13 Garden Mistakes Professional Landscapers Wish We'd Stop Making

Garden 6

If you find yourself running into the same gardening problems season after season you are definitely making some of these mistakes.

Here’s what you need to know to keep your greens looking at their best!


The more-the better, isn’t always true, especially when it comes to gardening.  “I see homeowners buy a ton of plants and put them all in one bed, when they really should be spaced out,” says Chris Lambton, landscape designer and host of the upcoming show on HGTV and the DIY Network. “While it offers instant gratification for that first year, two years in the plants are all dying because they’re fighting for space and nutrients. It’s a huge waste of time and money.”

Planting too close to your home

Don’t forget that trees, plants and flowers get bigger. “I’ve had clients who have ignored how big a tree or a bush will get and had to rip them off. The roots can damage walkways and your foundation. Or, it can rot your siding, letting moisture or bugs into your home. You should have one to three foot barrier that remains clear around your house” – says Lambton.

Not getting to know your garden

It is important to get familiar with your space before you purchase anything from plants to trees. Danny Watson, a garden center associate at Home Depot recommends it is necessary to know what type of terrain you’re working with.  “Is your soil rocky, sandy, or acidic? What types of plants work best for your yard? How much direct sunlight does your yard receive throughout the day? Does your area have water restrictions? You should be asking yourself all of these questions,” says Watson. “Ask for help when you’re purchasing plants or do research on the web. There’s no excuse not to be prepared. You can even get an inexpensive soil testing kit to get even more specific.”

Starting without a plan

This is a very common mistake, as many gardeners often guided by their enthusiasm start without setting a plan, but end up spending much more money than they should. “A lot of homeowners start working with no design in mind,” says Patrick Fransson of Fransson Landscapes, LLC in Newport, Rhode Island. “The problem is you get a quarter or half way through a project and run into problems that could have been mitigated. While it’s more money upfront, you do know you’re going to avoid having a yard that looks like a hodge-podge, full of overcrowded beds, plants not getting the nutrients or sunlight they need, or a patio that keeps breaking apart because of foundational issues.”

Not paying attention to the architecture of your house

Your yard should always complement your home and increase curb appeal. “There are certain landscape styles that work better aesthetically, so always play off of the look of your house,” says Watson. “A clever way to play with the garden bed shapes close to your house, is by laying a garden hose down to figure out the shape. It is softer and you can follow the curves of the house and readjust till it’s just what you’re looking for.”

Relying on trends without getting a second opinion

Yes, it is inspiring to see pics on Pinterest and want to incorporate them in your yard, but be careful as you have to remember the time, money and resources that go into a seemingly simple photo. “It’s a great tool for ideas, but you have to get real too,” says Fransson. “Be realistic about where your yard is geographically and about how much it is going to cost.”

Not thinking about lighting

It’s not just for nighttime and it’s not only aesthetic. “Your landscape wasn’t meant to be seen only during the day! Highlight trees and accent certain features of your yard. It makes your home look more welcoming and also provides security by keeping it well lit. So when you get home you can see what’s going on in your yard,” says Watson.

Keeping things too neat

Your property should reflect wildlife. “It’s boring when things look too orderly or if things are in perfect rows,” says Lambton. “You want your yard to look natural, which is more random and curvy. Go for clusters of flowers instead of rows. Nature just wasn’t intended to exist in such an organized state.”

Not minding your mulch

You should be careful when adding mulch to your flowers beds, as no matter how easy and simple it sounds, always be careful. “Some marble chips can be light reflecting or can change the soil PH, so try to go with darker gravel if that’s what your in to. Consider what looks natural too and what fits with your landscaping. It shouldn’t be the focal point, it’s an accent to the plants and trees in your yard so make sure it matches your house and the setting,” says Watson.

DIY-ing large-scale patios or paths

You don’t realize all of the prep work that goes into that patio, do you?. Fransson says, “People think they can muscle through and just do things themselves, without realizing the digging and excavation that needs to go underneath that patio. If you don’t have the right materials underneath it will erode and break down—basically it will be an absolute disaster. Just like your home needs a foundation, your patio does too.”

Watering at the wrong time of the day

Watering in the middle of the day? A big no-no. “Water it in the morning and that’s it,” says Lambton. “If you water during the middle of the day the water will evaporate because the grass and leaves are hot, so the water won’t make it down to the roots. It can even burn the plants.”

Forgetting to add architectural details

Landscaping isn’t just about plants! “Add rocks or water features in addition to your plants, it’s all about balance. While too many additional features feels busy, having plants only can be boring. Think about texture, color, height and avoid too much of any one color,” says Watson.

Ignoring the directions that come with your plants

No excuses for this one! Read the instructions and directions on the packages! “I see people put plants in the wrong area of their yards all the time, planting shade plants in the sun or sun plants in the shade,” says Lambton. “Pay attention to the planting instructions on the tags, I’ve been doing this for years and I still double check the tags!”

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