One of the finishing touches on any new home or home remodel is the landscaping. If you take a walk around your own neighborhood, you'll notice that some houses look beautifully manicured, while other houses simply don't, even though the yards are green and the weeds are pulled. So what separates the homes with the perfect landscaping from the homes with mediocre lawns and gardens? Often, it is one of the seven following landscaping mistakes:
Planting without Planning
By far, one of the biggest landscaping mistakes you can make is to start planting without having an overall plan. Before you ever go to the greenhouse or home and garden center, sit down and chart out how you want the overall yard to look. Even if you don't have the money to do it all right now, have an ultimate goal. If you don't, your landscaping will end up looking pieced together, instead of like an overall design. Planning ahead also allows you to budget for more expensive parts of your overall look, like trees, ponds, or pools.
Landscaping for Just One Season
Even if you live in the north, you can create a landscaping plan that works year-round. Many people start by coming up with a look that is beautiful in the spring and summer, but what happens when it starts to snow and the ground freezes? For every plant you include that dies during the winter, you should have a plant that stays green. You can even find some plants that have berries during the winter for some extra color. You can also use non-living pieces to enhance your design during the entire year.
Using colors is a good thing, but many homeowners make the mistake of keeping the color contained to just one part of the design. You don't have to have color everywhere, but if you have rosebushes in one part of your yard, don't surround it with more flowers and leave the rest of the garden green. In landscaping, think of green as a neutral color, like black or white. Add colors everywhere.
Many landscaping designs fail because they don't take into account irrigation needs. This isn't just about getting enough water to the plants (though that is important - as you'll see in the next point). Irrigation is also about making sure that water doesn't destroy your landscaping altogether. This isn't a problem for every yard, but if you live in a low-lying area, water could set in puddles, killing grass and other plants. If your home's yards are sloped, you could see even more problems, as a heavy rain could create ruts with the running water. Pools and ponds could overflow if they aren't managed, and during hot summers, larger plants might leach water from the ground, making it impossible for smaller plants to survive.
Not Meeting Each Plant's Needs
Every plant you purchase will have certain needs that you'll have to meet if you want your landscaping design to work. For larger plants, you'll need to consider the amount of water they're getting and the room their roots have to grow. For smaller plants, it is important to consider whether or not they'll get enough sun based on the location of your house and trees that could block the light. Some plants don't do well near one another. For example, plants classified as vines might “choke” other plants. You also need to understand each plant's growing season so that you prune, water, and harvest fruit at the right times. When you create your overall landscaping plan, you need to make sure that each plant's needs are met by their space in your design.
Forgetting about Wildlife
No matter where you live, there will be furry and feathered creatures that can wreak havoc on your landscaping if you don't prevent it. Some people think that if they stick to landscaping without fruits and vegetables, they'll be safe, but that isn't true. Animals like to eat leaves and flowers as well, and burrowing animals can even ruin grass. Plan ahead for the wildlife. For some, this means having fences or other barriers. Others may do well by distracting animals away from plants with their own feeders. Organic pesticides can also help keep unwelcome critters away in a human way. Keep in mind, though, that wildlife also means you're doing a good job with your plants, so some birds, insects, and other animals can actually be good. For example, without bees in your yard, your flowers won't get pollinated.
Give your Garden No Attention
Finally, it is a huge mistake to be overzealous in your planning of a landscape design that you don't have the time or money to maintain. Gardens have to be planted, weeded, harvested, and otherwise maintained during the plants' growing seasons. Trees and bushes need to be pruned annually. Pools, ponds, fountains, and other water features have to be winterized if you get frost in your area and cleaned regularly. If you don't maintain your grass and other plants, allowing them to overgrow, you also run the risk of attracting dangerous snakes to your house. If you don't have the time or money to care for your dream landscape, stick to a much simpler design that only needs tending every few weeks. The end result will be much prettier than a weedy, tangled mess.