Landscaping mistakes are frustratingly easy to make. Their consequences are often anything but easy to correct. Seemingly small errors and oversights in landscape planning and design can create outdoor spaces that are uninviting, impractical, and often pointlessly expensive.
You may have some vague notions as to the aesthetics and appearance of the yard you want. You may know how you want that yard to function. But putting your plan into action demands more than just an idea.
An intelligent, well-considered, and complete landscape design is key to making an outdoor space that is welcoming, visually appealing, and functional. That said, landscaping mistakes are often the result of poor planning or a lack of adequate landscaping experience.
10 Common Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid
- 1 10 Common Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid
- 1.1 1. Failing to establish a budget for your landscaping project.
- 1.2 2. Poorly situated trees and shrubs are a common landscaping mistake.
- 1.3 3. Neglecting to do proper research on suitable plants, flowers, and trees can be costly.
- 1.4 4. Ignoring to consider your yard’s function is a big landscaping mistake.
- 1.5 5. Failing to consider erosion control can cause you costly problems later on.
- 1.6 6. Neglecting to consider the requirements of maintenance is another common mistake.
- 1.7 7. Failing to consider your need for privacy can be an annoying inconvenience later on.
- 1.8 8. Failing to plan around wildlife is a big landscaping mistake.
- 1.9 9. Overcrowding your landscape design is an avoidable mistake.
- 1.10 10. Forgetting to incorporate fire safety into your plans can be a costly landscaping mistake.
- 2 Avoid costly landscaping mistakes.
Every aspect of your landscape design requires meticulous deliberation. For example, a paved area might seem like an obvious choice. But if it’s too small, poorly positioned, or is near impossible to keep clean, then you should reconsider.
Landscaping mistakes are not confined to hardscapes, either. Some of the costliest design errors may involve the soft elements of landscaping, too. For instance, choosing the wrong plants can lead to a perpetual struggle to keep them alive and free of pests later on.
To help you avoid costly landscaping mistakes, we’ve assembled a list of 10 of the most common errors people make when planning their yards, as well as tips on how you can avoid them.
1. Failing to establish a budget for your landscaping project.
Any failure to determine your budget early on can lead to big problems for your project. Ultimately, you may find yourself spending much more than you can afford. You may even be forced to abandon the project midway because you no longer have the funds to continue.
Setting a budget is neither exciting nor fun, but it does help you avoid all manner of otherwise needless difficulties later on. A budget provides the financial parameters within which you can come as close as possible to creating the outdoor space you want.
So, set a budget and know how much money you have available for your project even before you start designing your outdoor space.
Once you have established a budget, then you’ll be able to enjoy the freedom to create your yard without having to worry about whether or not you can afford it.
2. Poorly situated trees and shrubs are a common landscaping mistake.
Poorly situated trees and shrubs are a common landscaping mistake. Often, people plant trees too close to their houses. Trees that grow too close to your house can eventually damage the roofing. Shrubs that are too near your home can damage your home’s foundation as the roots continue to expand.
Planting trees and shrubs right next to your house also makes it much easier for pests to invade your domicile.
To get the most useful shade on the house at a practical distance, place trees 15 to 20 feet from the house. You can plant small trees closer than 15 feet, but large trees should be planted 20 feet or more away from the house.
Shrubs are another matter. You should plant small shrubs at least two feet from a house foundation. Medium-sized shrubs should be about three feet away from your house and tall shrubs four to five feet away.
3. Neglecting to do proper research on suitable plants, flowers, and trees can be costly.
The failure to research plants, flowers, and trees is one of the biggest landscaping mistakes a homeowner can make when planning a yard. Not all plants are suited for the climate in your area, after all.
Choosing the “right plant for the right place” is an important consideration for all types of landscaping. Ignoring this guideline may lead to increased maintenance, a failure of plants to thrive, and sometimes the death of the installed plants.
Consult your local extension service to find out what plants, trees, and shrubs grow well in your area, and stick to those for your landscaping project.
If all else fails, be sure to at least read the tags on each plant you purchase for your yard. The tags should provide all the necessary information you need to choose plants that are suited to your area and maintenance limitations.
4. Ignoring to consider your yard’s function is a big landscaping mistake.
While the visual aesthetic of your landscape is important, it is no more important than its function. A good-looking yard is great, but failing to consider how your family, your guests, your pets, and future buyers might use your yard is a huge landscaping mistake.
Neglecting this aspect of your landscape design could mean planting a flowerbed in your children’s favorite play area or shrubs where a gazebo should go.
To avoid this error, make a list of all the ways you and your family currently use your yard and how you want to use your yard when you have completed your project.
Make sure you consider everyone’s needs, including your pets. If your list includes particularly unique elements that won’t be easy to remove, you may want to consider how this will affect the way future buyers can use the yard. This might affect your ability to sell your property when the time comes.
5. Failing to consider erosion control can cause you costly problems later on.
The failure to consider erosion control is another common landscaping mistake. Many homes have moderate or steep slopes somewhere in the yard. Your property might be on a hillside that requires a retaining wall or a drainage swale to avoid erosion.
If any areas in your yard are susceptible to erosion, you should incorporate erosion prevention plans into your landscape design.
Preventive measures might include grading before the installation of landscaping features. They also require the construction of a retaining wall – or selecting plants or artificial grass to help limit erosion on a hillside.
Failing to plan for erosion control can lead to problems ranging from losing some topsoil to a mudslide damaging your home. Many have made this landscaping mistake only to regret it later on.
6. Neglecting to consider the requirements of maintenance is another common mistake.
The failure to consider the routine requirements of yard maintenance is a common landscaping mistake. Landscaping your property does not end with planting the last shrub or completing the wiring for your outdoor lighting.
Your maintenance tasks will begin just as you finish your project. The choices you make during the design and installation phase will affect how much time and money you will later put into maintaining your yard.
For example, choosing native plants means using less water and time to irrigate and care for them. Choosing exotic plants entails higher irrigation costs and more hours caring for them.
You will also have to choose between natural grass and artificial grass for your lawn. A natural grass lawn will require hundreds of hours each year for mowing, weeding, edging, aerating, and the application of fertilizers and pesticides.
Natural grass will likewise require thousands – if not tens of thousands – of gallons of water. You will need to spend money on the equipment and products you’ll need to keep the grass healthy and looking its best.
Make smart, forward-looking choices in the design phase to help ensure you spend less time maintaining your yard and more time enjoying it in the future.
7. Failing to consider your need for privacy can be an annoying inconvenience later on.
Neglecting your need for privacy can be a costly landscaping mistake. If you do not consider your privacy concerns during the design phase, you may end up with a spa in direct view of the street beyond your fence or an outdoor living area where the neighbors can see and hear everything you do.
The best way to avoid this landscaping mistake is to consider privacy in the planning stages of the project. This will allow you to choose the right spot for different features and determine the best ways to block views or sounds.
For example, you might position your main outdoor living area away from your neighbor’s house. You may also plant tall trees and shrubs along a shared fence to increase privacy.
You might include a fountain to reduce outside noises. You can also incorporate shade sails or privacy screens to block the view from any nearby upstairs windows and create more intimate seating areas for entertaining.
8. Failing to plan around wildlife is a big landscaping mistake.
You need to plan for the wildlife that thrives in your area when designing landscapes. This might include plans for protecting your property against wildlife you do not want even as you encourage those that are beneficial for your yard.
This includes making sure you do not destroy important habitats or block important trails. Planning for wildlife may even involve designing landscaping features to benefit local wildlife, such as ponds and bird baths.
Failing to consider the wildlife in your area is a landscaping mistake that could damage your investment. It could also mean damaging the environment and hurting the local wildlife by destroying their homes.
The first step to avoiding this mistake is knowing which animals are likely to frequent your yard. For example, if you have a lot of deer in your area, you may want to plant deer-resistant landscaping.
Be sure to do all your research. You may want to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, but keep rabbits out. Or you might want to attract bees, rabbits, and deer, but keep bears and mountain lions away.
9. Overcrowding your landscape design is an avoidable mistake.
Overcrowding an outdoor space is yet another landscaping mistake to avoid. You do not want too many statues and lawn ornaments in your yard. One garden gnome might introduce a bit of delightful whimsy to your front yard, but a dozen of them will distract from your landscaping.
Try to avoid clutter and keep non-functional ornamentation to a minimum. Be sure to curate anything you add to your yard with care and thoughtfulness.
This also goes for trees, shrubs, and plants. Too many will give produce an overcrowded look that will detract from your design. Overcrowding is not good for plants and trees, anyway, as they require space for air circulation both below the ground and above.
Remember that even though your plants might not seem crowded now, they will grow bigger as they mature. Know how big your plants are going to get before planting them so that you can plan accordingly. Simple, functional, and clean landscaping looks best and is almost always the easiest to maintain.
10. Forgetting to incorporate fire safety into your plans can be a costly landscaping mistake.
These days, a homeowner who neglects fire safety when planning the design of an outdoor space is making a potentially disastrous landscaping mistake. This error can be so significant that it could result in the loss of your home and belongings. In some cases, it can even cause the loss of life.
To avoid this oversight, be sure you create a defensible zone around your home and property when you plan your landscape project.
Choose fire-resistant plants and situate any firewood storage a safe distance away from other structures on your property. You should also devise a plan to keep weed growth to a minimum.
Avoid costly landscaping mistakes.
Whether you intend to completely redesign your landscape or you simply want a few changes here and there, you should plan all aspects of your landscape design so that you can avoid pricey landscaping mistakes.
Many people head straight to the nearest gardening supply store to browse the selections. Creating a plan beforehand will permit you to choose plants that thrive in your landscape and fit your needs.
Of course, it’s easy enough to be tempted into buying plants and ornaments that look beautiful at the garden store. But without a complete and well-considered plan, you are likely to discover later on that you have wasted money on plants and décor are unsuited to your landscape.
The tips above should help you develop a good plan, putting you on the right path to creating a beautiful, cohesive, and thriving landscape.