Not only can landscaping beautify your yard and increase the value of your property, but proper environmental design can also prevent crime. The basic elements of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) are natural surveillance, territorial reinforcement, natural access control, maintenance and avoiding entrapment areas.

To learn more about these features, click on the following link:

The above handout pertains to commercial properties and is not required for residential properties. But the basic ideas are good to implement at the residential level, too, if you can.

Here are some ideas to incorporate in your landscaping project.

Passive solar design

Try incorporating passive solar design in your landscaping design. Passive solar landscaping uses windbreaks and shade.

  • Use dense windbreaks to protect the home from cold winter winds. Evergreens are good windbreaks as they have year round foliage and can block wind high or low. These should be placed on the north side of the home to block those chilly north winds in the winter.
  • Allow the winter sun to reach south-facing windows.
  • Shade south and west windows and walls from the direct summer sun, if summer overheating is a problem. Deciduous trees are best as they will block hot summer sun but let in winter sun to naturally warm your house.

Driveway and walkway

If you're looking to boost your home's curb appeal, look no farther than your driveway and walkways. These are major surfaces that can make or break the exterior design of your home. Here's how to add some pizzazz to your driveway and walkway.

The first consideration is the type of building material. Driveways typically are made of asphalt  or concrete, which is the least expensive hard surface material. If you have a little extra money to spend, a brick driveway can add a spectacular look to any home. A less costly option is to use asphalt and line or apron-in the border with brick..

A permit is required before you install, replace or overlay a residential driveway. Visit our Building and Inspection Division's Information sheets and handouts page to learn more. If you are not looking to replace your driveway there are a few simple things you can do to dress it up. You could reseal your asphalt driveway; if you have a concrete driveway, removing those pesky weeds in the cracks would improve its overall appearance. Creating end-of-the-driveway planters is another way to spruce up the driveway. Perennials like hostas or daylilies are easy plants to grow.

What about the walkway?

The walkway material should blend with the driveway and the exterior materials on the house. They can be made from different materials, so long as the colors, textures or tones all blend together. This means that the brick on the driveway can be a few shades lighter than the brick or siding on the house, but it should be in the same color family. The walkway could be made of a complementary brick or concrete with a brick border.

It’s all about curves. Curves make your walkway interesting and lead your eyes through the yard to your entrance. When paired with curved flower beds or groups of shrubs, the curved walkways seem to flow with the landscape. This creates a more natural setting than the hard edges of a rectangular walkway.

Deck or patio

A deck or patio can increase the aesthetics of your backyard. A deck or patio is a great outdoor congregation space for relaxing or entertaining. If you are going to build one, a permit is required.

There are many types and you should investigate which one suits your home the best.

  • Pressure treated wood is still inexpensive and widely available. Some wood in the past contained arsenic, but that has been discontinued by the EPA. Wood decks can last up to 30 years, but they need to be power washed and sealed annually.
  • Wood composite is made from plastic resin mixed with sawdust. It comes in wood-like planks in various colors. You can cut it like wood, but it won't rot, shrink, warp, or splinter. Wood composite decks contain no toxic chemicals or preservatives; therefore they are considered to be environmentally friendly. They can be cleaned with a power washer and don't need sealing..
  • Plastic lumber–Today's plastic lumber can look and feel just like real wood, but it won't absorb water or mold, twist, or splinter. It can be cut with woodworking tools and only needs periodic cleaning with water. It does need to be supported by real wood supports. A plastic deck should last 50 years. Eco-friendly versions can be made of 90% recycled plastics and are 100% recyclable.
  • Concrete– You don't have to have a great off-white slab of concrete. Today, concrete can come in a wide variety of colors and textures. Some can even save you the cost of stone pavers while mimicking their look.
  • Interlocking pavers are popular in patios. Pavers can come in a variety of colors or shapes and can look like stone. They are easy to install, inexpensive, and unlikely to mildew.

Trees and other vegetation

The addition of trees, shrubs and flowers can add a pleasant look to your yard. When using all three, there should be an overall design that can blend trees, shrubs and flowers best attributes.

  • Flowers – This is the easiest thing, you as a homeowner can do, to spruce up your yard. Flowers and small plants are relatively easy to grow, they’re somewhat inexpensive, and they mature quickly. Planted around the house and/or trees or planted as a border for driveways and sidewalks, flowers can significantly beautify your existing landscape. If you are a beginner gardener, research plants that are easy to care for. Keep in mind that annuals are only good for one season, whereas perennials will come back year after year, with little or no effort on your part. Biennials bloom for two seasons in a row.
  • Shrubs and bushes – Shrubs and bushes are especially good plants to include in Minnesota because they can be used as a snow buffer. They can block snow from sidewalks, driveways or your house. Other uses for shrubs and bushes is outlining boundaries, privacy and screening, foundation planting, aroma and simply for look.
  • Trees – Trees are great for protection against the elements, privacy, and the aesthetics of your yard. There are many different types of trees to use in your yard. There are deciduous, accent, ornamental and conifer trees. To choose which ones, you should research their maintenance, growing attributes and look. Remember: Transplanting and planting trees should be done in either spring or fall and never during the summer (too hot!).


Xeriscaping, also known as smartscaping or drought-tolerant-scaping, is a systematic method of promoting water conservation in landscaped areas. It refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation.

There are seven principles to xeriscaping:

  1. Planning and design – Provides direction and guidance and includes mapping your water and energy conservation strategies, both of which will be dependent upon your regional climate and microclimate.
  2. Selecting and zoning plants appropriately – Bases your plant selections and locations on those that will flourish in your regional climate and microclimate.
  3. Limiting turf areas – Reduces the use of bluegrass turf, which usually requires a lot of supplemental watering.
  4. Improving the soil – Enables soil to better absorb water and to encourage deeper roots.
  5. Irrigating efficiently – Encourages using the irrigation method that waters plants in each area most efficiently.
  6. Using mulches – Keeps plant roots cool, minimizes evaporation, prevents soil from crusting, and reduces weed growth.
  7. Maintaining the landscape – Keeps plants healthy through weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and controlling pests.