Makeover Step 3- The Features List

Now that you’ve created a detailed goal statement and defined your style, you can finally start filling your design with the features that will make your yard amazing.  You have put in a lot of work up to this point, so remember to stick to your goal statement.  Creating your feature list will require you to adhere strictly to it!  This step will not be a free-for-all to add everything you’ve ever seen at Home Depot into your design!


Your feature list should answer the question: “How will my transformed property attain my goal?”  Remember to think in terms of how you want to improve the way you live in your home and yard.

We have all seen features in other yards that we envy or think we want, but be careful to only include features that serve your goal.  This is how good design happens.  Everything serves the goal.

Think about your goal and the style you’ve decided to set.  What features will help you attain your goal?  Simply start listing them as they come to mind.  Don’t worry about budget at this point.  Let’s start by dreaming big and we’ll modify the plan later if necessary.

We will not count walkways and access points (like doors, gates and steps) as features (at least not yet).  We’ll include them after you’ve created your basic layout.

Here is a list of possible features for your new landscape:

  • Flower Garden
  • Patio
  • Outdoor dining area
  • Pool
  • Hot tub
  • Pool house
  • Outdoor kitchen
  • Outdoor bar
  • Lounging/relaxing area
  • Deck
  • Stone wall(s)
  • Comfortable furniture
  • Sculpture(s)
  • Garden Shed
  • Open lawn
  • Children’s playset
  • Water feature/pond
  • Gazebo
  • Pergola
  • Vegetable garden
  • Fence
  • Privacy Hedge

This is just a short list. There’s really no limit to the features you can create.  Just remember to keep them in line with your goal and mood.

Here are some examples of goals and feature lists:

GOAL: “De-stress my life by creating a relaxing retreat on my property”

STYLE:  relaxing, tranquil, peaceful, beautiful, easy, private


  • Flower Garden (low-maintenance)
  • Patio for sunbathing
  • Furniture to relax in
  • A hot tub
  • Privacy hedge or fence

GOAL:  “Make my yard the place where my kids’ friends gather, so I don’t have to drive them everywhere”

STYLE:  Fun, social, big, accessible, indestructible, safe


  • Outdoor dining area with barbeque
  • Pool
  • Large patio for parties
  • Fire pit
  • Open lawn area for games and running around

GOAL:  “Entertain more by creating a place to entertain in my yard”

STYLE:  fun, social, friendly, open


  • Outdoor dining area for 12-16 people
  • Patio for large gatherings
  • Lots of places to sit
  • Beautiful garden surrounding

Take some time to make sure you include everything you’ll need to make your yard work.  Don’t forget obvious things like the lawn.  Do you need a large open lawn area?  Privacy is another important consideration.  If you need privacy, be sure to include a hedge, fence or some other type of screening in your feature list.

A word about gardens…….

Most yard makeovers will include some kind of garden or planting designed to add beauty to the landscape.  If you’re designing for aesthetic beauty, you must understand how your design will be appreciated.    Most families are very busy these days.  Few of us have time to actually sit down and relax long enough to appreciate a beautiful garden, even if it’s in our own back yard.  Be honest with yourself when designing.  Think about where and how you will appreciate your plantings and design them accordingly.  In my house, I’ve planted a beautiful garden in the back of the house.  This entire garden in designed to be appreciated from my kitchen inside my house.  I know that my lifestyle doesn’t afford me lots of time to sit in my back yard, so I designed my garden to be appreciated from my kitchen where I do most of my work.

Your design should reflect your lifestyle and compliment it.  Don’t make the common mistake of designing a landscape that takes exceptional effort to appreciate.  Design your landscape around your life, so it can be appreciated without going out of your way.

A beautiful landscape has the power to reduce stress, so think about where you are when you’re most stressed.  Is it when you arrive home from a long day’s work?  Maybe when you’re stuck in the house doing chores?  Design your landscape so that it’s available to you in times of stress.  Maybe your garden needs to be visible from the laundry room window or maybe it needs to line the walkway on your way to work.  At all costs, don’t fall into the trap of designing a landscape that you need to make time to appreciate.  Your landscape should accommodate you!

Make sure you have your feature list completed before moving on.  Write it down along with your goal and mood descriptions and keep them all handy!

Next: Start laying out your design in LAY IT OUT