Thorough planning leads to a useful and attractive landscape.

An area as large and one acre offers many opportunities for landscaping. Dividing the acre into zones helps when planning and installing landscaping. Some zones will require more maintenance than other zones. A single homeowner, or even the average family, usually cannot take care of a full acre of high-maintenance plants. The zones can be developed at different times, spreading out the labor for and cost of the landscaping. As with any landscaping, the homeowner’s needs and desires are the primary considerations.


Walk the one-acre site, and make maps of it. Note what is where and how it interacts with its environment. Find attractive and unsightly views. Look for signs of wildlife, different soil types, sunlight angles and shady spots.


Discuss with family members what they would like to do in or get from the landscape. Entertaining, playing sports, growing vegetable gardens and having fruit trees, flowers, shade, patios and water features are among considerations.


Establish zones for different uses in the acre. Elements that require daily attention or will be used daily should be in the zone closest to the house’s doors. Elements that require only seasonal or infrequent attention can be in a more distant zone.


Draw a rough outline of the property, and create a bubble diagram of the landscape. Draw existing features that will be left in place, and then draw a bubble, or circle, for each element in its appropriate zone.


Examine the relationship of the bubbles on the diagram, and determine whether or not they are compatible. Consider personal, aesthetic, environmental and all other factors that apply as well as trouble spots and problems that need to be corrected, such as noise or fire danger. You may draw several bubble diagrams before you are satisfied with the plan.


Measure the acre’s dimensions, and draw a scale bubble diagram of the property. If a survey was made when the property was purchased, using it will help you make the diagram. Place existing items as closely as possible to their correct location on the diagram. Draw the items in your diagram to scale. Adjust the design as necessary to make everything fit.


Add pathways, screens, walls and other necessary structures to the diagram. Determine the area’s zoning requirements if you want to build structures.


Complete all major earthwork or grading. Dig swales, ponds, pools and drainage ditches. Install underground utilities, irrigation pipes and wires. Unless you have experience performing those tasks and/or are licensed for those tasks, hire a contractor to complete them.


Build hardscapes. Hardscapes include pavement, patios, paths, rock work, walls sheds, fences and raised beds. You may wish to use a contractor if the tasks are beyond your capabilities.


Make fine adjustments to the grading with a rake and shovel. When the grading is finalized, cover the soil with sheet mulch or add broad-scale soil amendments, such as compost, as necessary.


Install trees, major shrubs and other large plants. This task can be done by zone, starting next to the house and moving outward.


Plant ground covers, lawn and other non-woody plants.


Install drip irrigation as needed to ensure all plants are watered adequately. Keep the plants watered, and help them become established by observing

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