Well, weíve finally made it to mid-winter. Ski trips are history and the holiday season is a distant memory. But blue sky days will soon outnumber wet, gloomy ones and, yay, spring is right around the corner.

If youíve been totally uninspired to do anything outside, I do understand. Itís really not a bad time to plant, but thereís not much about winter that inspires you. But now, even though thereís more winter a-coming, the traditional beginning of the landscape process is here. Yep, itís time to get started so that when spring does arrive, your landscaping is installed and your plantings are ready to take advantage of the excellent growth that only spring brings.

First step is planning. Give it some serious thought. Your yard can be a fantastic addition to your everyday life.

Whatís that? You donít like to work in the yard? Maybe not, but how would you like an outdoor kitchen? They come in all shapes and sizes ranging from that early marriage grill that you used to cook the very best ribs on, to one with roof, advanced cooking facilities and maybe a TV. Or maybe a perfectly designed deck or patio and a Green Egg is right. Itís up to you and your situation. Or it might be functional stuff youíve been thinking about. A pretty circular drive not only gets guests and Aunt Suzy to your front door, but totally changes the look of your house. Do it right and itís a better investment than that last hot stock you bought.

Next time you come home from work or carpool, look at your home with a critical eye. Does it look great? If it doesnít, it could. Good front landscaping not only adds value to your home, but it makes you smile with its open arms greeting.

So get yourself going. Make lists of things youíd like to have, like maybe creative screening for backyard privacy, or possibly a play facility for the chilluns. They can be pretty cool looking these days, and why not supervise the young-uns from a pretty bench under a backyard shade tree. Tie all that to your new patio area or deck with a sweetly curving casual walk thru beds of azaleas and a simple function becomes a splendid backyard experience. The potentialís endless and the results can be truly amazing.

All this sound difficult? Not really. But if you do need a little help, give me a ring. Iíd love to work with you.

Carter Brown is a landscape architect with Garden Works. His work can be seen in books, magazines and in your neighborhood.

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