Costly Mistakes in Gardening Design That Homeowners Make

Over the years, I’ve redesigned many landscapes that started as beautiful gardens but became boring because of simple design mistakes. Learn to spot these common garden blunders, and you’ll have a much more beautiful landscape. Garden design is a complex business. It involves creativity, practicality and consideration for the environment and local climate.

Not Planning

There are lots of ways to make a garden more interesting. Some quick fixes – a few flowers or colorful ornaments can lift a dull green. Others are more structural changes and require more time and money. One mistake people often make is changing the garden without a plan. It can lead to a disjointed look that doesn’t flow. It also makes it easier to make mistakes. For example, if you plant a tree without considering its height and root size, you could have trouble with it later. Its roots might wreak havoc with foundations, wood decking or even concrete driveways. To assist you in acquiring straight lines and proper angles, you should always mark your design on the ground with a string strung between stakes or a garden hose (warmed up in the sun beforehand). You should also create a system of pathways to access your beds. Narrow paths quickly become crowded with plants, so choosing the choosier option is best. Then, if your plans change, you have something to refer back to.

Not Using Borders

A common mistake people make when designing their garden is not using borders. Borders are a great way to create a sense of journey through the space and help break up large lawn areas. They also make it much easier to mow and tend to your planting, as the edging helps to keep grass out of your flowers and weeds out of the growing area. Another common error is to consider your immediate conditions when choosing plants. Although a plant might be suitable for your climate zone, it may not thrive in your location due to soil type or the sunlight it gets. It’s critical to measure the PH of your soil and select plants that will flourish there. Designing a garden is a complex task, and it can be easy to get sidetracked by new ideas or trends that don’t fit with your home or the style of the garden. However, hiring landscape architects and designers in Los Altos will help you avoid common mistakes and ensure your garden is as beautiful as possible.

Not Making the Most of Your Space

It might be tempting to overcrowd your garden with older trees, shrubs, and perennials that, while beautiful when first planted, will quickly outgrow their boundaries. Not planning for this in advance can lead to overcrowded spaces, which require regular pruning or replanting, and ultimately be unmanageable and expensive to maintain. Another common mistake is using only part of the space on your property. Treating the garden and house as separate areas can create a disjointed feel. For example, a rambling country cottage garden would not work well with the clean lines of a modern townhouse. It is also important to consider your garden’s direction, as it can influence where you want to sit and how long the sun shines in certain parts of the garden. Knowing this will help you decide whether to create a shaded area or place a table for entertaining where you can enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

Not Taking Care of Your Plants

New gardeners often plant too much in their giddy excitement. The resulting flower beds and veggie patches end up overcrowded, with plants competing for space and resources. These plants must also be watered frequently and are more likely to struggle with pests and diseases. Another mistake is filling your garden with decorative statues and lawn ornaments. A few gnomes or garden angels can add a touch of whimsy to your landscape, but too many can be overpowering and take away from the overall look of your garden. Lastly, it’s easy to forget that your landscape should not just look good, but it should also function well for you and your family. Failing to consider how your garden will be used can lead to mistakes such as planting a flowerbed where your children play or a tree planted too close to the house that could eventually cause foundation issues. These design mistakes can be avoided by ensuring that a garden’s functions are considered from all angles. 

Treating Your Garden as a Separate Area

Over time it’s easy for gardeners to end up with a mashup of plants that don’t go together. This mistake can be solved by planning the planting at the design stage. Whether it’s a wild Mediterranean theme featuring lavender drifts or modern front garden ideas with sculptural planting in blocks, the correct plant selection is key to the success of your garden. Cramming in a pick-and-mix of all your favorite flowers without a plan will generate an incoherent aesthetic. Instead, choose a palette of colors that work well together and try to stick with them, using the color wheel for guidance. A garden tends to ‘feel right’ when there is a balance between mass (such as trees and buildings) and ‘void’ (such as lawn or borders). Introducing a mix of built elements and evergreen planting into your design will ensure the garden works for the year. Discreet lighting can also enhance planting at night, bringing a magical feel to your garden.