Stimulate Your Creative Juices!

When you’re looking at your garden/balcony/outdoor space wondering what you should do to make it more beautiful/useful/practical, you can start with asking yourself some basic questions.

So for those who want to make some–or a lot of–changes, here’s a questionnaire to stimulate your creative juices.


This analysis is designed to give an overall concept of your property, family lifestyle, and the design elements that need to be considered for the conceptual landscape plan. Don’t do this fast, think about it for a few days.

  1. List family members and hobbies – interests which might influence property use
  1. Are there any allergies or other medical problems/conditions which should be considered?
  1. Do you have any pets that might require a special area or run?
  1. Do you want or need a fence? Height restrictions?
  1. Do you live in a development with any covenants you should be aware of?
  1. Entryway:

a. Would you like it open, or more enclosed and private?

b. What type of walkway exists? Is it wide enough (welcoming)? Is shape pleasing?

c. Do you see the need for other major walkways or paths?

d. What paving material (stone, brick, gravel, pavers) do you prefer?

7. Driveway – vehicle access:

a. Is it adequate in size for the cars in the family?

b. Is there adequate parking for guests?

8. Utility:

a. Where will you place your garbage cans?

b. Do you need an outdoor storage shed? Woodpile? Compost?

c. Future outbuildings (on rural properties), greenhouse, barn ?

9. Children’s area:

a. Do you want a specific play surface?

b. Do you need room for play equipment?

10. Entertaining – Outdoor living:

a. Do you entertain large crowds? small? informal? formal?

b. Would you like (more) decking or a large patio?

c. Permanent outdoor seating–built-in benches?

d. How much of this area do you want in the shade, sun ?

e. Outdoor cooking area?

f. Swimming pool or hot tub?

g. Special game area or sport court?

h. Outdoor lighting?

11. Edible Gardening: Do you want specific areas for vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit trees?

12. Maintenance: How many hours a week are you willing to work on your property? Will you be hiring out the maintenance chores? Irrigation system?

13. Do you have specific plant preferences and colours? Plants or colours to avoid?

14. Do you want any of the following decorative features / accessories?

bird attractors / water features / large boulders / gazebo / pergola / arbor /garden sculpture / container plants ( pots) / garden furniture/ other?

  1. Circulation: In considering typical outdoor activities of your family, are there areas where you foresee a path, or traffic-tolerant surface needed?
  • SITE– do you have a site map / plot plan? (available from builder or county)
  1. Approx. size of property __________________________( provide specific dimensions of property lines if available)
  1. Site character (wooded, open meadow, steep, urban lot, rural…..)
  1. Problem areas- steep slopes, poor drainage? erosion? shallow soil?
  2. Considering your lifestyle, what feeling or mood do you want to establish? ( natural, formal, oriental, English country……) Does this tie in with architectural style of house?

5. What are the most frequently used rooms of your house? What do you see from those windows?

6. Are there any natural features on the property that you would like to emphasize? or change? boulders, woods, stream, slope/ hillside (site contours), view…

  1. Where is drain field, or septic tank location? Can you locate the lines?
  1. Are there easements or deeded restrictions that you know of?
  2. Are there areas of micro-climates (total shade, protected or enclosed areas…)?
  3. Are there street lights, noises, or views outside the property that cause problems or need screening attention?? Drainage or traffic patterns that influence site?
  4. Do any existing plants, trees or structures need to be removed or relocated?
  • Priorities:

List your five highest priorities.






List your five least-liked aspects of your outdoor space:






Wow! After reading all that, take a breather and don’t look at it again for awhile. But let the ideas generated percolate a bit, and you’ll find yourself designing in your head. You might even start designing on paper.

Would love to hear your comments. Go to Client Site Analysis page for design help.

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