For many, landscape design looks easy, until they actually try it.
Why won’t the hydrangeas bloom? What keeps getting in the flower beds? Why doesn’t this look like it did on Pinterest? Landscape design is both an art and a science. A good landscape designer is educated and trained to know how all of the elements of a landscape work together… as well as which elements won’t play nice together.
The Usual Suspects
When it comes to amateur landscaping mistakes, there are 10 that come up regularly. In this post, we are going to share the 10 most common landscaping mistakes and give pointers on how to avoid them.
1. Wide Open Spaces
Having a yard for the kids to play in is great. When you have a HUGE empty lawn, it’s not really good for much except killing a few hours on your riding mower every Saturday. Maybe that’s your endgame. If so, then please ignore the rest of this point.
An ideal way to make a wide open lawn more interesting is by dividing the space up into smaller, more enjoyable spaces. Grill some steaks on the patio, then enjoy an evening walk through your wildflower garden. Maybe have guests over for some cornhole by the pond.
2. Form and Function
You absolutely want your landscaping to look Instagram-worthy, but don’t lose sight that you and your family will actually be using your yard. To avoid the problem of losing function, ask yourself some basic behavioral questions before your start a landscaping project.
Are you leaving space for the kids to play? Are you planting flowers where the dog normally does her business? Your landscaping should be a matter of both form and function, otherwise you wind up with a yard that is just nice to look at, but not good for much else.
3. Poor Lighting
Sure, you may spend the majority of your time in the yard during the daylight hours, but good lighting can open up the evening hours, too, which is especially nice for those long summer nights.
When the days are longer and the warm summer air carries well into the evening, it’s the perfect time to entertain guests or simply enjoy that time outside. When you are in your yard, you want to be able to see the fruits of your landscaping labor. You also want to make sure that you aren’t tripping on anything because you can’t see it. Driveways, porches, paths, and walkways should be the first on the list for lighting, as those tend to be the places that get the most foot traffic.
Beyond that, consider lighting for those areas of your yard that you find particularly lovely, such as: certain flower beds, a water feature, a stone retaining wall, or a bocce court.
4. Winging It
Landscaping isn’t something you knock out in an afternoon with the change that is in your pocket. It’s an investment of both your time and money. Would you build a house without blueprints? Of course not. The same holds true for your landscaping. If you don’t have a plan for your landscaping before you start, you will usually end up with landscaping that lacks cohesion and order.
You can surely find more entertaining things to do with your time and money than throw it away on a landscaping disaster.
5. Using All of the Plants
Let’s be clear—we love plants. It’s one of our favorite parts of landscaping. When you are picking out plants, however, it can be too easy to just get a myriad of different plants that you like with zero regard of how they will look together or whether they will actually thrive in your yard. The end result usually looks like a rainbow got sick in your yard. When picking plants, focus on unity, repetition, and complementary colors / sizes. Trust us; when everything is in place, you’ll be glad you did.
6. Hardscaping Holds It Together
Because plants and flowers are so attractive, people tend to focus on that first when envisioning new landscaping. Hardscape elements, such as patios, retaining walls, paths, and the like really hold your landscaping together.
Think of hardscaping as the framework of your landscaping. The way it ties the rest of the landscaping together can be beautiful and functional.
7. It Matters Where You Plant
This is a landscaping mistake we see time and time again. You find the perfect plant, shrub, or tree and you know just where you want to put it. Only, you haven’t taken the needs of the plant into consideration.
Putting shade-loving plants in a place where they will get sunshine all day is a great way to kill those plants.
Planting some eight-foot trees along the side of the pool, deck, or house might be great for privacy now, but when those trees mature and start reaching 50 feet, you’ll have all kinds of problems with regards to plumbing and other structural elements.
Some thorny shrubs are beautiful. Putting them around your central air unit can lead to lots of scratches as you are covering the unit for winter and uncovering it for summer. Not to mention the look you’ll get from the repair person if you ever need it serviced.
A professional landscape designer knows just how certain plants grow and can help you find the right plants for the right places in your landscaping.
When it comes to choosing plants, think beyond just summer. Yes, pink roses look amazing in the sunlight. The yellow of daylilies practically glows. Russian sage offers a shade of purple that is all its own. If these are the only types of flowers you are planting, your landscaping will be virtually barren outside of summer. When it comes to plants and shrubs, you’ll want to pick those that bloom at different times of the year so that your landscaping looks vibrant all year round! Spring lilacs and autumnal mums are just two options to consider for pre- and post-summer enjoyment.
9. Irrigation is Essential
When you have your plants in the ground, you’ll want to be sure to have a plan to meet their watering needs.
Watering with sprinklers and hoses is one option, but if you have a large yard, that can be a very time-consuming affair. A better option would be a professionally-installed irrigation system that goes in place before your plants go in, so the watering needs of specific areas can be addressed first.
10. Set It and Forget It
Once your landscaping is in place, that’s just the start. Plants, shrubs, trees, and water features alike all need regular attention to remain looking great. From pruning, to weeding, to watering, to relocating some plants, your landscaping is an interactive practice.
If you don’t feel like you’ll have the time to keep up with it, be honest from the start. That way, you can work in plants that require less attention. Finally, if it is in your budget, there are professional landscape maintenance options available.
When you flip through Better Homes and Gardens and see a finished landscaping project, it’s only natural to try to make one for yourself. What you don’t see, however, is the planning that goes into making the landscaping look that good. As a result, it is all too easy to make common landscaping mistakes that can cost you both time and money.
To get the most out of your landscaping, E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply offers professional landscaping services in the Jackson, MI area. Feel free to contact us online or call us today at (517) 990-0110.