8 Mistakes Homeowners Make in Planning Their Landscapes

by Dwayne Regehr

What not to do when planning your landscape!

1. Under-estimating costs of plants – Like building a house, the creation of your dream landscape can be costly. We all expect patios to be one of the more expensive parts of the plan but homeowners are often surprised by the cost of plants. It may be tempting to find a "great deal" at one of the big box stores, but that deal won't be so great when a plant dies and is not covered by a guarantee. At Earthworks, we will make sure you're getting quality products and find a way to make it all fit into your budget.

2. Not anticipating future needs – It may seem obvious, but try to think seriously about where you will be in 5 years time and what your needs will be then. If you are considering a hot tub in the future, we can make sure your deck or patio is built so that it can support that weight. If a pool is in your future, let's not plant extensive gardens that will have to be torn out in a few short years. Planting trees actually requires a fair amount of careful forethought and can do a lot for you if placed strategically. Where you would like shade in the future? What views you would like to preserve or block?

3. Failing to be family friendly – Homeowners and landscape designers alike can get carried away with all the features we want to fit into your back yard, sometimes forgetting that what you need most is a simple patch of open grass for the kids play on.

4. Overlooking maintenance – Creating a beautiful outdoor space is one thing, maintaining it is another. A well-built patio is nearly maintenance-free. Lawns require some moderate effort. Gardens can be either a lot of work or they can be very easy to care for. Know how much time you can put into your yard and plan accordingly. For example, if you are wanting plants, choose plants that won't outgrow their allotted space and use ground-covers and mulches to control weeds.

5. Poor plant choice – This relates to the previous point about maintenance. Gardens and plants can consume a lot of your time. If you love gardening, this can be a wonderful thing! Pruning and shaping trees and shrubs can be a therapeutic activity. Some people get great pleasure from playing in the garden, moving and dividing perennials, poring over garden catalogues and deciding what annuals to put in next spring. But if you are short on time, it can become an overwhelming chore. You can plan your gardens accordingly. Know what environment plants need to thrive, and consider the mature size of trees and shrubs. That little 4 foot blue spruce may fit perfectly into a corner of your garden today, but what happens 20 years from now when it is 30 feet tall and covers half your patio?

6. Making the patio too small – This may seem like biased advice coming from the guy that specializes in the design and construction of residential patios. But in 30 years of doing this work I have never had a client say to me at the end of a project, "We should have made the patio a bit smaller". Patios are a primary outdoor living space and they fulfill a wide range of roles – kitchen, dining room, living room. How do you plan to use your patio? Make sure you can accommodate the different functions.

7. Neglecting curb appeal – We tend to focus our energy on the back yard. This is where we barbecue, eat and play. But with a little attention your front door can make a powerful impression. It doesn't have to be complicated: Have a welcoming front walkway, keep the grass neat and add a flash of color in the gardens. Done!

8. Not having a plan! – Without a master plan to guide the work on your yard the results are likely to be haphazard. Trees will get planted, then moved. One year's work will get undone in the next. Know how much work you can realistically put into your yard. Know how you plan to use your yard. With a plan in place you will know if this can be done all at once or if it is a 5-year project. That plan will also allow you to get meaningful quotes from 2 or 3 contractors if you need some help making it a reality.

If you could use some help on your landscape plan, please feel free to send us an email at dwayne@earthworkslandscaping.ca. We would welcome the chance to meet and talk through your landscaping priorities.

Reviews from Google

Karen Jones


Very happy with the experience. The thought and care given to the creative side of our sidewalk and patio design was much appreciated and impressive. Dwayne took time to find out our style-then madeRead more … great suggestions on how our cobbles could flow to create the look we wanted. This was very important to me. The job came in on-time, on budget, and is gorgeous. I also very much appreciate the follow up from Earthworks to ensure the flagstone has remained properly seated. I highly recommend Earthworks if you're looking for excellent craftsmanship and not a "kit install" - you will get something unique and creative from from Dwayne and his team.

Mark Vokey


Dwayne came to our home about a month ago, saw what we wanted done, gave us a quote and indicated it would be around 6 weeks before they could get to it. In about 5 weeks he called to indicate thatRead more … they would begin the next day at 8. They were on time, did a great job, in extreme heat & humidity and the end cost was as quoted. Needless to say I enjoy working with people who are on time, honest and do professional work - Earthworks Landscaping covers off all of these important points for me.

Keith Johnston


We thoroughly enjoyed working with Dwayne and his team. His knowledge and expertise provided the perfect conclusion to our summer yard overhaul project. We would strongly recommend Earthworks forRead more … your next landscaping project. You won't be disappointed.

Carl Hrenchuk


Earthworks does a thoroughly professional job from the design stage forward through to the completed project. Super attention to both the look and function of the project, as well as prompt serviceRead more … at the quoted price, supported by a great warranty. Couldn't recommend more highly!