Design — published on August 29, 2010

Tricks to help you landscape like a pro

Professional landscapers have a lot of tricks which can help your own DIY landscaping projects. The basic concept is planning, and working smarter, not harder. That can also provide a lot of real dollar value, so much that you can buy a swimming pool with the money you save. You can spend time figuring out what sort of pool cleaner you want, not how to untie your shoulder muscles from all the hard physical labor.

1. How to landscape without doing anything at all

Start with a basic check on your property by asking yourself some very basic questions:

(a) What do you want to keep? The things you really love are excellent landscape content. They’re meaningful parts of your idea. You can literally design your whole landscape around these priceless features. These highly valued things are also good quality control, and will assist in your landscape design concept.

(b) What doesn’t need doing? This question alone will pay for your swimming pool. There’s a tendency to slash and burn in DIY landscaping, based on the theory that everything must be landscaped “on principle”. Wrong. A nice bit of lawn or a little tree can easily be incorporated into a good landscape design. The amount of unnecessary work also blows out your time frames, costs and patience, not always in that order.

2. Planning your landscape concept

The classic mistake of home landscaping is to work without a real vision for the concept. This can lead to a lot of hard work and problems when landscaping ideas clash with each other. A fountain may be planned with no idea of how to ensure the water supply because there’s now a miniature forest planted where the pipes need to go.

The best option is to start with a general concept. What do you want to include in your landscape? You’ve already got the things you want to keep, so use them as a basis for your design.

For example:

    The beautiful tree you’re keeping needs a birdbath and a rockery with roses?

  • How about a reflecting pool to go with the birdbath?
  • A little round the garden path, following the features?

You’ve already got half your plan, and some leads for the rest.

3. The more thought, the better your design.

The key to the most beautiful landscapes is content, not masochism. The fabulous landscaping you see in the big lifestyle magazines is quality based design. Some of them are big places, but you’ll notice the landscapes are all simply and well laid out at their basic design levels.

4. The “How” factor

Always ask “how” you’re going to do your landscaping. If a feature looks costly or difficult, check your options before you spend a single cent. There’s always a way of achieving what you want, and it should be simple, cheap, and easy. If it’s not, keep looking.

Professional landscapers use the simplest, most cost-effective designs and construction methods. That’s why landscaping is one of the highest paid of all professions. It’s so good you can start picking your pool pump while you’re planning your own personal paradise.