Gardening can be relaxing… until it goes horribly wrong. Know your landscaping dos and don’ts for an attractive and easy to maintain your yard and garden.
Your yard provides recreation and refuge. It also presents your house to the street and neighbors. Landscaping tastes vary, from formal to freeform, but every gardener should observe sometop landscaping dos and don’ts.
Create a plan
Make a plan and pick a style. Just buying a bunch of plants and scrubs and scattering them around won’t give you the effect you want, even if you want a looser-looking garden. Plants grow at different rates and to different sizes, and some prefer different amounts of sunlight. Without a plan, you’re sure to spend the next several years digging up and relocating plants, some of which may not survive the transplant shock.
Complete your hardscaping first. Hardscaping driveways, walkways, and patios compacts the soil and makes it less plant-friendly, so you’ll want to get that out of the way first. Hardscapes may also create drainage issues, so be sure they’re graded or pitched ever so slightly to encourage water to run away from the house.
Consider your soil
After completing the hardscaping, consider your soil’s condition. Amend heavy clay or compacted soil with organic material. If you want to get scientific about it, you can test your soil’s pH levels or have the local university extension complete an analysis and make recommendations about the right kind of soil amendments.
A yard full of straight lines is uninteresting and sterile-looking. Curved paths and garden beds draw the eye along and add appeal to the yard.
Let weeds take over
Don’t be afraid to pull out weeds and overgrown or dying plants. Weeds will overrun your garden beds, and dying plants clearly weren’t meant to thrive there anyway. Overgrown plants invite pests and can cause rot around windows. Use mulch to keep weeds down, and keep after them—pull weeds every time you walk through or around your garden.
Exceed your limits
Don’t plant more than you can maintain. Learn about what plants thrive in your USDA “zone,” how much sun and moisture they need, and if you should prune them in the spring or fall. Think about hardiness and drought-resistance—will these plants survive the winter where you live? Can they make it through a dry summer? Some shrubs are reliable, set-them-and-forget-them types, while others will rapidly take over your garden, obscuring other plants and even blocking views. Read the labels and factor the future into your plan.
Complete dangerous jobs yourself
Don’ttry to remove large trees or branches yourself. If you remember only one of these landscaping don’ts, it should be this one. Hire a landscaping company with certified arborists on their team to take care of any dangerous or detailed landscaping projects. Choosing the wrong branch to trim can damage or even kill a tree; not to mention, a branch could fall and injure you, or you could fall off a ladder and get badly hurt.
Plant the same plants
Don’t plant too many of the same kind of plant. Variety gives a garden charm, while rows of the same type of shrub or a looming privacy hedge detract from the beauty of the landscape. This includes grass—a lush carpet of green is attractive, but it’s also kind of boring. Lawns use a lot of water and require a lot of maintenance. Turn parts of your lawn into curving garden beds filled with perennials that thrive in your area.
If you plan carefully and put in the effort to maintain your landscape, it will bring you beauty and enjoyment for years to come.