Landscape Plans

​Share this page​

​​​​​​​​Developing a Landscape Plan

​Landscaping can be a complex undertaking. You can avoid costly mistakes by starting with a well-designed landscape plan. Keep in mind that consulting a l​icensed landscape architect or other certified landscape professional is worth the investment.

"Do-it-yourself" designers need a few simple tools

  • Tape measure that extends 25 or more feet;

  • Pencil, eraser, and ruler or other sca​​​le;

  • Tracing paper (available in sheets or rolls at office supply or drafting supply stores); and

  • Several large sheets of drafting paper or graph paper.

​Putting it on paper

​Don't worry if you are not the best artist; think of a plan as a "working tool" rather than a "work of art."

  • Start by drawing a diagram or footprint of your existing yard and what's in it. The yard should be drawn to scale (for example, a quarter of an inch on your ruler equals one foot in your yard). An easy quick-start method to begin your drawing is to trace over a satellite image of your home and landscape.

  • Think about the function of each area of your yard. What will you remove from your yard (lawn or shrubs)? What's needed (maybe a backyard patio for entertaining family, an efficient sprinkler and drip system)? What can you live without (more lawn, high-water-using plants)? How to phase installation?

  • Overlay your yard footprint with tracing paper to conceptually draw free-form "bubbles" that begin to define the spaces in your yard (for example, draw a large bubble that represents a new patio off your back door, and a "U-shaped" bubble that represents planting beds that border your patio). Work out how you will use and move around the spaces in your yard.

  • Pull out your ruler or scale. Translate bubbles into defined areas, paying attention to actual size and function. Plan demolition and installation strategies.

  • Take a second look. If you have included lawn in your plan, limit it to a small section of your yard and plan to water grass with designated "grass-only" sprinkler zones. Also plan for mulch and soil preparation.​

  • Pick a simple palette of Arizona-native or low-water-use trees a​nd plants. For Valley homes watered by Salt River Project flood irrigation, choose plants that thrive without supplemental watering. When selecting plants, consider natural form, mature size, and other qualities (including color, fragrance, sun/shade tolerance and level of maintenance, toxicity, allergens, thorns and spines).

  • Zone or group plants by watering requirements and plan sprinkler and drip system zones (for example, low-water-use plants should be watered with other low-water-use plants, moderate-water-use plants with other moderate-water-use plants).

  • Use the plan you created as a working tool when you install or make changes to your landscape.

Where can I find out more?