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How to Grow a Lawn

Make a Lawn Plan

A lawn plan, which can be a simple assessment of your landscape needs, is your first step in planning your property. Make a list of the features you want to incorporate into your design for growing a lawn. Then you can begin to find the room for it all and start putting the elements in place.

Get inspiration from public gardens.
Get inspiration from public gardens.
  • Draw a map of your property and decide where the new beds and plantings will go before you start buying and planting. The map needs to be to scale -- an exact replica of your property in miniature. Many landscape designers use a scale in which 1/4-inch on the plan equals one foot in your yard. This scale usually provides enough room to show considerable detail but is likely to require the use of oversized paper so everything will fit on one sheet for a complete landscape design picture.
  • Measure the yard using a measuring tape (50-foot lengths work well), and sketch the perimeter on graph paper. Draw in existing trees, shrubs, fences, and other features you intend to keep, using an overhead view. Make some copies so you can experiment with designs.
  • Then pencil in possible bed outlines and imagine how they will look. Once you've decided on the location of the beds, pencil in the plants you want to add (at the proper spacing) and get an accurate count of how many plants you'll need before you start shelling out any money.
  • Plan the shape of the lawn, which is usually the biggest feature in a yard. The lawn's shape is more important than the shape of the beds. If it's designed with straight or gradually curving lines, the lawn can make a pretty picture and remain easy to mow. Avoid sharp turns, wiggly edges, and jagged corners, which are irritating to the eye and extra work to mow.
  • Take photos and photocopy them. You can shoot the entire front yard or backyard, the plantings around the house's foundation, or individual gardens. Enlarge them on a color copier, if one is available. Then you can sketch in prospective new plants and get an landscape design ideas of how they will look. Winter is a great time to do this. Although the yard may be dormant, you won't forget how it usually looks.
  • Borrow ideas from neighbors' gardens. There is no better way to learn what grows well in your area. You can also get great garden landscape design ideas from other people. Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • Visit public gardens and nurseries with display beds for inspiration. These professionally designed gardens may have the newest plants and creative ideas for combining them. Look for gardens about the same size as your yard so you can apply what you learn directly.

Lawn Traffic Flow Design

The purpose of paths, walks, and driveways is to direct and safely move traffic from place to place. The heavier the traffic, the sturdier, wider, and more permanent the path should be. Make entrance walks comfortable enough for at least two people to walk abreast (a minimum of four feet, five is better). Service and rear-entry paths should be three to four feet wide. Garden paths should be designed so visitors feel comfortable on a stroll through the garden. Stepping-stone or mulch-covered paths allow easy access to corners of the garden during maintenance. All paths should be flush with the ground for safety. Make sure steps and grade changes are stable, safe, and well-lighted.

In the next section, you'll learn about the importance of movement in your landscape garden.

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