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In a report to President Ulysses S. Grant more than 100 years ago, Horace Capron, the U.S. agriculture commissioner, wrote: Landscape gardening is a comprehensive art, combining the genius of the landscape painter with the art of practical gardener; the exact knowledge of the engineer with the poetical imagination of the artist. The professor of this art should also possess a competent knowledge of the general principles of botany, architecture, geology, hydraulics, hydrostatics, mechanics, laws of heat and ventilation, pomology and vegetable physiology.'' Combining the skills of painters, architects, artists and horticulturists seems like an impossible task. These and many other areas of expertise help in establishing the landscape garden. As difficult as this task may seem, successful landscapes are largely a matter of creating and following a simple design and planting the right amount in the right place. Landscaping adds usable living area, increases property values and beautifies the home and other structures. A well-designed landscape creates an aesthetic environment that is well worth the time, money and effort invested. Landscape design is not just planting plants. Pleasing landscapes follow the same principles that you would use in designing the interior of your home. Designed landscapes can refresh, relax, comfort and uplift. Surveys show that a well-designed landscape will raise the property value 10 percent to 30 percent. Such landscapes appreciate in value over a lifetime, adding significantly to the beauty, comfort and financial desirability of the property. Before consulting a landscape contractor, landscape architect, landscape designer or local garden center, determine how much you want - and can afford - to invest in your property. Common methods include a percentage cost of the project or give a dollar figure. According to Money Magazine, not all improvements will increase the value of a home by the amount that they cost to install. According to Money's research, however, landscaping has a recovery value of at least 100 percent and up to 200 percentif it is well done and harmonizes with foliage nearby.'' This compares with a recovery value of a kitchen overhaul at 75 percent to 135 percent, and a bathroom renovation at 80 percent to 120 percent. Plants are great problem-solvers for blending architectural features and natural features. A personal landscape makes a creative statement that reflects your likes and dislikes. No two individuals are alike, and no two landscapes should be exactly alike. Plant materials and related structures can add living beauty to your home. The goal of most homeowners is to create a landscape that is uniquely theirs. Careful planning, design, installation and care are keys to an attractive, functional and enjoyable landscape. Failure to plant and care for the landscape leads to frustration, monetary loss and poorly maintained plantings. Landscape design creates functional landscapes for the lifestyle of the user. All the materials - both plants and non-plants - are blended and balanced to provide an attractive setting. Renovation should only be done to increase the functional uses and beauty of the landscape. Landscaping is a great investment because it enhances the property value of your home should you decide to sell it. Beautiful landscapes offer a positive first impression to promote a faster sell. As you budget for landscaping, make yearly adjustments depending on the overall complexity of the job, your ability to phase the installations of larger projects. Remember your changing planning and maintenance needs over the years and your desire to remodel some parts of the landscape. When hiring any landscape expert, remember to look for quality, value, expertise and service - not just low cost. I will be starting three new Landscape classes this week. Basic Landscape Design covers how to make a basic landscape plan for a new home or for a remodeling project. After you create your basic plan, Master Gardeners from Utah State University will help review your plans and make suggestions for improvement. Advanced Landscape design is for those who have done the basic course and want to do more. This course focuses on using plants to solve problems and on hardescapes such as arbors, walkways, ponds and other features. The other is Waterwise Landscape course with Adrian Hinton, USU horticulturist in Utah County. All class participants in this class receive a free water check to help them fine tune their sprinklers and schedule their irrigation. Call (801) 768-7443 to register for either class. For those outside Utah County, call toll free at 1-888-672-6040.

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