Common Mistakes Homeowners Make in Landscape Planning

What not to do when planning your landscape!

1. Not anticipating future needs

It may seem obvious, but try to think seriously about where you will be in five 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?

2. 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.

3. Failing to be family friendly

Homeowners and landscapers alike can get carried away with all the features we want to fit into a 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.

If you are wanting plants, you can choose plants that won't outgrow their allotted space. You can use ground-covers and mulches to control weeds.

Think about how much time you want to put into your yard and plan accordingly.

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.

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 40 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 and more expensive in the end.

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 We would welcome the chance to meet and talk through your landscaping priorities.

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