Landscaping Tricks of the Trade

Landscaping is an excellent way to add curb appeal to your home and is a low budget way to spruce up the exterior of your home.  But what you don’t know when landscaping, can cost you time and money in replacing plants, lawns and maintenance.  There are plenty of tips you're missing if you're landscaping your own yard or creating a garden. 

Here are the top ten tips for do it yourself landscaping that they may not have mentioned at any big box store or nursery:

  • Trees and shrubs are usually fairly low maintenance in the yard, but they need annual pruning to keep them looking good and keeping them healthy.
  • Landscaping is not just the lawn and garden, it includes any object affecting the overall aesthetics of the grounds of a property – so don’t forget driveway maintenance, sheds, fences, decks and patio in landscaping plans.
  • For the practical side of designing your own landscape: group plants with similar requirements together. This includes sun and watering requirements and will reduce maintenance for you.  Shrubs should be planted in groups of three or five for more impact and a natural look.
  • If you’re digging in your yard – make sure you know the location of any underground utility cables – not only can you sever utility cables, but it’s dangerous.  Many areas have regional numbers to call to check for underground utility locations – 811 in the New England area, Miss Utility in the Mid Atlantic and the Underground Service Alert system on the West Coast.  Check with your local cooperative extension for contact information for your local services.
  • Edging flower beds - cutting fresh edges where grass meets the garden or the mulch makes the lawn look well kept. A move as simple as curving the edge of your flower beds could increase the value of your home up to 1 percent.  If you’re shrubs are outgrowing your garden and you've already edged, move the garden!  Widen the edging by 1 foot or more to bring the shrubbery more in line with the garden size and keeping them from looking overgrown.
  • You'll save at least 50% by buying smaller plants, shrubs and trees and waiting a few seasons to get the full visual impact.  Make sure when planting that you space them based on the mature size listed on the label, not how they look now.
  • Don’t use plantings only on the property lines and by the house, place throughout the property to create a depth in the yard, it helps the home look further from the road than it actually is.
  • Timing is everything when trying to save money on landscaping projects, lumber for outdoor projects is often cheaper during winter months. Save money on trees, shrubs, perennials, soil, and mulch by buying late in the season.
  • Helping your neighbors can help you in the process. Share the rental fees for expensive landscaping equipment such as tillers, chippers, or pressure washers with others on the block, then take turns and save money.  Sharing the labor can make the tasks go much quicker as well.
  • Mulch is expensive and a pain to purchase at the large big box stores – and finding someone to help you load it into the trunk can be like pulling teeth.  Consider having mulch delivered. or if you have a pickup, it can be loaded in bulk onto the bed.  A cubic yard of mulch is approximately $25 - $35 or $1 per foot, less than ½ the cost of bagged mulch.  Delivery can be fairly reasonable if there is a source in the area.  It’s worth the cost and labor savings to look into the option