Do it yourself landscaping

Like most people, you probably can create and carry out a successful do-it-yourself landscaping project. All you need is a bit of advice and some knowledge. You need to plan everything well, to make the right choices, and to allow yourself to be creative as well.

Mimosa in bloom
Mimosa in bloom

Note that the information found here will also be very useful even if you plan to have someone else do your landscaping for you. Know why? Because it will help you evaluate the work done by the people who do the work for you. Just as you should follow the advice found here and the instructions found on the Landscaping Plans page, so should they. Even if they don’t tell you about all this, if they do it all in their head in a flash, they should be doing it. If they don’t, then maybe they don’t know what they’re doing. Or maybe they just want to do a fast and easy job so as to get the money and run as fast as possible.

ABCs of any landscaping project

The big advantage professional landscapers have over you is their knowledge and experience. This means that they can go faster and that the risk of them making errors is lower. So to be successful with your Do It Yourself landscaping project you will have to learn some basic knowledge and you will need to take slow steps. As you will see, the knowledge is everywhere. The Sensible Gardener is a good place to find the basic knowledge you need to make good choices and thus make as few mistakes as possible. This is important because errors will inevitably impair the success of your project, not to mention the fact that it will make the cost go up, since you will probably need to replace dying plants.

The fact that you start your landscaping project at a disadvantage compared to professional landscapers does not mean that you will not do as well, or even better, than they would. Doing everything your way and by yourself may translate into a more personal landscaping, one that is better suited to your house and neighborhood. And you will keep learning new things all along the process.

Bonding with nature

Personally, I find that do-it-yourself landscaping has many other advantages. First, it gets you outside. Then, it grounds you. When you have your hands in dirt and find yourself talking to worms and bugs, you are very close to nature. And choosing plants, bringing them home and putting them in the ground will create a stronger bond between you and your garden. You will be more interested in your plants, you will be more attentive as they grow and flourish, and you will be more likely to detect diseases and other problems.

Learning about the essentials

So, as you go along and put together your landscaping plans, be sure to know what you are doing. Bear in mind that location is the most important factor to consider. For your do-it-yourself landscaping project to be successful, you must have some of the knowledge the specialists have.

  • Sun: Will the plant receive the amount of sun it requires at that location? More than it needs can be bad, but less than it needs will result in poor performing plants if not altogether death.
  • Soil: Are the soil conditions right. Does the plant require a soil rich in humus or one that contains more sand? Or does it prefer an acid soil? Is the soil humid or does it drain very fast? Some plants suffer from root rot in humid soils, while others suffer from dry roots in well-drained soil.
  • Weather conditions: Will the plant be exposed to harsh winds? Will it survive the winter in your part of the world?
  • Size: It may seem obvious, but many people who undertake Do It Yourself landscaping projects forget that plants grow and that they can become very large indeed. Trees, especially, can grow to be very high when fully mature. And do not think only of the space they will occupy above ground. If a tree is to become very large, its roots may very well need a lot of breathing space below ground. In some cases, trees that have little space for roots will simply remain smaller, but there can also be cases where the roots will try to force their way everywhere they can, and thus cause damage.

There are also other very important factors to consider, if you don’t want your do-it-yourself landscaping project to turn into a do-it-yourself nightmare:

  • City regulations: Are you allowed to cut or plant trees and bushes. In many cities, the trees that line the streets belong to the city and you may be fined for even cutting branches on them. Many cities forbid hedges, especially on street corners, where they may impair the visibility of drivers. Check all these issues with the city.
  • Co-owners and neighbors: Planting a big tree that will cast shade, for example, may not make your co-owners or neighbors happy. So investigate these issues with your landlord, co-owners and neighbors. Look for documents that may hold information on such questions and read what is specified.

Once again, landscapers are often well aware of all these questions and they may not ask you about some of them as they may already know the answers.

Possible difficulties

Finally, be aware that you may run into some unforeseen problems. You could, for instance, find out that the soil on your yard is very rich in clay. That can change your plans considerably. And one final, final word: try to think of possible work that may need to be done around the house in the years to come. Doing work on the foundations, for example, may require that you remove all the plants and flowers that grow around the house.

Now let’s go back to basics: you need to consider the big picture as you are starting to think about landscaping your yard.

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The right plants in the right locations with the right conditions