With all of the excitement and planning that goes into building a new home, some homebuyers may tend to overlook an important part of the process: planning and developing their home landscape. After all, a well-planned and carefully tended yard not only adds to the beauty and appeal of your new home but to its value as well.

Before you head out and plant trees or build gardens and water features, it’s wise to first consider the climate, topography, size, and layout of your outdoor space. Poor landscaping can actually damage your home if you haven’t planned carefully, and professional advice is often essential.

Landscaping and water drainage

A nice lawn doesn’t just make your home look and feel welcoming; it also helps to prevent soil erosion and water damage.

Think of it this way; a typical 40’ x 100’ Alberta yard can receive about 144,000 litres (or about 14 inches) of rain between May and October. All that rain has to go somewhere, and it’s essential to ensure it’s not flowing towards your home’s foundation.

The placement of your landscaping really matters! Grassy areas and planting beds require drainage slopes to move water away from your home, and large tree roots are capable of cracking foundation and rupturing utilities. Ensure you grade your lawn and garden away from your home — you’ll be happy you took the time to plan ahead.

Give your lawn some TLC

New lawns need extra care and attention. Start by saturating the sod with water as soon as it’s laid down; keep the grass moist for the first few days, then reduce the watering to every other day during the second week. Try to avoid walking on new sod for the first two weeks as well.

Once the grass has had time to settle in, your lawn will need about 25mm (or about one inch) of water a week — including rain — during the summer. It’s usually enough to water your lawn once a week; try to apply the water evenly and slowly so it penetrates the soil without simply running off. This means hot sunny areas may need more water and shady areas may require less water. It’s also important to avoid overwatering, as saturated soil prevents air from reaching the roots where it’s needed the most.

When mowing your lawn, landscapers recommend grass should be approximately 50 mm (or two inches) long.

Easy as one, two, tree

Make sure you plant trees away from your foundation and think about how large they’ll be in 15 or 20 years. A full-grown tree can block light from entering windows and could buckle your driveway or sidewalk.

Trees and bushes should be watered right after being transplanted with quality drinking water and a root-starter fertilizer (don’t use water from water softeners or from sloughs, as they can be high in sodium). Continue to water your trees and bushes at least once a week for the first year, and fertilize them with a root growth fertilizer each time you water between the middle of May and the end of June. Try not to fertilize them after the beginning of August, as the resulting new growth will not have time to harden before winter arrives, and may die. Get in touch with your garden centre for advice on which fertilizers are best.

Trees and bushes need about 25mm (or about one inch) of water per foot of growth each week — including rain. Water slowly all around the plant from the centre to the outer circle of the leaves. For evergreen trees, spray the leaves or needles on hot days in the morning and the evening.

Keep watering into early fall to make sure there’s enough moisture at the root zone for the cold winter months. Evergreen trees may require watering in late winter or early spring to keep the root ball frozen, especially in areas where chinooks occur frequently.

If you begin with a good plan and keep up the maintenance, your lawn and yard will stay healthy and beautiful. Enjoy it for the years to come!