Do you want a landscape that exudes beauty and seasonal interest no matter the time of year? Would you like an outdoor space that you can use season after season to engage in your favorite hobbies and passions? Do you wish the view from your living room window was as stunning as the one from the street in front of your house?
The good news is that all of that can be true if you follow some simple design principles and avoid the mistakes that can derail even an expensive project.
In a prior post we talked about some common design mistakes and what to do instead. Today we’re expanding on those concepts and sharing a few more items to add to your “don’t do” list, along with ideas for how you should approach your project instead.
Let’s face it: some pollinators just don’t make it onto anyone’s Top Ten list of favorite wildlife. Bees, wasps, and bats… lost of people spend time trying to rid their property of these “pests”, without realizing that it could be a huge mistake.
Of course you don’t want a huge bee’s nest beside your patio or garage door, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them – or worse, exterminate them!
Everything from your herb and vegetable garden to the flower blooms you hold so dear rely on pollinators to survive and thrive. In fact, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your morning coffee, or a fresh summer tomato, or the scent of lavender without pollinators.
Instead of shooing them off, you should be inviting them to stay instead. Start by planting flowers that are attractive to pollinators. The more variety, the more likely you are to invite some of your favorite pollinators – many kinds of birds, including hummingbirds, and butterflies, too.
Offer them housing so they can find shelter that doesn’t include the inside lid of your trash bin or a spot under you roof gutters. Insects aren’t picky – a hollow stalk of bamboo, the holes in a cement block, or a crate filled with straw and twigs will do. Birds will enjoy a house or two, and climbing vines are popular.
Done right, you can peacefully coexist even with your least favorite pollinators and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Not Planning For Pets
We’re big fans of the lawn-less landscape, where low-maintenance wildflowers, natural stone gardens, tall grasses and lively koi ponds take the place of labor-intensive, greedy green grass. But if you have pets, we encourage you to consider how they’ll feel about your plans.
Dogs in particular need a place to run and play, and you may not always be inclined to run over to the nearest dog park for some fun with Fido.
But perhaps even more importantly, some plants are downright deadly for pets. You may adore lilies, for example, but their pollen can easily be transferred to your cat’s fun and become fatal if ingested during grooming. On the other hand, dogs, who are known to eat just about anything, can be in danger from azaleas, chrysanthemum and rhododendron.
Before you work on your landscape or start sowing the seeds of your favorite plants, be sure to consider those that can cause harm to your furry family members, and plan accordingly. There are so many gorgeous and safe plants that you’ll never miss the ones you don’t have.
Neglecting The View
Of course you want a great view! That’s what landscaping is all about, isn’t it? But we don’t just mean the view from the street, or even the view while you’re immersed in the natural beauty of your yard. We mean all of the views – including the one from the windows of your home.
It may seem counterintuitive to think about the inside of your home while you’re planning the outside, but you do spend a substantial part of your life in there! And wouldn’t you love to gaze out the window of your kitchen, living room, bedroom, or family room onto a lovely, peaceful scene?
Unless you plan for a great view, you could be placing landscape elements in locations that won’t maximize your enjoyment. Imagine a thriving pond full of water lilies and lotus, brimming with fish and frogs, graced by the delightful sight and sound of a bubbling waterfall.
Now imagine the only place you can enjoy all that beauty is if you walk down to the back end of your yard.
A smarter idea would be to place the pond where you can enjoy it from inside and out – whether you’re lounging in the yard or hanging out on the sofa on a rainy day.
When you consider the view from every possible angle, you’ll end up with a space that brings you more enjoyment, more often.
Too Much Color
Believe it or not, you can have too much of a good thing. You may love every color of the rainbow but planting them all can be a recipe for disharmony. Too many colors don’t give your eye a chance to rest, and don’t create the sense of cohesion that is so important in any space.
Create a color palette that works for you – whether you prefer the soothing colors of cool blues and purples, or the energizing colors of reds and yellows. Try complementary colors – those on opposite sides of the color wheel – if you love contrast. Blue and orange, for example, bring out the intensity in each other. Think pink and green, or purple and yellow.
Color has the ability to make a space feel larger or smaller, calmer or more lively, and can even affect your mood. So whatever you choose, choose wisely to create the tone you want and offer an experience you can enjoy.
You may be attracting bees, birds and butterflies with your choice of plants, but you could be attracting other wildlife, too – and that could mean woe for your garden. We’re talking about deer, those cute, fluffy-tailed critters that are munching machines when it comes to garden favorites like pansies, roses and hosta.
If you live near a wooded area or your yard is frequented by these four-legged friends, then be careful that you’re not planting a buffet instead of a garden. Choose beautiful and deer-resistant options like butterfly bush, hummingbird mint, coneflower and fountain grass. They may not be 100% deer-proof, but you’re much more likely to wake up and find they’re still there than those tulips you love so much.
Since colorful flowers are attractive to deer in general, you may be able to hide some of your favorites among a few bitter options. Once a deer tastes something unpleasant, it will be less likely to return for more.
Not Putting Your Lifestyle Front And Center
So your yard looks great from inside the house and out. You love every petal and stone, the deer are at bay and the hummingbirds are regular visitors.
But can you use you space?
Your landscape shouldn’t just be a showpiece. It should be a space where you can spend time enjoying the beauty of nature. So before you lay a patio stone or plant a flower or dig a single hole, take some time to consider how you want to use the space.
Whether you want to relax with your morning coffee or favorite book, entertain half the neighborhood or enjoy a small dinner with family, indulge your green thumb with an herb garden, play games, toast marshmallows, meditate, work out, or something else – build for that!
It’s easy to plan around your lifestyle – from patios and pools to kitchens, fire pits, seating areas, playgrounds and more. It’s not so easy to wedge yourself into a space that was not designed with you and your family in mind.
Tuck these tips under your hat and pull them out at your master planning consultation, and you’ll be far more likely to end up with a yard – front, back or side! – that looks great and works for the way you live.
If you want to explore options for creating an outdoor space that you can enjoy throughout every season and for many years into the future, book a consultation and let’s talk about what you’re imagining. We’ll work with you to design and build a space that will make all your dreams come true.