When planning the landscape for your new home, carefully consider what’s important to you, and how you will be using your yard. Is family recreation part of your lifestyle? Do you love to entertain? Would you like to have an area that’s private … your own little outdoor sanctuary where you can relax in solitude? Remember, also, that here in Alberta we have four distinct seasons. Your landscaping should add curb appeal during each one of them.
Before the landscaping begins there are a couple factors that must be addressed before starting the work:
Rough Grade Approval
The home builder is responsible to have this completed, and no landscaping should be attempted until the rough grade has been approved.
Final Grade Approval
Sometimes the home builder will provide this, but most often it is the home owner’s responsibility. Once the final grading has been done, a surveyor must be hired to ensure that the grading complies with the city or county’s specifications. It will be the city or county who will provide the approval for the final grade.
Be aware that it is normal for new homes to settle over time, due to the back fill process that is done once the home’s foundation has been constructed. Although you are likely eager to get started on your landscape, with a new home, you should wait at least a year before doing any major landscape work. You can speed the process somewhat, by soaking the area within a few feet of the foundation on a weekly basis to allow the subsoil to work out the air pockets.
Once the settling is complete and it’s time to begin your landscaping, it’s important to think carefully about the style you would like for your yard, the purpose of individual spaces, the types of materials you would like to use, and what you may be required to do to ensure you’ll have your landscape architectural deposit returned.
It is also important to understand some of the bylaws associated with elements you are thinking of incorporating such as a shed, firepit, pergola, etc.
Be sure to contact Alberta One-Call after the final grade has been approved and before your landscaping is scheduled to begin. They will require at least two full working days prior to the date you plan to disturb the ground. As part of your planning process, you need to know where the buried facilities are (on your property), that are owned by the utilities. For example, if you are planning to build a fence, the presence of buried facilities may dictate where posts cannot be installed, which in turn, may affect the design of the fence, including the location of gates.
Creating a master landscape plan for the property should be your priority before beginning any project involving your landscape. The master plan is more than just a drawing or a design – it is a carefully planned and well thought out step to ensuring that the landscaping works well with all the different elements you would like to eventually see incorporated. Once you have the overall vision, you can go ahead and plan the landscape in stages, being realistic about what you can afford each year.
Most important, though, is for you to enjoy the process and make the space your own.