The Top DIY Landscape Design Mistakes

Homeowners are rolling up their sleeves and getting into the “trenches” of their landscape design. The DIY landscape designers are growing in numbers and many are saving money while enjoying the rewards of getting their hands dirty.

Unfortunately, desire and good intentions will not get the job done. Many well-meaning homeowners have every intention of creating a beautiful landscape design just like they imagine. But, mistakes and rookie errors often delay their design or ruin the entire project.

If you are serious about creating the landscape of your dreams, pay attention to these common mistakes and do the necessary research to prevent unwanted mishaps.

Keeping Up With the Joneses – If you are designing your landscape simply to compete with your neighbors, you may not like your outcome. People who are in competitive mode often forget about the important aspects of the landscape design and make errors in the process.

No Plan – Imagine you got in your car and drove away without any thoughts as to where you were going. This seems absurd and so does designing your landscape without a plan. Any large home project needs a plan or a detailed blueprint that lists the location of every plant, light, feature and fixture.

Lack of Knowledge of Your Yard – How well do you know your yard? Does it get a lot of shade? Have any rocky areas? Suffer from summer-scorching sun? You must know every inch of your yard so you can effectively design a landscape that enhances it. You may want a water feature in the right corner, but if the land slopes, you must re-think your plan. Work within the constraints of your property, not against it.

Living Outside of Your Means – Whenever you start a DIY project, pad your budget considerably. Nearly all home projects cost more than what was originally budgeted because unforeseen circumstances always arise. Pay attention to your budget and leave yourself some room. Additionally, don’t opt for expensive, exotic plants if your budget can’t handle it. You can find beautiful, inexpensive options for half the price of some luxury materials.

No Seasonal Touches – Plan to have a year-round landscape that will bring you pleasure even in the cool fall and winter months. Don’t forget about the four seasons when you are selecting your foliage. Many shrubs and beautiful autumn colors can accompany your landscape throughout the fall months and take you right through winter. Research plants that thrive in all seasons so you can enjoy your landscape all year round!

Too Focused on Design – DIY landscape designers often consider style and aesthetic properties first before function. While you can have both in your design, when push comes to shove, function trumps all. For example, if a shrub will make walking through a path unsafe, safety must be considered. Focus on safety and convenience first and build your design around those parameters.

Your landscape design project is your baby and it should go exactly as planned. If you pay attention to the details before you begin and take a little extra time to craft a functional plan, the process will be easy and the results will be stellar. Good luck!

Is Your Landscape Lighting Polluting Others?

When we think of pollution the first thought that comes to mind is highways, Los Angeles, airports, smog and major cities. Yet, outside of the air we breathe, pollution can come in many other forms.

Have you ever wondered if your landscape lighting was causing a safety hazard? Is the glare from your lighting hedging into your neighbor’s property?

Many homeowners are unaware of how their lights are affecting others. Improperly installed lighting fixtures can send unwanted beams into a neighbor’s yard or result in a safety hazard if glare spills over onto streets or in other places it shouldn’t be.

Below are the three categories of lighting pollution:

  • Sky Glow – Sky glow is light that is focused upwards toward the sky and wastes precious power since it is not illuminating any landscape surface. This type of lighting pollution does not contribute any safety features to the landscape such as lighting walkways or porches.
  • Glare – Glare is the byproduct of intense lighting. This pollution can create unsafe conditions for people walking on your property or for drivers if the glare is focused towards the road.
  • Light Trespass – Light trespass occurs when light intended to illuminate a particular area spills over into your neighbor’s property where it doesn’t belong.

If you intend on eliminating the lighting pollution around your home, it may be wise to hire a professional. Your landscape lighting should highlight specific areas without illuminating unwanted spaces. A trained contractor will understand the range of glare and how to maximize your power without creating unwanted safety hazards.

Electrical contractors understand how to position lights not only maximize power, but also to avoid any potentially hazardous conditions. A landscape lighting expert will map out your design paying attention to the focal points while pinpointing where the lights should focus. A professional will know how to offer you the design you desire without sacrificing safety and a distraction-free environment for your neighbors.

Here are a few solutions to lighting pollution:

  • Stick to specific areas – Landscape lighting should enhance, not completely illuminate your design. Too much light is overwhelming and the glare will contribute to pollution. Sometimes, the “less is more” approach works wonders.
  • Selective power – You do not need to light your landscape all hours of the night. You can turn off your lights in the late hours of the evening and turn them back on at dusk the next day. Reserve your lighting for activities that take place in your yard or for special times that necessitate it.
  • Low Voltage Lighting – Any reduction in wattage will do its job to reduce light pollution. Low voltage fixtures provide enough lighting to highlight your beautiful landscape and light your porch and walkways without wasting power on bright lighting.

Creating a safe and courteous environment with your landscape lighting design is a valiant and worthwhile effort. Do your part to reduce lighting pollution and create the landscape of your dreams without negatively affecting your lives or the lives of the people surrounding you.

The Basic Elements to Creating a Beautiful Landscape Garden

Gardens do not take up much space, yet they can add life and excitement to any yard.  A garden need not be museum-ready or qualify to accompany the Queen of England’s royal tea party to be enjoyed. A garden is an extension of a homeowner’s personality and a great backdrop fit for any yard.

Gardens keep us close to nature and lift our spirits. Whether a small, potted plant or a mélange of seasonal tulips, gardens bring a sense of calm and loveliness to any outdoor space.

Many homeowners and renters throw away the idea of a garden because of space and maintenance issues. If you love exotic plants and high-priced luxuries, go for it! But if you are living on a tight budget, you can still enjoy the ambience of a pleasing garden. Fortunately, you can find many low-maintenance plants that are inexpensive and require minimal care. And small spaces are the perfect backdrop for inexpensive window boxes, potted plants or self-contained raised garden beds.

Whether your yard is large, or a small plot fit for a family brunch, the basics of creating a garden remain the same. Consider these tips before you start so you can ensure the final product matches your thoughts, hopes and dreams.


Every element of your garden should complement each other. Consider the type of flower before adding new elements. Be careful not to mix two separate design styles like a Japanese water feature with a Victorian-inspired rose trellis. If you want to add several styles into one space, separate the areas to create boundaries so that each space receives it own measure of appreciation.

Color Choice

This is your chance to really make your personality shine! Use color to add an explosion of interest to your garden. Loud colors bring the eye forward while muted colors push the eye back. Use bright colors on features you want to stand out and darker colors on those you want to serve as a creative backdrop. Be careful not to overwhelm a more relaxed garden with too much color. Consider your overall theme first.

Scale and Proportion

If you have a small ledge, you wouldn’t add a bright spotlight to illuminate your small, potted plant. In the same manner, pay attention to the scale of your garden and avoid overpowering it with elements that are too large for the space. Consider the mature height of trees as well and unite the scale of each element so the overall appearance looks unified.

Walkways and Pathways

If you have a larger garden you may need to consider the paths leading to it and around it. Remove any obstructions to paths and make room for walkways so visitors can stroll through the garden without effort.

Any outdoor space can be injected with the life a garden brings. If you need more help coming up with ideas for your space, visit your local nursery and ask a knowledgeable salesperson for advice. Bring with you a sketch of your space as well as the general outdoor style you desire.