Landscape design mistakes can be costly but are avoidable with proper planning. You know undertaking a landscape project can be both exciting and still a little overwhelming. It’s a lot of work but the rewards are worth the effort if your landscape design is well-planned.
Often the vision and anticipation of an attractive landscape will cloud our best judgment in taking the measured steps to get us there. Landscaping is expensive so avoiding some of these typical landscape design mistakes upfront will ensure not only a beautiful yard but get you the maximum value for your dollars spent.
1. Planting without a Plan is a Landscape Design Mistake
Putting plants anywhere without regard to the contours of your property can result in your yard looking random and spotty. Don’t visualize your yard as little segments because this can lead to upsetting any sense of visual flow. Remember that once you landscape your yard having to go back and change it costs more money. Putting some thought into a design will pay you dividends for years to come.
2. Not Having Proper Irrigation
Depending on where you live, you may need to set up a specific type of irrigation system in your yard, especially if you have a large number of plants. If you live in an area without four distinct seasons, such as Florida, you will have different watering requirements than other areas of the country.
Some areas will require more watering based on regional soil type while others may only need drip lines to nourish plants in lieu of sprinklers. Designing for proper watering based on your soil conditions is essential to healthy plant growth, doing anything less or not planning for it at all is a landscape design mistake.
3. Planting Too Much May Be a Landscape Design Mistake
A common mistake made by new landscapers is planting too many plants in their yard or garden. Often new landscapers do not take into consideration how large a single plant will grow or what the optimal spacing is between plants to allow their root bases to develop. Your level of tolerance for yard maintenance should also be considered. Sometimes less IS more.
4. Keep it Simple
When planning your landscape try to make it as uncomplicated as possible. Mix too many different plants or colors together, unless you’re shooting for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, can be a landscape design mistake.
If you’re undertaking a landscape design project yourself as opposed to hiring a landscape architect or designer, keeping it simple will minimize any frustration, keep your costs down and make maintenance manageable.
5. Reconsider Straight Line Thinking
When the lines of the driveway, the street and your home’s foundation are straight, many new landscapers will run soldier-straight rows of plants or shrubs along these straight lines. While not necessarily a landscape design mistake, consider adding a meandering curve to the landscaping around the front of your house or curve the beds or plants running along your driveway or the edge of the street. Remember to add “flow” for a natural feel because we know nature has no straight lines.
6. Disproportional Sizing
It’s essential to know how wide a plant, shrub or tree is going to get at maturity. Picking trees, shrubs, and perennials that won’t grow too tight for their location will keep your landscape from looking great at the start and then too dense and overcrowded several years down the road. Also many homeowners turn to tall plants to cover an expanse of wall where there are no windows. This creates an up and down zigzag look that can appear awkward. It’s not necessary to fill every empty wall with plants, shrubs or trees. Going for a natural asymmetrical flow usually results in a better look.
7. Not Creating Balance and Interest
Most people take this too literally. Both corners of the home don’t need to be the same plant at the same height, but it is a good idea for them to both have the same visual impact and interest. Try not to make your yard look too sterile or overly matching. Going for a natural asymmetrical flow usually results in a better look and then accessorize your yard to add interest. Consider adding container gardens, a colored mulch or a birdbath to attract wild birds to your landscape.
8. Shortcuts Will Cost You
For as much as we dislike the media, they still have us. We are continually bombarded on television, in magazines, newspapers and online with products and procedures to convince us landscaping is easy. We’re led to believe that gardening takes little time and we that we don’t need to deal with all those “minor” details. Unless you’re spending the money to hire a professional landscaper you are at risk for disaster if you don’t consider soil conditions, winter care, pruning, watering, planting procedures, plant spread and pest control in your design.
9. Your Winter Landscape
Not everybody lives in sunny California, Arizona or Nevada and it’s a landscape design mistake to forget to consider a winter landscape as part of their overall design. Using a proportional percentage of trees and shrubs…even stone, will add color, texture, and form to your yard’s winter landscape. Remember that evergreen foliage not only includes many shades of green, but also blues, grayish-blues, silvers, and yellows which provide an attractive boost to your yard in the colder months.
10. Not Pleasing Yourself
This is your yard and you’ll be living with it for a while. Don’t settle for the stereotypical landscape design. Your yard should be an extension of you and your personality. Add a personal touch to your design and have fun with. Plan that Koi pond or gazebo – plant that ornamental tree you’ve always wanted – even flowers in the favorite colors you’ve always loved. There are thousands of plant species to choose from to express your style but are also adapted to your specific site conditions so they thrive. Chances are if you love your yard so will all your friends, family and neighbors. The care you put into your yard will be displayed in the health and beauty that your yard showcases for many years of enjoyment.
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