Landscaping doesn't have to intimidate you. The key is knowing the difference between simple landscaping ideas you can handle on your own and those that need a professional's touch. If you're determined to have a gorgeous house inside and out, one of your best solutions is to work with a landscape architect to create a plan for your house. Then you can DIY, hiring professionals for things you're not comfortable with like a hardscape patio.
Some of the most stunning gardens are so simple that anyone could do it. And some that look wild and unkempt, require a deep understanding of horticulture which a landscape architect has. What I like best about working with them is they tell you what plants to use and where to place them for sunlight, irrigation, etc.
Working with a Landscape Architect
Most builders include basic landscaping with their new houses … but they don't care about the resilience of the plants. My builder, Richmond American Homes, allowed their landscaper to plant magnolia trees too close to the house, 40 houses actually. They all need to be moved before the roots start breaking up the slab underneath, really!
My first experience working with a landscape architect was in California. We had 1/3 acre of scrub brush and no idea what types of plants would work as we'd just moved from New York. He was an older Japanese man and he was very patient with us. He gave us simple landscaping ideas that needed less irrigation because we used native plants for the hill that wouldn't need anything but natural rainfall.
Here's what that house looks like now (below). My husband and I extended the builder deck that came with the house, to give us more outdoor living space to enjoy the views. We installed an irrigation system and the lawn (used sod) plus the flower beds (and a small vegetable garden) surrounding the lawn. The nursery where our landscape architect worked installws the shrubs … which are now pretty tall trees, LOL.
Here are the benefits of working with an experienced landscape architect. They'll help you achieve your goals starting with your budget to spending more/less time maintaining your home's plants and shrubs, once it's done. They can also offer advice on the difficulty and cost of certain features like a deck, patio, irrigation system or retaining walls … helping you decide on the simple landscaping projects you can do yourself, and those where it will pay to hire a pro.
- They know which plants will work well with your home, when fully grown.
- You'll save money by buying the right number of plants for a mature garden in … five years.
- You'll use little/no irrigation to maintain your landscaping.
- You'll minimize maintenance time and costs, to maintain your landscaping.
- You'll get a unique design that has what you love like the lilac trees surrounding my deck in New Hampshire, so one was blooming from spring through the summer.
- You can create your garden in stages to fit your budget, both time and money.
Simple Landscaping Ideas for Lighting
If there's anything prettier than a nice garden, it could only be the same garden illuminated by landscape lighting. It's great for enjoying the garden at night, and also for entertaining outdoors. Landscaping jobs with lots of lighting may require a professional if they're complicated, while some you can do on your own. (Read: Top 15 Landscape Trends)
If you want built-in lights throughout the garden that are hardwired, you might want to consult a professional. But you can get a similar look using individual solar lights. They simply push into the soil, and light up automatically once the sun goes down. One drawback to solar lights – they're not always as bright as electric ones.
Simply Landscaping Ideas Can Be DIY or Best with Pros
If you already have large rocks and other garden anchors, you've got your landscape foundation in place. But if you want new areas such as a retaining wall, stone garden path, oversize rocks, water features, and maybe even a deck or patio, you'll want to talk with a pro.
Hauling large items is difficult enough on its own. But placing them in just the right spot takes an eye for landscaping design. And when it comes to building a desk, setting a patio, and installing a water feature, your local building code probably has regulations that must be followed.
Simple Landscaping Jobs Can Be Just as Nice
If you don't want to hire a professional but do want to improve your property, there are plenty of simple landscaping options that you can handle on your own. With landscaping fabric to cut down on weeding, and mulch to conserve water, your lawn can look as tidy and well-kept as anyone else's. (Read: 5 Simple Landscaping Ideas in Time for Memorial Day)
Flowers lining a walkway or across the front of the house add color to your curb appeal, and they're simple enough to plant and maintain. Annuals let you switch out plants each year to try something new. Low-growing perennials, such as phlox, fill in more and more all the time, and bloom anew each year. Evergreen perennials, such as creeping juniper, give you color year round. And of course a few well-placed shrubs, such as boxwood, add texture and dimension.
Informal & Simple Landscaping Ideas Can Fool You
Cottage gardens look dreamy, with all of their dots of color and staggered heights and textures. But while these gardens might look wild and free growing, they can be some of the most challenging gardens to maintain. It takes a special touch to begin with, so you might save time overall by starting these landscaping jobs with a pro.
Cottage gardens are designed to look as if they popped up naturally. But the key word there is “designed.” They take a great deal of planning, and that's something a landscaper can do for you. Landscaping Network recommends checking with the Better Business Bureau before hiring one. The good thing about a cottage garden is that most of the plants are perennial. So once it's established, you can likely maintain it without assistance.
Landscaping is one of life's greatest joys, but only for some people. For others, the very idea of digging in the dirt is nothing but a chore. If you fall into the first camp, working with a landscaper might be the best choice at first, regardless of what your goals happen to be. A pro can help you avoid a lot of mistakes. But if you want a great looking yard and don't want to fuss with it, then a professional can handle whatever you want, even if it's only a few shrubs.
Gardens take maintenance, just like anything else around your home. And unlike a chore such as cleaning the gutters, missing an important and short timeframe for chores such as pruning or fertilizing can cause big problems. Our spring home maintenance checklist can help you stay on track with all your home chores.