Landscaping | The ultimate guide (Updated 2019)

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Landscaping, Everything you need to know

Since the dawn of time mankind has worked the landscape to alter its purpose and looks.

It’s true, through the centuries landscaping ideas have changed a lot, in practice and in purpose.

We have come a long way since ancient times when landscaping was used as a utility to improve defences for war, or to produce food.

Now we live in an age where landscaping is no longer a matter of life or death, it is simply something we can enjoy.

From landscaping 101 to diy landscaping tips, what we call landscaping and landscape design has changed a lot.

So what are some of the landscaping techniques and landscaping tips we have learned over the years?

Today we wanted to share with you the top 13 landscaping tips you need to know!

You DO NOT want to miss #3!

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Landscaping Tip #1- Plan and Budget

Here’s the deal, you could just go with your gut feeling and start picking and choosing plants to put into your landscape. But if you plan out your landscape design and budget it properly, you can get a lot more. That is why landscaping tip number one is plan and budget!

One of the most important reasons for planning your landscape design is that you need to calculate in the costs of annual maintenance along with any landscape you plan on designing.

You will want to budget the costs of maintaining your landscape into your original budget and plan.

The last thing you want to do is install a cheap landscape that will actually be more expensive in the long run. In the end this will help save you both time and money with your landscaping.

Here are five things you need to keep ask about your landscaping plan:

  1. What needs to be watered?
  2. What needs to be cut back or deadheaded?
  3. What will need to be pruned?
  4. What plants will need to be fertilized?
  5. What plants will need to be divided or thinned out?

All of these questions will begin to give you an idea of what the long term costs of your landscape plan will be.

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Landscaping Tip #2- Use Bulbs and Seeds

This professional landscaping tip goes hand in hand with proper planning and budgeting.

Seeds and bulbs are excellent methods for covering a lot of your landscaping for very little money. Sure bulbs and seeds can take up to 6 months to come in than just planting full grown plants. But, if you can wait a few months you can save 1000’s of dollars.

It’s true. Even a cheap plant can cost $5, and may take two minutes or more to plant. Now, compare that cost with the cost of a bulb which may be about .50 cents, and takes about 30 seconds to plant. Now add in the cost of labor for planting, and multiply that number by lets say, 50.

Planting 50 bulbs in this situation took 25 minutes and had a base cost of $25.

On the other hand, all of those small plants took 2 hours to plant $250 and took over 1 and a half hours to install.

That is a difference of $225 and 1 hour of labor for planting 50 plants.

Of course it isn’t practical to plant everything from scratch. But if you use bulbs where and when you can, you can use that extra money you have saved somewhere else, say bigger and better shrubs and trees for your landscape. Now that is smart landscaping!

Some great bulbs to look for are:

  • Alliums
  • Canna Lily
  • Croucous
  • Daffodils
  • Dahlias
  • Daylilies
  • Hyacinths
  • And Tulips

Landscaping Tip #3- Know When to Use Landscape Fabric

Look, landscape fabric can either be a great investment or a huge waste of time.

That is why we had to include this point in our landscaping tips. Knowing when to use landscape fabric is crucial to DIY landscaping.

For the pros this is landscaping 101…. When do you use landscape fabric?

In most circumstances, the answer is simple, ONLY WHEN HARDSCAPING.

If you think landscape fabric is going to keep weeds out of your mulched landscape beds, you are sadly mistaken. Though it may cut down on weeds in the beginning, after a couple years weeds will just grow on top of your landscape fabric in the broken down mulch. Then they will find every crack or opening in the fabric and grow through it. When this happens, if you are weeding by hand, you are in for a tough time.

In my experience, improperly used landscape fabric is one of the biggest mistakes a DIY landscaper can make!

Often times I go to job sites, and the landscape fabric is a bigger problem than the weeds themselves. The weeds have find any crack in the fabric they can. To get the roots out properly, you end up having to pull up the fabric.

Then you will be torn between two questions: Should I just rip out the fabric? Or try to bury it again? The answer is typically, it should have never been installed in the first place.

Landscape fabric only keeps weeds from coming up through the fabric. Add any holes to place the fabric around your bushes, or throw some mulch on top, the weeds will just grow above and through the fabric.

However, when it comes to hardscaping landscape fabric is a great investment. It will eliminate most maintenance for years, even decades. When it comes to spreading expensive stone; whether it is your walkway or xeriscape, use the best landscape fabric you can get your hands on.

Landscaping Tip #4- Maintain Your Investment

This landscaping tip is crucial for preserving your investment. Maintain your investment!

Seems obvious right? Unfortunately, most people often overlook the maintenance of their landscaping. This is one of the reasons that landscaping tip #1 is so important. You want to take into consideration the cost of maintaining your investment.

Be sure to spend time calculating the maintenance costs of any landscape plan that you want to implement. Then maintain your landscape no matter what. The last thing you will want to do with your landscaping is to fail to maintain what you have installed. The cost of catching back up an unmaintained landscape is a massive problem, and it may often be more expensive than redoing your landscaping over again.

If for whatever reason you can not maintain your landscape, it is important to hire a landscaping professional. Which brings us to landscaping tip number 5.

Landscaping Tip #5- Consult With a Landscaper

Whether you plan on doing diy landscaping on a budget, or want to go all out with landscaping professionals, you should always have a landscaper on hand. In the end it WILL save you money.

Here’s the deal, almost no one can take care of all of their landscaping on their own. At least not all of the time. Eventually, you are going to want to take a vacation, or feel a bit lazy. That is why you should consult with a landscaper ahead of time.

Pay them for 30mins to an hour of their time. Familiarize them with your landscape before you need them. That way, if for whatever reason, you can not maintain your investment on your own. You already have a professional on deck that is familiar with your landscape and its unique design.

The last thing you want to do is watch your landscape investment become overgrown, and hire a landscaper at the last minute who will charge you an arm and a leg to get it back into order. Add this tip to your landscaping maintenance mindset.

Landscaping Tip #6- Use Natural Edges

This one is simple, use natural edges. Stay away from plastic borders and edges, there is a better way, and it’s free!

One of the best options when it comes to borders and edging is to go all natural.

How? Just cut a border out of your lawn!

Some of the best landscapes don’t have any added edging material at all, they are just cut out of the lawn. Unfortunately too many folks overlook the simplest edge for their garden.

To make a natural edge just mark the border you want to create. Then cut an edge with a shovel, and remove about 6 inches to form a trench of soil. This will become the edge into the landscape bed. Just be sure to fill the landscape bed with mulch.

Landscape maintenance for a natural edge is as simple as re-defining the bed edges with a shovel once or twice a year. Natural edges are a great diy landscaping design.

On the other hand, if you want to go with a nice stone or paver edge go for it, just stay away from the plastic edging. In the end, plastic edging will just get in the way.

Landscaping Tip #7- Mulch Every Year

If you are using a stone mulch, or you have a xeriscape lawn disregard this one.

Otherwise, always be sure to use a wood mulch at least once a year in the spring. This will make weeding and landscape maintenance so much easier.

But, mulching twice a year is even better....

Here’s the deal, in warmer climates, a fall mulch application will prevent weeds. In a colder climate, a fall mulch application will keep your beds a few degrees warmer through the cold months and improve your plants chances of survival.

Pro Landscaping Tip:

Never pile mulch around the base of trees, shrubs or plants, it can kill them. However, in the winter piling mulch around certain plants, such as roses, can mean the difference between life or death.

Landscaping Tip #8- Should you Buy Material in Bulk or Bags?

This one is highly dependent on your needs, and what is available in your area.

If you have a big landscape and you are doing diy landscaping on a budget you need to know this landscaping tip. Most of the time, if you need more than 3 yards of mulch or top soil, it is cheaper to find a local bulk supplier, and have them deliver it.

But, keep in mind, there is no set in stone answer for this one. There are several things to consider.

For example, when it’s on sale bagged mulch is often only a little more expensive than paying to have a bulk delivery of bulk mulch. This is important to consider because bagged mulch is much easier to carry to where it is needed, than shoveling mulch from the ground into a wheelbarrow.

Pro Landscaping Tip:

On the other hand, if you can use your truck to deliver your own bulk mulch, I would go with it. When the mulch is in the bed of your truck. And not on the ground. It is easy to move it from the truck, to the wheelbarrow.

Landscaping Tip #9- Mulch or Compost Your Clippings and Leaves

If you don’t keep your grass clippings and leaves in your property, you can say baby bye bye bye to all of those nutrients your lawn needs.

Mulching or composting your lawn's grass as well as the leaves from your trees is a great landscaping tip to keep nutrients on in your lawn. In fact, doing so may even replace an application of lawn fertilizer.

More importantly, following this landscaping tip can extend the life of pesticide and insecticide applications by keeping them in your landscape.

Landscaping Tip #10- Add Some Food Producing Trees

Look, you can have a lot of beautiful flowering trees and plants, but how many do you have which produce free food?!

Add some food producing trees to your landscape!

Following this landscaping tip you can save money, and provide an abundance of food to your family and friends. All of those benefits, without having to do anything but collect the food!

Some great food producing trees which you can use in your landscaping include:

  • Pecan
  • Walnut
  • Fig
  • Pear
  • Apple

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Landscaping Tip #11- Use Organic Fertalizers

Most folks don’t know this, but using organic lawn fertilizers is one of the best landscaping tips which you can follow. This landscaping tip is crucial if you really want to make the most of your landscaping.

Why is organic fertilizer superior to synthetic?

Organic fertilizers take the whole plant environment into account. Unlike synthetic fertilizers which can kill off beneficial bacteria and plant fungi, organic fertilizers feed them. In return this microbiome helps your landscape to get the most out of each future fertilizer application.

It’s true that any good NPK fertilizer can help your lawn, but when there isn’t enough organic material in the fertilizer or a strong presence of beneficial bacteria present in the soil, most of those nutrients unfortunately wash away with the rain.

However, the beneficial bacteria and fungi feed by the organic fertilizer helps your plants capture all of the NPK nutrients present in the soil through a process known as chelation. Delivering nutrients directly to your plants.

Landscaping Tip #12- Test Your Soil

Don’t waste compost or fertilizer on soil that doesn’t need it. When in doubt about your landscapes health.Test the soil.

Testing the soil will ensure you can get just the right amount of the nutrients your landscape needs.

Get this, this landscaping tip can save you a lot of money on unnecessary fertilizers which can really add up in cost. Best of all, many cooperative college extensions will test your soil free of charge.

If you are the DIY type, you can buy a soil test kit for about $30 and test the soil yourself.

Landscaping Tip #13- How is Your Landscape Impacting Your Environment?

This final landscaping tip should be taken into consideration anytime you are planning landscape changes. Though this tip may be more popularly known and simply described as feng shui, it really has practical real life uses.

Most people don’t think about this, but your landscaping doesn’t just look amazing, and improve your property value. It also impacts your environment. I’m not just talking about wildlife either.

Think about it, a hedge of bushes along the roadside not only improves privacy, it also dampers the sound of passing cars on the road.

But that is not all. Placing the right landscaping around your house can limit direct sunlight on your home. This can lead to a cooler house in the summertime and lower electric bills. Or perhaps if you are in a colder climate, you may want to make sure that your landscape allows as much light as possible to hit your home to keep your home warmer in the winter.

The impact on your environment, local climate and quality of life is just something that not enough people take into account when it comes to their landscaping. Be sure to follow this landscaping tip with your landscape, especially if you plan on living in your home for many years to come.

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The Bottom Line on the Top Landscaping Tips

There are a lot of landscaping tips to keep in mind when working to make your landscape the way you have always dreamt it to be. Consider these 13 tips when designing or adding to your properties landscaping.

These landscaping tips can help you avoid some of the mistakes we have made over the years. Best of all you will get much more out of your landscaping if you do keep these tips in mind.

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