We all want a beautiful yard, but it’s important to plan landscape design well. Many well-intentioned people have thrown things at their yards, often what they find on sale at home improvement store garden centers, only to find themselves wasting money and time for no real return. Those garden centers are often staffed by people with little to no knowledge of plants or of what grows well here in Connecticut. Here are a few landscaping mistakes you want to avoid and some advice from landscape design experts.
The 10 Biggest Landscape Design Mistakes People Make
1. Short Grass
Mowing the lawn is not fun, so it’s not surprising that many people mow their grass very short in an effort to avoid having to mow too often. This strategy will actually backfire on you. If the grass doesn’t have enough height, it can easily begin developing bare patches. These patches can become homes for invasive insects and the starting place for diseases that will affect the whole yard.
Water will not evaporate so quickly off your grass if you leave the blades a little bit longer in summer. At the very end of autumn, go ahead and cut it a bit shorter for winter so your soil can benefit from what sunlight it can get here in New England.
2. Choosing the Wrong Plants for Connecticut
When you go to your average home improvement store garden center, you’re going to see an array of gorgeous plants with signs assuring you that they’re perfect for your location. While these garden centers do make an attempt to prioritize plants that grow well in certain climates, they also include lots of plants that can only thrive with very careful attention by people who really know what they’re doing, or which are really only suitable for greenhouse growing here in New England.
Not only do you need to consider what plants grow well in this climate, but you also have to consider the specifics of your yard. Some plants want full sun while others need filtered sun. Still others need a shady spot. Some prefer acidic soil. Some need very well-drained soil. Make sure you know exactly what you need so you can find the plants that will work.
3. Not Thinking About Color
Before you start planting flowers and shrubs, take some time to think about the color palette you want to develop. If you have a home painted in a distinctive color, certain plants may look particularly good, or not, up against it.
You also want to think about how the various colors will work with each other – or against one another. In most cases, you will want to find a color that frames your house, though you want to stay away from using too much of any one color. The key with gardening is repetition, but also harmony rather than rote copying.
4. Forgetting About the Wildlife
Certain plants are going to attract wildlife to your home. Some of the most beautiful flowering plants out there are practically irresistible to deer. Once they discover you growing such tasty morsels, they will keep coming back to this “restaurant” and invite all their friends. Rabbits can also be a nuisance, and then there are ground squirrels, woodchucks, and more.
The last thing you want to do is create an interesting and delicious environment for your local skunks! Thankfully that’s not terribly likely (unless you have a convenient area they can den in, like under a deck or garage) as skunks prefer to eat small creatures rather than plants: but in the winter, they do enjoy certain plant roots. They can also be very fond of certain seeds, blackberries, blueberries, and corn.
5. Pruning at the Wrong Time
Pruning is very important for the health of your plants, and you are probably already aware that pruning is a way of shaping plants in a more pleasing way. However, you can severely damage your plants by pruning them at the wrong time of year.
In general, most plants do best when pruned at around the time they are going dormant in the late fall or even in the winter. However, each plant needs to be evaluated on its own merits, so be sure to look up the plants you have and make sure you are doing it right.
If some is good, more is better! That (tongue-in-cheek) motto is never more wrong than when it comes to watering your lawn. Make sure you know how much water your various plants need, and take your grass into consideration, too. Most lawns don’t need more than about an inch of water each week, and overwatering can have serious consequences. For nearly all plants, the best time to water is early in the morning.
7. Too Many Ornaments
A few ornaments can make your lawn look striking and memorable. Too many become a distraction from the natural landscape around them and can make your home look cluttered and even silly.
It can be hard to resist some of the interesting and often hilarious lawn ornaments available in garden centers and big box stores, but you should always ask yourself exactly where you’re going to put an ornament before you buy it. Then, ask yourself exactly how it will fit into the overall decor of that area. If you can’t answer these questions, don’t buy it.
8. Forgetting About the Kids
Especially when you move into a new house, it can be very exciting to consider all the landscaping possibilities. Just remember to take your whole family into account, and particularly the kids. Is your lawn going to be a place just to look at, or will it also be a place where the family gathers, children play, and the dogs run freely? Design your landscape with these concepts in mind. Make sure there are clear areas where children and animals can run around without danger of hurting themselves.
9. Disregarding Seasons
Unlike some areas of the country, we have very clearly defined spring, summer, autumn, and winter here in Connecticut. Take advantage of these distinctions. Remember that some flowers will bloom early in the spring; others late. Some will not appear until summer, while others will not appear until summer is almost over.
Some trees and shrubs may look quite boring in spring and summer but will burst into glorious color in autumn. Certain holly bushes will retain beautiful green leaves and red and white berries that can be striking through the winter. As you plan your landscape, consider how it will change and develop as the seasons pass.
10. Not Thinking Into the Future
That little tree looks so beautiful in the garden center, but when the tree is 25 feet tall and threatens to come down on your roof in a storm, you may not love it so much. Take the time to learn about the growth habits of all the plants you bye. How quickly will they spread? How tall will they get? How much maintenance will they need? In the digital age, it’s possible to find out everything you need to know online. Just do this before you buy rather than after!
A lot goes into a beautiful landscape design. For a lot of us, the best solution is going to be to find landscaping experts who know the area and can set us up with a beautiful design that changes with the seasons and highlights the beauty of our area as well as the beauty of our homes. To find trusted landscapers near you, visit us at Landscapers Locator today!