A Few Landscaping Faux Pas Better Left Avoided

Landscaping
Gardening
Outdoor and Gardening
By Alex Mikayelyan September 07, 2021

So you’ve finally decided to pick up a shovel and start giving your outdoor living space some of the landscaping attention it deserves. This is great. Any homeowner who has land around their house should know how to work with it in order to give it personality, purpose, and form. After all, if you have land around your home why not take advantage of the unique ways you can bring it to life and expand the places you get to “live” in. 

But landscaping is by no means easy. It takes a lot of trial and error to learn on your own. It will take you a few landscaping projects to get to know your tools, techniques, and the subtle nuances needed to successfully finetune the landscape to fit your visions and goals. As with anything new that you get into, you’re bound to make mistakes in your landscaping attempts, which is completely natural and is to be expected. However, there are some landscaping mistakes you can avoid from the get-go, because, unfortunately, many have made them before. 

Too Much Outdoor Decor

How to Avoid Overcrowding Your Landscape

How to Avoid Overcrowding Your Landscape

Let’s start with a very simple mistake that some homeowners make quite often. Having lawn ornamentation is a great way to personalize your landscape and give it a unique appearance. However, some homeowners take lawn decor way too far and overcrowd their front lawns with garden gnomes, flamingos, and flowers that don’t go well together and are no longer very unique.

A very simple way around this is to limit the variety in additions and give your eyes some breathing room. A good way to gauge whether or not you have too much stuff is to take a step back from your lawn and look at it from an outsider’s perspective. If the decor is too saturated you will have a hard time locking your eyes onto any specific area of the landscape. Instead, make it a goal for your eyes to travel but also be able to take in the frame as a unit. If you maintain a balance of decor such as light fixtures, sculptures, and flowers along with a good amount of open space, the harmony between the order and chaos of your landscape will be much more apparent. 

Mowing the Grass Too Short

Why You Shouldn’t Cut Your Grass Too Short

Why You Shouldn’t Cut Your Grass Too Short

Mowing the lawn is a fundamental part of lawn maintenance and landscape care. It’s always important to have your lawn tended to and properly mowed, but don’t take this too far and scalp the landscape. Cutting the grass too short could actually result in the grass not growing back or growing back evenly, leaving dry and bare patches in its place.

Actually, optimal grass height depends on what time of the year it is. In the spring when the sun is not radiating as much heat as it does in the summer, you should cut the grass slightly shorter to allow the light to reach each blade of grass. In the summer, however, when the sun is too strong, it is recommended that you leave the grass slightly longer so they cast some shade on the ground below, keeping the sun from scorching and damaging the soil. 

Drowning Your Plants

When it comes to growing plants, there is a lot more to horticulture than putting plants in the ground and then occasionally giving them water. Growing plants is a very sensitive process, especially when it comes to how much water each plant type needs. It’s quite easy to fall into the deception that more water equals stronger, healthier plants. Overwatering may end up drowning your plants and inhibiting their growth.

Overwatering does not just happen the second you pour too much water onto the soil. It can also occur due to water buildup which is caused by the lack of a proper irrigation system. Before cultivating your plants, make sure that the water has a path to travel through so that it doesn’t accumulate over time and drown your plants. Additionally, it is highly recommended to water early in the morning so that the soil has plenty of time to dry up any excess water.

Underestimating the Power of Outdoor Lighting

Well Placed Landscape Lighting Helps Define and Highlight Your Outdoor Spaces

Well Placed Landscape Lighting Helps Define and Highlight Your Outdoor Spaces

The presence of natural light outside often leads homeowners to overlook the importance of exterior lighting. But even if you live on a street that is well lit at night, underestimating outdoor lighting can actually be quite dangerous. Sure the moonlight and street lamps might help you see your general surroundings, but if you want to see where you’re walking you’re going to need more lighting than that.

But practicality is not the only reason why you should have a proper lighting setup. As with interior lighting, outdoor lights are used to emphasize and accentuate various aspects of your garden design. This means they can change the game for how your home looks at night. For example, placing stake lights along the paved path on your lawn also serves to highlight the subtle details of your landscape and hint at the size of your lawn. It is also crucial to plan out your lighting before installing any fixtures. Take the time to assess what aspects of your home’s exterior you want the lights to accentuate and be mindful of the spacing between the other fixtures in the vicinity. As a general rule of thumb, keep each stake light around six to eight feet apart.

Overcrowding Plants

Why Plants Shouldn’t Grow Too Close

Why Plants Shouldn’t Grow Too Close

It’s easy to underestimate how big a plant is going to get over time when you've only just brought it home as a bud. So many homeowners purchase a wide assortment of flowers, plant them close to each other expecting to see them grow into a gorgeous congregation of vibrant hues akin to a classical symphonic orchestra. But unbeknownst to them, the garden is going to grow into something closer to improvisational jazz, which is not as easy to process and enjoy visually. With each flower growing at different rates, it’s easy to end up with chaotic front yard landscaping

Looking into what a plant will look like when fully grown before purchasing it is a good habit to adopt. When going to buy seeds, ask the salesperson to show you what the plant will look like once it reaches its full size and how long it will take for the plant to get there. This will help you plan the layout of your landscape without causing claustrophobia for your flowers.

Taking Care of Your Plants Based On Instinct

Homeowners who aren’t too into horticulture tend to cultivate plants arbitrarily based on either appearance or convenience. Sure, planting flowers of your choice is a great way to add personality and color to your landscape but it’s important to know that every species you bring home has its own special needs. Plants are very sensitive to their surroundings and this is extremely true about the soil as well.

Before cultivating a plant, get familiar with the plant variety and what it requires. For example, some plants are very sensitive to sunlight and do not take kindly to direct exposure to its rays. It would be wiser to plant them closer to a tree or a building where their exposure is limited. Other plants require plenty of water and lots of sunlight, so you want to plant them in the open where they can get enough of both. The dirt composition is also an important factor in determining how healthy your plants will grow to be. For example, there are plants out there that thrive in mulchy soil, whereas others are unable to grow in it. Ask a local gardener or flower enthusiast about your new green friends before cultivating them. The better care they get, the longer they’ll live, and the more efficiently you’ll be spending on your landscaping projects.

Not Paying Enough Attention to Paver Paths

Paver Paths That Are Both Functional and Zen

Paver Paths That Are Both Functional and Zen

While paver paths are considered hardscaping features, they are integral to any lawn or backyard if you wish to freely move around. Not enough attention to their design and arrangement risks limiting your freedom of movement in your garden. Some paver path designs may also end up neglecting the stability of the stones and could even end up being a tripping hazard. 

Don’t put off your paver path upgrade. Make sure that the path is in the best possible condition to ensure safe travels through your landscape as well as for the visual satisfaction of seeing a perfectly smooth path leading to your front door or winding through your garden. To show off the winding curvature of your paver path, you can also install concrete edging which creates a garden border between the path and the surrounding nature. 

Planting Close to the House

Avoid Plant Damage to Your Home’s Exterior by Leaving Some Room to Breathe

Avoid Plant Damage to Your Home’s Exterior by Leaving Some Room to Breathe

Trees and shrubs are among the most apparent features of your landscape. One mistake that many homeowners make is planting them close to the house, though. It is generally recommended to keep plant life a few feet away from the house so as to avoid having the exterior damaged by loose branches.

We all love our trees, shrubs, and plant life, especially when we want to create a more biophilic living environment. But bringing nature closer to your home shouldn’t always be taken literally. Plan out your landscaping design by keeping trees and shrubs at just enough distance, so that the bigger branches don’t hit your house whenever there is a strong wind. This is especially useful for those living in areas with regular storms and strong winds, where the trees are more likely to smash against the exterior of your home.

Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan