25 Mistakes to Avoid when Landscaping Your Yard
If you’re like most people,
owning a home is probably something you dreamed about for a long time.
When you finally become an official homeowner, it’s tempting to jump right into landscaping the yard.
After all, you’re going to want to make it your own.
However, it pays to proceed with caution.
Without thinking things through, it’s easy to make costly and time-consuming mistakes.
The point is that there’s a definite art to landscaping a yard, which is why many people pay the professionals to do it for them.
If you’re the do-it-yourself type, though, make sure to avoid the following 25 mistakes.
1. Using the Wrong Tools
When landscaping the yard, the work will be easier and the results will be more professional when you have the right tools.
There’s also the matter of safety.
Without the appropriate tools, it’s a lot easier to accidentally hurt yourself while working on the yard.
In addition to having the right tools for the job, you should have protective gear handy too.
It never hurts to be careful.
2. Putting Plants in Impractical Locations
While shopping for plants at the nursery, always read the little tag before making a purchase.
Is there a suitable place in your yard for the plant?
Don’t just wing it.
Those tags are extremely accurate.
If a plant needs a lot of sunlight, for instance, don’t plant it in a shady corner of your yard.
It won’t do well there, and it will detract from the appearance of your yard.
3. Not Upgrading to Pavers
It pays to put in a little extra effort with patios, driveways, walkways and other parts of the yard.
A great way to do that is by using high-quality pavers.
Instead of just pouring concrete, consider using pavers.
There’s a countless array of ways in which pavers can be used, and there’s a seemingly limitless number of stylish options available.
The right pavers will enhance the appearance of your yard in a big way.
4. Using Improper Fertilizing Techniques
When it comes to fertilizing mistakes, there are two biggies: not fertilizing at all and overdoing it.
If you don’t have the time or patience to do it correctly, hire a professional lawn care service to do it for you.
It’s well worth the money, and it will allow you to focus on other matters.
Ideally, it should be done twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall.
5. Letting Maintenance Slide
The initial landscaping work that you do is sure to be fun and should keep you occupied for awhile.
You can’t just walk away and leave your yard to its own devices.
If you’re going to put in all that work, you need to be committed to maintaining it all too.
That’s another reason why you shouldn’t get in over your head.
Before adding new plants, make sure that you can keep up with them.
6. Butchering Trees and Bushes
One of the most common landscaping mistakes out there is going too crazy with the pruning shears.
Sure, it’s nice to trim the hedges and keep trees under control.
However, it’s easy to go way too far.
It’s almost better not to prune at all than it is to prune too much.
If you can’t trust yourself to do it right, hire someone to do it for you.
7. Not Bothering with Exterior Lighting
Even if you never plan to spend time in your yard after sunset, it’s nice to show off your hard work at night too.
That doesn’t mean that you need to have lights blazing 24/7.
That would result in a hideous electric bill.
At the very least, you could invest in a set of stylish solar lights and use them to illuminate walkways.
They look especially nice with pavers, but they can be placed just about anywhere.
8. Ignoring how it Looks from Inside the Home
As you landscape your yard, make sure to keep the way it looks from inside your home in mind at all times.
If you’re not careful, you could end up with a really unappealing view while enjoying your morning cup of coffee or kicking back at the end of the day.
Run inside periodically to see how it looks from in there.
You’ll be glad you did.
9. Buying Things on Impulse
You should always make careful plans before buying anything for your yard.
This applies to everything from pavers to plants.
You may completely fall in love with something at the nursery or home improvement store, but you should do some research before busting out the credit card.
Will it really work in your yard?
Are you getting a good deal?
Keep these things in mind.
10. Not Accounting for Local Wildlife
Nothing is more frustrating than devoting huge amounts of time, effort and money to landscaping your yard and watching the local wildlife systematically destroy it.
As you buy new plants, find out whether they will be tempting to local wildlife or not.
If you’d like to plant a vegetable garden, take steps to prevent rabbits and other critters from getting in and stuffing their faces.
11. Going Overboard with Lawn Decorations
Every neighborhood has at least one house that clearly went a little too crazy with lawn ornaments.
One or two carefully selected pieces can accentuate a yard in a nice way.
Dozens of them can make it look absolutely awful.
While landscaping, keep simplicity in mind.
A clean, clutter-free yard is infinitely more attractive than one that is packed to the gills with plastic flamingoes and other decorations.
12. Not Keeping the Whole Family in Mind
If you have kids, you’re already used to making concessions for them.
You’re going to have to do the same thing while landscaping your yard.
After all, you’re going to want your kids to be able to play outside.
If you include elements that get in the way of that, they won’t be able to do so.
That doesn’t mean that you have to give your whole yard over to swing sets and sand boxes.
It just means you need to strike a nice, family-friendly balance.
13. Failing to Account for the Architecture of the Home
Some plants work well with certain architectural styles, and others don’t.
As you peruse the selection at the local nursery, keep the architectural style of your home in mind at all times.
If you don’t have the best memory, bring along a few photos of the exterior of your home.
Before buying a plant, consider whether it meshes with the style of your home.
If it doesn’t, cross it off the list.
14. Not Choosing a Palette
It’s nice to have colorful flowers, but they shouldn’t look like confetti.
In fact, it’s generally best to stick with a relatively monochromatic look.
An occasional splash of contrasting color is fine, but you don’t want to go too crazy with various colors.
It will create a look that’s just a little too disjointed.
15. Wasting Clippings and Trimmings
It’s smart to put yard clippings and trimmings to good use.
It’s a nice way to reduce, reuse and recycle, and it might even save you money in the long run.
For example, rent a wood chipper and turn those branches and twigs into mulch.
Let the grass clippings stay on the grass to work as fertilizer.
Start a compost pile and throw leaves and other clippings in it too.
16. Disregarding the Seasons
The various seasons have a major effect on the appearance and conditioning of your home’s landscaping.
As you select flowers and plants, find out how they will change throughout the year.
Will they look as nice in the fall as they do in the spring?
Are you willing to buy different plants when the seasons change?
If you want your home to look great all year long, you need to keep these things in mind.
17. Cutting the Grass Too Short
If you think that cutting the grass extra short will help you cut back on the amount of mowing you have to do, think again.
That just isn’t true, and cutting the grass too short can wreak all kinds of havoc on your lawn.
Bald patches and other blemishes can develop, and your lawn can take on a patchy, unkempt look.
Leave the grass a little longer in the summer and cut it a little short in the winter for best results.
18. Ignoring the Curb Appeal of Your Home
You shouldn’t be content with a stunning backyard.
The front yard should look amazing too.
After all, it’s what the vast majority of people see when it comes to your home.
When you go to sell it someday, you’re going to want it to look terrific from the street.
Why not keep it that way all along?
19. Using Poorly Sized Pots
Always buy pots that are a suitable size for the plants that you’re using.
It’s okay to use slightly larger pots so that plants can grow into them, but they shouldn’t completely dwarf the plants.
If they do, the plants could actually struggle to grow and might even die.
Similarly, don’t keep plants in pots that are too small, or they may become root-bound and die.
20. Not Budgeting in Advance
In the excitement of landscaping your yard, you may completely forget to set a budget.
This is a huge mistake.
People don’t often realize how expensive it can be to work on the yard.
It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars and have little or nothing to show for it.
If money is an issue, plan things out well in advance so that you don’t break the bank.
21. Planting Trees Too Deeply
For some reason, people often plant trees too deeply. It’s probably because a young tree seems more securely when its firmly planted into the ground.
However, air needs to get to its roots, and it can’t do so easily if it’s planted too deeply.
Plant it no deeper than its root ball, or at least copy the way it was planted in the pot or sack.
22. Over-Watering the Lawn
There is absolutely no benefit to saturating the grass with water.
Don’t just turn on the sprinkler and leave for the day.
The average lawn needs about one inch of water per week.
The best time to water the lawn is early in the morning so that it can absorb it throughout the day, so get into the habit of doing that.
23. Choosing the Wrong Plants
Sure, that plant at the nursery may look incredible.
How will it fare in your yard?
You have to be practical and realistic when choosing plants for your yard.
Just as you wouldn’t plant a cactus outdoors in Minnesota, you shouldn’t choose a random plant and hope for the best wherever you live.
Do some research to ensure that the plants you buy will thrive.
24. Not Planning for the Future
When buying a plant, do some research to find out how it is likely to grow and spread.
People often get in over their heads with climbing plants, for instance, and end up with vines crawling over everything.
Bushes and shrubs can do the same thing, so it’s smart to learn as much as you can before taking the plunge.
That’s especially true if you plan to be in your house for a long time.
25. Using the Same Plants Everywhere
Try to mix things up a little when choosing plants for your yard.
Simplicity is important, but using the same plants everywhere is sure to produce a boring look.
The color scheme should be fairly monochromatic, but the actual plants should vary a little.
The end result will be a lot more pleasing to the eye.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of these possible mistakes, take a deep breath.
Things will happen, but your yard is sure to look incredible in the end.