3 Things Landscape Pros Want All Homeowners To Know
Some homeowners revamp their landscape for curb appeal. Others do it because their landscape needs a new, updated look. Whatever the reason, updating landscaping is a must-do job for every homeowner. It’s also one of those DIY home projects that can quickly turn from “I’ll have this done before lunch” to “It’s 2 weeks later and I’m still not done.”
So how do you protect your time (and your budget) from landscape projects getting out of hand? You do what the pros do. Here are 3 things professional landscapers want all homeowners to know about keeping their landscape project under control.
#1 Know the Rules and Regulations
Imagine spending hours and hours creating the landscape of your dream, only to find out that you have to rip it all out because it violates a bylaw. Brutal. Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often.
To avoid a fine, fee, or undoing all of your hard work, make sure you know what organizations, associations, or governing bodies have a say in your landscaping, and their rules and regulations.
The most common organization that can have a significant “say” in your landscaping is your Homeowners Association (HOA). Typical HOA rules include:
- Furniture and Decoration Limitations. This rule is for both aesthetic and functional purposes. HOAs are concerned with the appeal of the neighborhood as a whole so any decor or furniture needs to align to the overall aesthetic. Additionally, stagnant or broken water features could attract insects.
- Plant Palette Approval. An HOA will most likely have a “look” that brings the neighborhood together; they want plants to complement each other, not clash with each other. This rule is also to prevent homeowners from unknowingly planting an invasive species.
- Tree Removal Permission. Trees are expensive and they add value to a community. HOAs typically require permission to remove a tree to ensure it is a valid reason and done so correctly.
- Permanent Structures and Hardscape Approval. If your landscape design involves something that will be affixed to the property, such as fencing, hardscaping, etc., your HOA may require that you submit a design for approval. HOAs will typically have limitations on materials, colors, and methods used to implement your permanent project.
Homes also have setback regulations. These are distances the house must be from property lines. Setbacks also allow for access to utilities and distance between properties. These regulations dictate where things can be planted, hardscaped, paved, or installed.
By knowing and understanding all of the rules and regulations that could impact your landscape project, you are saving yourself time and money from fines, fees, and redoing your work.
#2 Know How Much Maintenance You are Willing To Do
There is no shortage of landscaping maintenance. Most lawns require regular mowing and edging, insect and pest control, and seasonal planting and cleanup. With all this in mind, many homeowners choose to focus on landscape plans that reduce or mitigate these tasks.
You can significantly reduce the amount of maintenance required by planning ahead for the maintenance you are willing to do for the long term. Here are a few tips and tricks professional do to minimize landscape maintenance:
- Automate lawn and garden bed watering with timers and soaker hoses for irrigation systems. This reduces time spent manually watering your lawn and landscape.
- Use Colmet steel landscape edging to keep mulch, gravel, and ground cover exactly where it needs to be so you don’t have to constantly clean up garden materials.
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- Choose resilient, drought-resistant plants that don’t require heavy trimming or treatments.
- When in doubt, choose mulch. Mulch is a quick and easy ground cover option that suppresses weeds and reduces your watering needs.
Understanding what maintenance you are willing to do will help you create a realistic plan for your landscape project without forcing yourself into years and years of back-breaking yard work.
#3 Have Your Soil Tested
Different plants need different nutrients in their soil. Whether you are starting from scratch in a new home or revamping a tired landscape, it’s important to understand the soil that you’re working with. The last thing you want to do is get your heart set on beautiful (and pricey) hydrangea bushes for your front garden, only to find out they are incompatible with your soil. It’s an expensive error.
The best way to ensure you are spending your plant budget on the right greenery is soil testing. A soil test can reveal the nutrient profile and structure of the soil by measuring its chemical and physical attributes. This can help you identify the ideal plants for your soil as well as catch deficiencies before they wreak havoc on what is already planted.
Common elements of soil tests include:
- Organic matter
Local garden centers, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menards have DIY soil testing kits and other resources for soil testing. Contact them for instructions on taking a sample and getting testing underway.
The Pros Say “Plan!”
There is one thing all 3 of these professional landscaping tips have in common: planning. The more you plan and prepare your landscape project, the more efficient you can be with your time and budget. You need to know the rules and regulations you need to follow, understand the amount of ongoing maintenance you are willing to do, and test your soil.