Avoid these 5 Landscaping Blunders

      Creating a beautiful landscape takes time and resources. Invest in careful planning and research before you begin to establish or renovate a landscape. It will pay off in the long run.

     Here are a few common blunders that occur in landscaping and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

Problem: Planting Without Planning

     It is easy to get overwhelmed by the planning of any project, let alone one you don’t have a lot of experience with. All of these blunders come under the category of insufficient planning. So, what are the most important planning tasks?

Solution: Make a Site Plat Plan

     Take an inventory of the area and its features. Start with a plat plan or a Google map of the property. Make a copy. Don’t draw on the original.

     Draw in existing hardscape features: house, driveway, sidewalk, deck, septic field, utility lines, etc. A hardscape is any feature that is not easily moved.

     Note the north compass direction to help determine sun and shade. This will help with plant selection.

    Mark the location and name (if you know it) of existing plants that you want to keep. Use an X to mark the trunk and a circle to show the relative size of the canopy or drip line. This helps to determine what plants can be planted underneath.

    Identify very wet or very dry areas. The bottom of a slope can hold a lot more moisture that the top of hill.

     What do you want to accomplish? Screen the neighbors, create a quiet outdoor seating area, create a pollinator garden as a focal point from inside the house, or something else? Remember: Form follows function.

     After you’ve selected your plants, add them to the plan. Don’t plant them too close together!

     Get your soil tested. Pay attention to the pH results. Some plants are finicky about the acidity of the soil in which they’re planted. See the Home & Garden Information Center’s soil testing information: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing. Contact Ask an Expert if you need help interpreting the results.

Problem: Impulse Purchases 

      Businesses love impulse purchases, but you know what happens when you grocery shop when you’re hungry, right?

Solution: Do not Buy Any Plants on the First Trip

      Visit a local garden center or public garden to see what plants are available and what will likely grow well in your area.

      Write down the names of the plants you like and the places you would like to plant them. Take a picture of the plant and its tag. Never rely on memory.

     Go to the library or search Google for maximum height and width; Preference for sun, shade, etc.; Preference for wet, moist, well-drained or dry soil; Planting zone. See the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Maryland’s zones range from 5b to 8a.

Problem: Ignoring a Plant’s Needs

      Yes, plants have needs, too. And they can’t just get up and walk to a place in the landscape that would meet their growing requirements. Plants that are struggling to survive aren’t thriving and are more susceptible to insect and disease problems. 

Solution: Right Plant, Right Place 

      Start with a list of native plants: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/recommended-native-plants-maryland.

      Plants that are native to an area are adapted to that environment, are less susceptible to pest and disease problems and require less products and maintenance.

Problem: Planting invasives 

     Invasive plants can cause serious economic and environmental damage. Maryland has imposed restrictions on the sale of invasive plants.

Solution: Learn What They Are

      Visit and view our invasive plants page: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/invasive-plant-photos-and-information.

Problem: Biting off More than You Can Chew

Solution: Don’t Try to Do It All As One Big Project

      Unless you plan on hiring professionals to do the job, it is best to start small.