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Landscaping, for many homeowners, is a truly fun project. Although there's work involved, it's enjoyable work. You get to be outside in the fresh air, soaking up the sun while putting beautiful and personalized touches on your property. What's not to love?
As fun as landscaping can be, and as simple as it sounds, it's still a project full of potential mistakes. While some of these mistakes are merely unsightly, some can be dangerous or even against local laws! In this article, we'll review some of the most commonly made mistakes when it comes to landscaping your property. We'll also provide simple ways to avoid these mistakes, saving you time, money and headaches.
Landscaping Error - Choosing the Wrong Plants
Shopping online is a regular part of life for many of us, and so it's only natural that when homeowners are looking to landscape, they turn to the internet for inspiration. While there are wonderful online plant retailers, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when shopping for your property.
You can find plants online which are suitable for every climate. However, it's essential to remember that they're not all suitable for your climate. While many online retailers organize their plants by region, some don't. Pay attention to climate zone recommendations. This rule applies to every type of plant, from large trees to the smallest ornamental flowers and even types of grass.
It's also important to choose the right plants for certain spots in your yard. Many homeowners have purchased a plant which is right for their climate - either online or at a local nursery - only to plant it and watch it die. Why does this happen? Several factors can be involved. Many different conditions can exist in the same climate. You might plant a shrub in a certain area which receives full sun for much of the day, when in fact the shrub thrives in shade. Likewise, your soil may be made up of dense clay, while most plants do best in a looser, richer soil.
Most of these mistakes are easy to avoid by simply observing your yard. Before you plan your landscaping, go out and dig up some soil. If it's not ideal, you can purchase good soil at a garden center to mix in. Mixing and aerating the soil also makes it looser and dislodges rocks.
Observe which areas of your yard receive the most sun and the most shade. Purchase and plant accordingly. You should also pay attention to areas which collect rainwater. While some plants thrive in a moist environment, some will literally drown. The same rule applies when planting near a natural or artificial body of water such as a decorative pond.
Landscaping Error - Not Researching Growth
Every plant grows at a different rate. Depending on your needs, this can lead to some huge (literally) landscaping mistakes.
For areas where you want dense, tall and view-blocking growth fast, seek out fast-growing trees. There are some varieties which grow as much as three feet per season, making them ideal for quickly creating a privacy screen around your yard. Planting a row of slow-growing oaks, for example, in the same space won't produce your desired results for nearly twenty years.
In certain situations, the opposite problem arises. Many homeowners visit a nursery or garden center and fall in love with a particular tree. They take it home, plant it and watch it grow - and grow - and grow. Soon, that cute little tree has blocked their view, crowded their front walk and (most dangerously) invaded underground pipes and foundations. It's essential to research the eventual height, width and spread of every plant in your yard. If trees or bushes are too crowded, they literally kill each other by blocking sun and competing for water and nutrients. The result is a yard full of half-yellowed and crooked plants.
Thankfully, this common mistake is one of the easiest to avoid. Simply check to see how large each plant will eventually grow, and plan before you plant. If you find a plant without its size listed on a tag, ask a nursery employee or check online.
Landscaping Error - Battling Nature
Landscaping your property is all about creating a space which is both beautiful to look at and in harmony with nature. However, many homeowners forget about the "harmony" part, and end up regretting the decision. There are several ways to make this particular mistake.
Learning a bit about your local wildlife will pay off when it comes to landscaping. Even if you live in the middle of a large city, wildlife is still a factor. Squirrels, skunks and raccoons are found in even the most dense urban areas, and they love to explore. Certain animals will eat certain plants, often those which produce sweet flowers or berries. If you plant flowering berry bushes, consider planting something bitter in the same area. This isn't a sure-fire remedy, but it will make animals think twice before raiding your blueberries.
If you want to attract wildlife to your home, you have many options. Research which types of animals you want to attract, and plant accordingly. Many plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and certain berry-producing trees are irresistible to birds.
Landscaping in harmony with your environment can also involve naturalizing. Naturalizing has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years, with more people than ever looking for ways to be kind to the planet. Naturalizing is a beautiful, simple and inexpensive way to be earth-friendly.
Research plants which are native to your local area. You'll likely find a wide variety of trees, shrubs, bushes and flowering plants. Not only does planting native species raise your chances for healthy, thriving plants, but it also attracts more native wildlife. Your local Department of Natural Resources can provide you a list of plants which are native to your area.
Landscaping Error - Ignoring Local Regulations
In many areas, particularly inner cities and suburbs, there are regulations and laws in place which restrict landscaping. These laws are generally in place to protect citizens and to ensure neighborhood harmony.
In cities, you're likely to find regulations regarding the placement of trees or high bushes close to public areas. Sidewalks are the most commonly affected areas, since many urban homes have sidewalks running along at least one side of the property. Branches which hang too low can pose a threat to people walking on the sidewalk, potentially poking them in the face or knocking them down if they're not seen. Check your local regulations before you plant, and be sure to keep branches pruned to a safe length.
In suburban areas, regulations which have to do with landscaping are geared more toward keeping the neighborhood looking nice. Some areas prohibit any tall trees or fences which might obscure a neighbor's view, while others simply require that all landscaping must be healthy and properly maintained. Regardless of where you live, be sure to stay within the regulations in order to avoid fines and irritated neighbors.
Landscaping Error - Ignoring Utility Lines
When it comes to landscaping, no error is more dangerous than digging without knowing the location of utility lines. Power lines, water mains and gas lines are often buried on residential property, and hitting these lines with a shovel or other implement can be truly catastrophic. In addition to the obvious danger of an explosion, you can easily flood your basement, cut off the power for your whole neighborhood, or disrupt cable and internet service.
Thankfully, this is another mistake which is very simple to avoid. Utility companies will gladly give you very detailed information regarding the lines which run through your property. In most cases, a map of the lines can be mailed or e-mailed to you. Pay very close attention, and bring this map outside with you whenever you dig. This simple step could very well save your life. 1288
Landscaping Error - Neglecting Your Yard
Far too many homeowners make the unfortunate mistake of planting a beautiful yard, only to neglect even the most basic maintenance. Just like any area of your home, your yard requires regular attention in order to look its best.
Whether you hire a landscaping company or do the planning and planting yourself, your newly landscaped yard is an investment you want to protect. Regular maintenance is the only way to do this.
If you find that you're simply too busy to do maintenance tasks such as watering, pruning and weeding, consider hiring a landscaping company. These organizations can come in daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your needs. From mowing the lawn to weeding and fertilizing a flower bed, a good landscaping company will have you covered. As with any home services, ensure that each worker is properly insured before you make a hiring decision. This not only protects them in case of injury, but it also protects you from medical bills that may result from the injury occurring on your property. 1457
Remember to Have Fun!
As you can see, avoiding common landscaping mistakes is fairly simple. Remember to do your homework, follow local laws and think before you dig. All it takes is a bit of research and some common sense to cultivate a beautiful yard that will be the envy of your entire neighborhood!