Gardening 101

Top 10 Landscape Mistakes

There are very few rules in landscape execution that apply to all, but there are some dos and don’ts that many professionals will warn you of before making a costly mistake.

Here are just a few pitfalls to avoid.

1. Do not plant a tree in line with the front door and the street. This physically divides the view of the house from the street and literally leaves you with a house divided. This may not be significant if your entire front yard is a woodland garden.

2. Nothing should be planted until you know the mature size of each plant. A shrub that grows ten feet tall placed below a windowsill four feet off the ground will require substantial maintenance.

3. Undersized front walkways leave guests with no option but to line up single file as they make their way to your front door. A walkway with a width of at least 42 inches wide allows a couple to walk side by side. Larger scale homes may require more spacious walks.

4. Don’t plant on the property line. Determine the mature width of the plant, divide by two and add a little extra. This is how far away you should position the plant so it grows only on your property.

5. Large expansive lawns of turf grass will require untold resources of water and fertilizer, and contribute to noise and atmosphere pollution from constant mowing. Separate the turf expanse with planting beds, pedestrian paths and kids play spaces.

6. High maintenance plants can sap your energy and enthusiasm. Research every plant you purchase to assure it has optimum growing conditions.

7. Don’t build any form of water feature without a full understanding of the maintenance required. A mosquito resort typically appears with neglect of water in the landscape.

8. Railroad ties and other unnecessary bed edging materials detract from the plants and create additional maintenance. Beds can be lined with a non-spreading plant or you can prepare mulch in such a way that it will maintain a tidy edge.

9. Don’t let weeds get out of control unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Make sure that you get rid of the weed before it sets seed.

10. Don’t plant in your existing soil without first conducting a soil test analysis. Our typically acid soil is great for some plants, but for optimum consumption of soil nutrients most plants desire a Ph of 6.5-7.

Hoyt Bangs, a Raleigh native and landscape designer is owner of WaterWise Garden Design. You may reach him at

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