Avoid common landscaping disasters and learn how to fix them.
Mistake: Neglecting Curb Appeal
Never underestimate the power of curb appeal. A lot of homeowners put all of their energy into the backyard, but the front of the house is where first impressions are made.
Solution: Keep Three Things in Mind
There are three simple improvements you can make that make a big difference out front. Paint your door a contrasting color than what is at the base of your home, keep the grass trim and green and plant colorful flowers. See more amazing curb appeal makeovers.
Mistake: Excessive Lawn Ornamentation
People often make the mistake of putting too many decorative items in their front yard, which can be a distraction from the beauty of the natural landscape.
Solution: Be Selective
Before setting out that lawn ornament, ask yourself why are you putting it there and how it fits the context of your overall design and plant materials. Stick with one crisp choice, even if it is a little silly. One little whimsical statement goes a lot further than 10.
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Mistake: Forgetting to Recycle
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Solution: Compost It
Instead of tossing out the branches, clippings and other debris, dispose of them in an eco-friendly way. Rent a shredder and turn them into mulch, and put lawn clippings back on the lawn — they are both great fertilizers. Another idea is to create a compost pile. Compost containers have gotten more attractive. Some almost disappear into the landscape.
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Mistake: Planting in the Wrong Place
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Solution: Read the Plant Tag
Mistake: Planting Too Deeply
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Solution: Match the Depth
Avoid these scenarios by looking at the main stem, where the largest branch is and then where all of the tentacles come out. That's the root ball, and that's what you want to meet, right along the surface. A good rule of thumb with plants is to dig to the actual height of the container in which it came.
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Mistake: Cutting Grass Too Short
It's a common myth that cutting the grass shorter means you have to mow it less. That's actually not the case, and you can do more harm than good. If you scalp the lawn, it could result in a bare patch, which could make it too inviting for insects and/or susceptible to disease.
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Solution: Switch It Up
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Mistake: Forgetting the View From Your Window
It may seem like common sense to think about the view from inside the house, but a lot of people forget it. Keep in mind what it looks like from all angles.
Photo Credit: COLES HAIRSTON
Solution: Enhance Your View
Place your containers where you want them, and then go inside and look through every major window to see what they'll look like before you plant. It should be like a painting. When you look out, you should see the glass framed with beautiful trees and foliage.
Mistake: Using the Wrong-Size Pots
If you put a plant in a pot that is too large, it can shift, sink down into the soil, get too much water or dry out too fast. Small pots will quickly become rootbound.
Solution: Start Small
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Mistake: Failing to Fertilize Properly
There are two ways that fertilizing can be a mistake. The first one is not doing it at all. The other is fertilizing too much or fertilizing improperly.
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Solution: Fertilize With Caution
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Mistake: Picking the Wrong Plants
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Solution: Know Your Yard
Check for plants that would work well in your space. If it's a really hot, sunny spot, maybe you want to go with a succulent. Or, get a great landscaping book for your area to help you figure out what to plant and when, as well as how and when to fertilize.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Anthony Tesselaar Plants
Mistake: Not Accounting for Wildlife
You could be planting a buffet rather than a garden if you don't consider what animals or garden pests might be around.
Solution: Plant Things Critters Hate
Before you decide what to plant in your garden, think about what pests you have in relation to what you'd like to plant. For example, pretty flowering plants can attract deer, so you might want to throw in some bitter-tasting ones among them. Once they taste the wrong one, they are likely to stop coming around. If there are wild rabbits around, you may need to shelter your garden bed by building a small fence. Chicken wire is another option.
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Mistake: Being Shortsighted
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Solution: Do Your Research
Read the plant tags, ask an expert at the garden center or look up information online to find out how big and how fast a certain plant will grow.
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Mistakes: Improper Pruning
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Solution: Prune With Caution
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Mistake: Scattered Color
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Solution: Create a Palette
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Mistake: Irrational Irrigation
A lot of homeowners make the mistake of over-watering. Most lawns just need about an inch of a water per week.
Photo Credit: Steve Simzer
Solution: Timely Watering
The best time of day to water the lawn (and usually any plant) is early morning so it has all day to dry. You can buy a sprinkler with an automatic timer to reduce water waste, or even put in an irrigation system.
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Mistake: Using the Wrong Tool
Using the wrong tool for the job could be inefficient and maybe even dangerous.
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Solution: Get to Know Your Garden Tools
Think about the size of the job and dictate the size of the tool accordingly. Some must-haves are safety goggles, gloves, a solid shovel and a good rake. Keep them organized, and keep them clean. For specialty jobs, you might want to consider renting a tool, and not just power equipment, but hand tools. Maybe you don't need that tool for the rest of your life, but you need it for that one specific job.
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Mistake: Failing to Be Family Friendly
Solution: Think About Functionality
Sit down and make a list of what you want to do in your yard, making sure to look at the needs of everyone in the household.
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Mistake: Impulse Buying
Buying plants without a plan.
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Solution: Make a Shopping List
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Mistake: Too Much of the Same Thing
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Solution: Mix It Up
Intermingle various shapes and sizes of plants to create visual interest and bring in the right kind of insects. Certain plants need certain nutrients. If you plant just one type of plant, they could suck all of those nutrients out of the soil.
Photo Credit: Photo by Jane Coclasure courtesy of P. Allen Smith.
Mistake: Not Having a Plan
Starting a landscaping project without a plan.
Photo Credit: Landscape plan by Leah Gardner/Illustrations by Simutis Illustrations
Solution: Sketch It
Decide on a specific theme or look and then draw it out on paper. Figure out where you want to put your plants and shrubs in relation to the shape and style of your house. Examine ways to bring the inside out so that when you are finished, you have a nice, harmonious design. Don't forget to factor in your budget, and when you hit the nursery, stick to it. If you follow the plan, you (and your landscape) will reap the rewards.
Mistake: Overlooking Maintenance
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Solution: Make a Schedule
Part of planning a garden is also planning time to maintain it. Make up a maintenance schedule and abide by it. Garden beds need to be weeded at least once or twice a month, minimum. If you don't have the time to take care of your garden, make sure you have enough money to pay somebody to do it.
Mistake: Ignoring the Seasons
Not planning a garden for year-round color or interest.
Photo Credit: Endless Summer Hydrangeas
Solution: Create Year-Round Color
Plan out your garden with regard to the seasons. When homeowners go to a nursery or plant yard, they often just buy what's in season at the time. Various flowers bloom at certain times of the year. If you've got a lot of plants that are blooming in the spring, remember that in the fall you're going to need some other plants, if you want foliage. Select plants that look good in the winter and in the spring, if possible.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau
Mistake: Underestimating Budget
There is a lot of sticker shock in the world of plants. People often think "it's just a couple of plants, how expensive could it be?" Landscaping is actually 30 percent more expensive than any other type of home improvement project. Another area that gets underestimated is the budget, and one of the biggest factors in a budget is the labor involved. It always costs more, and people cost the most.
Photo Credit: Mick Telkamp
Solution: Create a Cushion
When you're starting a landscape project, make sure you have enough budget, because you want to do the job one time, and you want to do it right.
Mistake: Overlooking Exterior Lighting
The biggest mistake people make when they think about planning out their yard is only visualizing how it will look during the day.
Photo Credit: Sam Henderson
Solution: Make an Outdoor Lighting Plan
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Mistake: Mismatched Style
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Solution: Think About Architecture
When selecting plants, you should match the architecture of your home with the theme of your garden. Above, the cottage-style garden goes very well with the style of the home. Besides the plants in your garden, you need to think about your hardscape. If you are putting in a deck, for example, you need to make sure those elements of your garden also reflect positively upon your house.
14 Secret Landscaper Tips and Tricks
These tools and techniques are used by professional landscapers to make quick work of yard and garden tasks. Steal their ideas and make more efficient use of your gardening time and money.
Get a Tarp
Use Weed Fabric Strategically
Create an Edge
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Use Starter Fertilizer
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Choose Wisely Between Bulk and Bagged
Only buy good quality tools. The best quality may be a bit too costly, and an unnecessary expense for weekend DIYers. Cheap tools are likely to break in the middle of the first job. Save money and time by buying good quality at value prices.
Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Farmer D Organics
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Make Mowing Fast and Easy
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Keep the Leaves
Recycle the Grass Clippings
Test Your Soil
Get your lawn and garden soil tested by your state’s University Extension Service. Guessing on fertility requirements can lead to costly mistakes. Soil test results will show the current conditions and what needs to be applied for your type of lawn, flower garden, vegetable crops, etc.
Work From a Plan
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Buy Enough the First Time
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Buy Enough Plants
Curb Appeal Tips
You can't judge a house by its landscaping, but curb appeal is all about first impressions. Use these tips to look at your yard objectively and make it as visually appealing as possible.
Lead to the Door
Mix It Up
Create a Focal Point
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Roll Out the Welcome Mat
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