Landscaping 101: Top Things You Must Avoid

Oftentimes, it is the little things that add up to make or break a landscape design. So, it is important that you avoid making mistakes. The following are top three mistakes every DIY landscaper must not overlook.

Depending on your DIY capabilities too much. You must realistically assess your abilities before undertaking hardscape projects. Discretion is the better part of valor, and sometimes it just makes more sense to hire a pro. For example, patio construction can be daunting for someone who’s not very handy, even if only because of the drainage issues involved. Nor will the average DIYer want to tackle the job of limbing trees of any great size (particularly if they’re overhanging a home). If your whole landscape needs a makeover and you don’t have the skills and/or desire to do the job yourself, maybe you’d like to bring in the big guns? If so, consult my resource on how to find professional help.


Mismanaging your lawn. Having a lot of lawn means having a lot of work. That’s OK if you worship green grass and don’t mind the time-sink. But it’s not for everyone. Unhappily, some homeowners fritter away their free time caring for excess grass for years without realizing that there are alternatives. If you’re more of a gardener than a lawn worshiper, your best bet may be to get rid of the grass (portions of it, at least) and use the freed-up space for shrub beds. There’s still work involved, but if the greater visual interest created by the shrubs pleases you, you may find the work more justifiable.

Mowing strips, meanwhile, make what mowing that you do have to do less of a hassle. They can also eliminate the need to go back in with a string trimmer after mowing to take care of grass the mower blade couldn’t reach — which is extra work for you. Likewise, I find planting circles a hassle to mow around. Instead of dotting your lawn with five or six small islands, consider consolidating, going with a couple of larger beds.

Planting messy trees. Some trees are relatively mess-free. A good example is Sunburst honey locust. Because its leaves are tiny, they aren’t terribly noticeable when they drop. That’s why you’ll often find this “clean” tree used along city streets or in parks. Three of the messiest trees are Ginkgo Biloba, Sweetgum and Pine.

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