If you find yourself running into the same gardening problems year after year, chances are you're making one of these mistakes. Here what you need to know to keep your greens looking their best.
More isn't always better. "I see homeowners buy a ton of plants and put them all in one bed, when they really should be spaced out," says , 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."
Keep in mind that bushes, trees and plants will get bigger! So where you plant them initially matters. "I've had clients who have ignored how big a tree or bush will get and we had to rip them out. The roots can damage walkways and your foundation. Or it can rot your siding, letting moisture or bugs into your home. You should typically have a one to three foot barrier that remains clear around your house," says Lambton.
Get familiar with your space before going to purchase any plants or trees. Danny Watson, a garden centre associate at the , recommends knowing what type of terrain you're working with.
"Is your soil rocky, sandy, or acidic? What types of plants work best for your garden? How much direct sunlight does it 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."
It might be tempting to let your enthusiasm guide you, but starting without a set plan will end up costing your more money. "A lot of homeowners start working with no design in mind," says Patrick Fransson of 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 garden 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."
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 down to figure out the shape. It is softer and you can follow the curves of the house and readjust until it's just what you're looking for."
While it's fun to get inspired by scrolling through your Pinterest feed, you have to keep in mind 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 garden is geographically and about how much it is going to cost."
Turns out 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 garden. 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 garden," says Watson.
Wildlife is naturally unruly, so your property should reflect that. "It's boring when things look too orderly or if things are in perfect rows," says Lambton. "You want your space 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."
Adding mulch to your flower beds might seem like a no brainer, and a cure-all for any less than perfect garden edging but you need to be careful too. "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 garden so make sure it matches your house and the setting," says Watson.
Bet you don't realize all of the prep work that goes into that patio. 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."
There is a right time to water plants and your grass and spoiler alert; it's not in the middle of the day. "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."
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.
There's no excuse, you've got to read up on what you're planting. "I see people put plants in the wrong area of their gardens 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!"