While it may be a bit late in the season to think about landscaping updates or changes, it is the perfect time to do a little planning. Just like buying skis in May or a new motorcycle in October, there's a good chance you can take advantage of some end-of-season deals. It would also be a good time to bend  the ear of your local gardening or landscaping expert and get some input on your lot. Today we're going to dig in to some solid strategies to make the most of your yard. We will be focusing on adding accents.

As is the case for the home itself, neglecting the landscaping around your home is equally detrimental to not only the curb appeal, but the general look of the property. If you are going to take the time to purchase and plant flowers or a garden, it is important that you also commit to maintenance. Simple weeding and pruning (more on that later) can keep your yard looking fit and tidy, as well as helping the health of the plants and flowers. Much like your New Year's resolutions, if you are not going to keep them, why make them?

One pertinent warning that professional landscapers and gardeners agree on is not going too big when choosing your plants. As you walk through your local nursery or browse the web, don't be tempted to match what you see. Just like every piece of furniture will not look great in your living room, every plant you see may not work in your yard. Considerations include how much space you currently have to fill, as well as the plant being right for your region. Some plants are invasive and can be harmful to other plants in your yard. The goal is to allow a plant to grow into its area of your yard as well as grow to its appropriate size. Having to cut back a plant because of poor planning is never ideal.

And speaking of cutting back, pruning is something that, while necessary and vital to the health of your plants, trees and shrubs, should be done with careful planning and care. If you ever fell prey to a sibling cutting your bangs as a child, you know the look to avoid. You can do a little research online to learn more about how and when to prune specific plants. The goal here is to prune enough to solve your design or space problem, while maintaining the health and look of the item being pruned. It is far too easy to get a little excited and cut branches back too far. The best advice I've heard is to cut one or two limbs and then step back to evaluate. Keeping yourself buried in the thick of it will inevitably lead to too much being cut. 

While we're on the subject of too much trimming, it is important to have patience. I once decided I was going to build my father a putting green in our backyard, about one week before Father's Day. As anyone who has planted grass or worked at a golf course knows, this was a foolhardy idea from the start. Not only was the base below the soil wrong, nothing at all about that idea made any sense whatsoever. When you are ready to start buying plants and organizing your newly landscaped yard, you have to give it time. "I tend to remind new owners that the plants and shrubs they purchase for the new home are going to take a few months to really settle in," notes Badger Realty agent Linda Walker. "Don't be discouraged when they don't look how you imagined as soon as they are planted."

While you are in the planning mode, it's good to consider colors as well. I am very guilty of wanting every color under the sun in every room and area of my home. Luckily, I have shared homes with more reasonable people with better taste, so those rainbow desires have been tempered. When you are buying plants and flowers, resist the urge to cover all of your color palate bases and stick to just a few. Your garden and lawn will look more balanced and settled. Of course, if you're like me, you don't really care what the neighbors think, so let your freak flag fly.

Lastly, be sure to work more than one of each plant throughout your design. Don't just throw one type of plant in an area and make that a focal point. If you decide on a species of plant, work in a handful of them so the area looks more balanced and consistent. This also helps you avoid the above trap of having too many colors and species strewn about. If the look you are after is professional and manicured, work on your patterns.

Happy planting!

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