7 Common Mistakes in Landscape Design That Will Cost You Time, Money and Beauty


1. Landscape as an afterthought

When landscape design is not considered early in the design process, you can greatly limit the potential to integrate trees and shrubs into your property. Setbacks from shallow utilities, buildings and property boundaries limit the placement of landscape features and can result in a sporadic, inconvenient or unbalanced landscape design. A more holistic approach that considers landscape early in the planning stages can bring a far more harmonious and beautiful result.

2. The moustache

You invested in some landscaping to surround the foundation of your building or home. From the street it looks like the building or home is adorned in a gorgeous moustache of flowers and leaves. Yet, in reality you spend most of your time sitting in the building, and from there, sadly, not a flower or leaf can be seen.

3. Right plant, wrong place (aka the plop syndrome)

Feeling an eagerness to plant something, you visit a garden centre, buy some plants, and plop them in your yard. Fast forward five years later, you decide to expand your deck, and those lovely plants that are finally starting to establish themselves just happen to be in the way. You rip them out, attempt to relocate them, but they’re too big and eventually perish. Money and beauty down the drain.

4. Right plant, wrong time

You wanted an instant splash of colour in your yard so you bought a bunch of perennials. Yet, the northwest winds that make your back deck an unpleasant place to sit continue to persist. Or, the view into the neighbour’s backyard remains wide open. Having a long term vision allows you to prioritize the purchase of structural plantings that require a longer time to establish. While you can buy larger trees and shrubs from nurseries, younger trees tend to establish into healthier specimens in the long run and are a lot more affordable.

5. Wrong plant, wrong place

You love crabapples, but you didn’t really consider how ugly this particular species would make the walkway when the fruit falls and rots all over it. You love sumac, but you didn’t realize it would start popping up all over your lawn. You love Silver maple, but you didn’t realize what a hazard it could be in high winds when many branches fall on the driveway. You wanted a thick hedge, but you didn’t realize just how big those cedar would get.

6. Site inappropriate design

Think Las Vegas. A city in the middle of the desert with lush green lawns and palm trees. It’s extremely high maintenance and completely unnatural. Design that works in harmony with your environmental context is key. Plus, it contributes to the ecological integrity of your community.

7. Limited seasonal design

Your garden may look astounding in mid-summer but indistinguishable in mid-winter. Landscape design that considers all seasons doesn’t just allow you and other people to enjoy your property in every season, it is often a benefit to wildlife too.

Tara Callaghan