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Ultimate DIY Landscaping Fundamentals | NM Ready Mix

Your Ultimate DIY Landscaping Fundamentals: From Design Principles, Quality Materials, & More

a homeowner adding a brick pathway to his home DIY landscaping

Does your outdoor living need a little pizzazz? Is the front of your home bland and dull?  Landscaping can be transformative. For many homeowners, however, it’s the initiation of a project that takes the most work. There are too many ideas out there. Too many options. It’s hard to know where to start. 

As New Mexico’s favorite provider of sand and gravel and aggregates, NM Ready Mix works with a lot of novice and veteran DIY landscapers. And having worked with construction and residential properties for generations, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to get started. 

So let’s dig in. 

The Essentials of Landscaping Design 

It all begins with an idea. So keep this in mind, your landscaping should match your personal style and be scaled to your budget. It’s very easy to get carried away with lavish photos on Pinterest and DIY websites when some of those designs were years in the making or required a high budget. So, if you’re on a budget—or want to constrain yourself to a budget— consider that your landscaping will be a labor of love and one that might be a long-term project. 

Step #1: Identify your style. Are you more of a minimalist? Do you like to go big? Are you into ornate gardens or more simple symmetrical designs? Are you into desert shrubs? Do you like bold colors or more neutral colors? What is one feature you think can be the center or contrasting piece of your landscaping? All of these are essential questions when it comes to determining your style. Think about your preferences in interior design and consider that the outside of the house should match or complement the design of your home. 

Step #2: Commit. One of the hardest steps when it comes to revolutionizing your outside spaces is commitment. We all love to wallow in possibilities and spend months ruminating and considering different options. At some point, you have to commit. And that’s when Step #3 comes in. 

Step #3: Set a budget. At least for the foreseeable future. If the project turns into projects (known as the domino effect), you can set a budget for each project as you get to them. If you’re starting on one aspect of the landscaping, set a budget for it and stick to it. 

Then, go for it. 

Design Principles When Considering Your Next DIY Project 

Ok, before you go for it, take a look at some of these fundamental design principles. Every discipline operates with some fundamental rules and basics. As the saying goes, you have to know the rules before you can break them. This rings true in every art form— from music to painting, to interior design. 

So here we go. 


Even the earliest Egyptian gardens show some form of a delicate balance between elements. You don’t want a design that is overbearing or doesn’t provide breathing room. Not only does it obfuscate the beauty of some of the designs, but it also ends up looking messy and neglected. As landscaping expert Joel M. Lerner wrote in the Washington Post, geometric designs in ancient China such as rows of shade trees, hedges, and symmetrical pools always had a sense of balance to them. 

And, according to Lerner, there are three approaches to balance. Rather, three avenues by which you can achieve balance in your design. These are:

  • Symmetry: Consider the central point of reference (or focal point). This might be the door, a backyard fountain, the firepit, etc. So, if you are going for a symmetrical design, you will use this central point or focus point and balance out elements on either side. 
  • Asymmetry:  Then, in contrast to symmetrical design to achieve balance, there is an asymmetrical design. If there is a fire pit at the center of your backyard and you put a sand and gravel design on one side and a concrete path on the other, the different elements on each side will create an asymmetrical balance. 
  • Radial: This type of design consideration applies if you have some kind of odd-shaped focal point or one that is difficult to point to. Let’s say you have a swimming pool in the center of your backyard, there might not be an even split. So you can arrange design elements surrounding this focal point, rather than by splitting it into two sides. 


We know this intuitively to be true. When we have a series or pattern and there is one object that stands out, it catches the eye. It attracts our attention. 

In other words, an element that differs from its surroundings (like a red rose in the midst of a cactus arrangement), will create immediate sharp focus to that area. It will lead people there, and that can be very effective landscaping because here’s something not often discussed: landscaping is also about guiding people and guiding movement through your outdoor spaces. This is why concrete paths or cobblestone paths are so effective. How you arrange your space will guide movement in your outdoor space, lead people to seating areas, play areas, etc.


Similar to contrast, repetition and patterns are something we all intuitively appreciate. It makes a design feel coherent and cohesive, maintains a sense of order and familiarity. Plant groupings and repeated elements create a sense of harmony in your design. In the desert, you can use native plants as the pattern and include common favorites like agave, cactus, and more. 

Quality Landscaping Materials 

While fundamental design principles are just starting points, there is a lot more to consider as you venture out into creating an outside oasis. Part of this is getting quality aggregates or materials to use in your projects. Quality landscaping projects mean you’ll have long-lasting and beautiful results.

Get Quality Materials- Sand, Gravel, Aggregates – and Design Away 

Engaging in landscaping design is a great way to stay active and raise your property value. Not only that, it can make your living space be more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. 

Trust your instincts and unleash the exterior designer in you. And for the quality materials you need, Call New Mexico Ready Mix. Connect with us today and learn more.

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