade that a professional landscape architect in NJ brings to the table when it comes to building your new backyard. Every project is different, so these tips should be balanced with your unique needs, whether you long for a swimming pool to be the center of family fun, or you wish to create a formal garden that brings year-round interest to your property.

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