We live in a do-it-yourself culture. The upside to that reality is that many of us get tremendous opportunities to try our hands and new skills and to learn interesting things while saving money. The downside is that we sometimes trade expertise and quality for that experience and cost-effectiveness. Landscaping is a perfect example of this. Everyone wants to take care of the job without calling the professionals, but their lack of expertise can create problems.
Professional landscapers know the business inside and out. They understand composition; they know which plants will compliment others. They understand the soil, the elements and what things will actually compliment the design of your home. You might think you have a “great eye” and you may be a quick study. However, the average do-it-yourselfer is not an expert landscaper.
As such, several common mistakes are repeated over and over again across the nation’s lawns. Let’s look at four common landscaping mistakes. By understanding the errors of others, you might be able to avoid doing the same things!
Ruling with a Ruler: Errors of Linearity
Many self-styled landscapers approach their projects as if the world functioned exclusively along the rigid lines of grid. The natural world, however, isn’t flat or square. It’s bumpy and curvy. It undulates and sways. Professionals understand that and they try to work within natural lines and to use the “imperfections” of nature to heighten aesthetic appeal. Amateurs, on the other hand, often have a preoccupation with trying to make everything square and straight. When everything is straightened, it tends to create an uninviting and severe atmosphere. Play with nature as much as you play against it.
Neglecting the Front: Forgetting to Put your Face on
Most of us prefer some degree of privacy. Thus, we tend to spend the bulk of our time in our backyards instead of in front of the house. As a result of that preference, we also tend to have much larger areas with which to work behind our house. Thus, it does make sense that most landscaping work will occur in the back. However, too many amateurs focus on the backyard to the near-exclusion of the front. There is no “harm” in that, per se, but it does represent a wasted opportunity to improve the value and attractiveness of your home. Make sure you plot a course of landscaping success in the front yard, too.
Living in the Moment: Ignoring Future Developments
Those shrubs you plan on planting right under the bay window will look great this year. And the next. After that, though, you had better plan on a weekly trimming. You have three feet of clearance between ground and window, and those cute little shrubs will grow ten feet high if not held in check. You get the idea, right?
That’s just an example of a common problem experienced by do-it-yourself landscapers. They aren’t forward thinking enough and that can cause problems. You need to understand your plants, how they will look now and how they will grow in the future. That kind of knowledge can help you create better look and can save you tons of work in the end.
It’s your Lawn: Neglecting the Rest of the Family
A common amateur error is to design a landscaping plan without taking the usage patterns and desires of other family members into consideration. That wonderful winding path to the garden might cut right across the kids’ favorite place to play ball. That five-foot retaining wall may create an attractive vista, but it may not be attractive to a potential buyer with three small children a few years from now. Consider what others will appreciate and don’t assume your amateur vision is perfect.
You can do your own landscaping. If you work hard enough you may even produce some professional results. Your odds of getting the job done right will improve considerably if you learn to avoid some of the common errors of do-it-yourselfers.
Question: Jimmie, I recently bought a “Coral Bark” Japanese Maple tree. I purchased the tree early last spring and it seemed to be doing fine until the heat of the summer hit. It then spent all summer basically burning up and all the leaves being scorched? What did I do wrong? – Tara C. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Tara, Sounds to me like you have the installed your new tree in the wrong location. Typically, all Japanese Maples are considered to be strictly shade ornamental trees under the canopy of an older established tree. The exception would be on the east side of your house where you’re getting morning sunlight exposure only. Any location on your property where it’s getting full sun and you’re setting yourself up for some much burnt foliage!
Question: Jimmie, quick question for you. I have a large bed of English Ivy that has outlived its usefulness. It is climbing and attaching itself to anything and everything near it. What is the best way to get rid of it?? Thank you so much for your time!! – Susan P. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Susan, at some point you will need to strip it away from walls, tree trunks and other supports. It is really easier to do that when it green and supple than to use a weed killer. Peel it off the vertical surfaces, then use a sharpened hoe at a time when soil is modestly dry to scrape as much of the planting as you can away. Rototill to prep area for your new planting, and rake to remove the rest of the stubble remaining. Broadleaf weed killers will kill the Ivy while it is actively growing in spring or summer but keep in mind there is a risk to harming adjacent plantings in that area. Until next time…Happy Gardening!!
Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or email@example.com. Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.