Your landscaper won’t probably give you his trade secrets or else he’ll run out of business, but here are ten things he secretly wants you to know (but will probably never tell):
1. Ditch the weed fabric; weeds will still grow on top of it no matter how many layers you use.
We all hate weeds and the truth is, even if weed fabric is advertised to help control its growth, it really doesn’t. Weeds grow on soil, it’s an inconvenience we all have to live with (but luckily, we can do something about).
2. Your garden doesn’t need as much fertilizers as you think.
It really isn’t healthy for your garden to get lawn fertilizers because they contain 30% nitrogen – way too much dose for them to get. Look for ones that contain time-releasing water-insoluble nitrogen and just use them twice a year. Do you want to do without fertilizers? Spend money on irrigation. Well-irrigated lawns don’t need as much fertilizer.
3. You really don’t have to bag those leaves.
Bagging leaves isn’t as enjoyable as simply mowing the lawn. Next time you use the lawnmower, ditch the mower bag. If the grass clippings aren’t that high or many, leave them. They become food for earthworms and microbes that help make your lawn healthy. Another benefit is this – when those grass clippings break down, they will help limit weeds from popping up.
4. Yes, there is such a thing as overwatering your lawn.
It’s quite normal for us to experience clients who spend thousands of dollars on great landscapes for their lawns and yet neglect watering them. However, it’s as much a crime as overwatering. Here’s a trade secret: Remember an inch of water once a week is ideal, maybe once in five days when it’s really hot, depending on your soil. Infrequent watering encourages roots to grow deeper so they can find groundwater. These makes for stronger plants in the long run.
5. Flowers are pretty but they don’t have to fill every inch of your lawn.
Here’s the thing, flowers are pretty. They contribute greatly to your lawn’s aesthetic appeal. But you don’t have to fill every corner with them. You will have a weeding and pruning nightmare next season if you do.
Design tip: Plan what flowers you want to use. Look at a color wheel. It’s a great way to choose garden flowers. Generally, colors that are opposite each other in the wheel look great together. Once you have decided on what you love, always buy more than one. Plant them in clusters in an odd number and repeat throughout your landscape area. This creates a unifying effect.
Trade secret: Plant nurseries still sell Lythrum salicaria, commonly known as purple loose-strife. It’s inexpensive and gorgeous but it really is an invasive flower that spreads everywhere and chokes out your other plants. Don’t buy it.
6. Before doing anything else, have your soil tested.
We try to advise our clients that it’s best for us to know what soil we are working with so we can advise the best approach we need to take as well what plants would thrive or if we need additional treatments. We don’t know what’s in your soil just by looking or feeling it with our own hands – at least not extensively. Find out what nutrients your soil needs first: Dig six to seven inches deep, have two cups worth of dirt into sample bags and send them off to your local agricultural agency to have it tested.
Trade secret: The pretty red mulch you are attracted to? It has been found to contain arsenic and other chemicals that can be harmful and toxic to your children. It can also seep in and contaminate your soil.
7. It’s not all about the view.
Sure, your house value increases by 15% with a great landscaped area. Nothing beats a great first impression, seeing how nice everything looks from the street. But don’t forget it needs to be functional too. Bushes and spruce trees planted at your driveway may look nice but can block your view of incoming traffic – so keep your line of sight clear. Also, make sure your landscape view is as great from the inside as well from outside. You don’t want your flowerbeds or trees blocking windows, do you?
8. If you are going to do it yourself, do it right. Hire someone to do the design and install it yourself in phases.
We understand if you are on a budget, but doing it yourself can be more expensive in the long run when you are making mistakes that wouldn’t even happen if your hired us in the first place. And yes, you can always refer to Pinterest for ideas but it doesn’t necessarily mean you can transform ideas from paper that easily. Hire a landscape designer, at least do that much at the beginning.
9. Think past the landscape installation.
It can be easy to get carried away with nice landscape design ideas. But think about these things:
- The landscape design you choose or want might necessitate the increased application of herbicides. So choose wisely.
- Think long term. When you are done paying the bills for the landscape installation, do you have the necessary budget (or even manpower or knowledge) to have it maintained? Maintenance is something most clients don’t even think of. Landscaped areas need more maintenance than your house – plants (and weeds) grow faster than your roof needs repainting.
10. You get what you pay for.
Yes, I might be charging you 25% more than other landscape artists you have inquired from. But I am worth every penny. You can always do it yourself but remember I will be charging more to fix mistakes (wrong irrigation, visually unappealing flower beds, rewiring electrical lights, etc) than starting from scratch.