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Ten Mistakes to Avoid in Designing Your Landscape

We've gotten calls from customers in Aldie, Arlington, and Woodbridge, Virginia — as well as many from Chevy Chase, Maryland – asking us to solve a number of landscaping dilemmas. Thus, we've come up with this list of 10 mistakes to be avoided in home landscape design. The mistakes covered range from miscalculations that have practical ramifications to more subtle errors that negatively impact your enjoyment of your home landscape design. Hopefully this will help you as you plan your yard and garden:

1. Failure to have a plan

This will keep you working toward your goal of a beautiful yard and garden.

2. Having a lawn just because “everyone else does”

Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming that having a grassy area in the yard designated as "the lawn" is somehow an obligatory part of home landscape design. But historically speaking, the lawn as we know it is a relatively recent introduction to landscaping. For those not attracted to that rather monotonous "green carpet" look or who dislike having to mow grass every week, it's important to know that other acceptable options exist, especially for small spaces. Whose yard is it, anyhow?

3. Insufficient fall color in your design

Spring and summer receive most of our attention when it comes to planting. Unfortunately, it's easy to forget to plant for fall. Yet the fall season holds enormous promise for those landscaping enthusiasts willing to plan for it. Don't allow your home landscape design to miss out on the colors offered by autumn's bounty! Ask us for list of shrubs and vines with standout fall foliage.

4. Lack of winter interest in your design

If the fall season is often neglected in home landscape design, matters stand twice as bad with the winter season. Yet here in the Northern Virginia area, it is precisely in wintertime that we most need a yard decor that will bring us cheer. We'll be happy to work with you to color-up your dull winter landscape.

5. Failure to irrigate

Many of us face a dilemma: we enjoy having plants in our yards, but we also like to travel during the summer. So how do the plants get watered while we're gone? Sometimes a friend or relative can come to the rescue, but why chance it? There's a lot tied up in your home landscape design, both in terms of money and sentimental value. But don't ditch your travel plans! Consider installing an automatic irrigation system in your home landscape design.

6. Planting on a hillside prone to erosion

Do you have a steep slope in your yard? Is it tough to retain your topsoil there during a heavy rain? Have you tried growing your favorite plants there to no avail? The problem is that you failed to fix your erosion problem prior to planting. Think about having a retaining wall first, then do your planting afterwards.

7. Failure to work with what you have

Do you have a rocky yard? A yard with a lot of shade? Or perhaps your yard's problem is a punishing summertime heat that scorches all in its path? Sometimes you can successfully fight the terrain you inherit in your yard, as in the case of building retaining walls for slopes to fight erosion. Other times, instead of fighting it, it's better to go with the flow and work with what you have. The key is to know what you're up against and what options you have.

8. Failure to incorporate deer-resistant plants in your design

You may think you've arrived at the ideal home landscape design. You meticulously drew up a plan and stuck to it. The soil is fertile, you've installed automatic irrigation, you've followed directions faithfully in planting your specimens, and you've applied a generous layer of mulch around them. But you come out of the house one day — and find your plants in shreds! What happened? You forgot one thing: deer can make a snack of your plants in the blink of an eye.

9. Not keeping your tools in order

The surest way to get little done in the yard is to realize you need a tool — only to find that you can't find it! If you don't have enough storage space, chances are your tools will all be jammed into one small area (perhaps a corner of the garage), making it tough to keep the area accessible and the tools organized. What you need is an organized storage area. The longer you put off getting adequate storage, the longer you'll be disorganized — and the further you'll fall behind in your yard work.

10. Forgetting functionality in home landscape design

When one thinks about home landscape design, it is aesthetic considerations that immediately come to mind. Functionality, however, takes precedence over aesthetics. There is no reason you shouldn't be able to have both; but when push comes to shove, one needs to be more concerned that a home landscape design is safe, convenient and usable.