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 give me (Dwayne) a call, text or email. I'd would welcome the chance to meet and talk through your landscaping priorities.

Reviews from Google

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.

KK Pinkowski


Fantastic service and fast and efficient. We are so pleased with our yard and couldn't have been happier with Dwayne and his crew. Thanks so much! Five stars all the way.

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!

Brent Richards


We heard about this company and the good work they do from a family member. We subsequently hired them to do a large interlocking brick patio and raised stone planter at the rear of our house. TheRead more … patio was large, with an intricate design. I was extremely impressed with their work, right from protecting our lawn from damage to the excellent work they did on the patio and planter. The crew was very pleasant and worked hard in very hot weather. We have already had many compliments on our new patio and planter and we will be hiring them to do a stone planter in our front yard next year. Very professional and service oriented, which is a nice trait in this day and age!