How to Landscape a Yard Like a Pro
It's easy to look across the street at the house with the perfectly trimmed shrubs, flawless flower beds and immaculately clipped grass, and be just a little jealous. Who has the time, let alone the budget to hire a team of professional landscapers?
It turns out you don't have to be a pro to know how to landscape like one, and you certainly don't have to sink a fortune into your front yard. These pro landscaping tips will have your lawn and garden looking its best in no time.
How to Landscape for Year-Round Appeal
Evergreen shrubs are your best friends when it comes to making your property look good all year long. They constantly provide cover and color, and the options are endless when it comes to sizes, shapes and textures. Plant evergreens near your house—especially at the corners—to soften your home's vertical lines and give it a more inviting appearance, even in the dead of winter.
Create Natural Edges
Rather than buying plastic or metal edging, use plants to make a natural edge around beds. Edging certainly has its uses and can be great if you want to give your landscape a particular well-manicured look, but natural edges are, for lack of a better word, more natural. Plus, they allow easier maintenance and give you more flexibility to make future landscape changes.
Choose the Right Lawn Mower
Every lawn is different, and depending on its size, configuration, and the hilliness of the terrain, the ideal lawn mower may vary. Residential zero-turn mowers are great for mowing large areas, allowing you to cover lots of ground in a fraction of the time. But in some situations, such as small yards with lots of tight spaces and steep slopes, you may still want to have a push mower handy.
Use Starter Fertilizer
New plantings need all the help they can get. A good starter fertilizer, combined with proper planting techniques, gives your young landscape plants a major boost. Look for starter fertilizer that has relatively low nitrogen, a little more phosphorous, and mycorrhizae-beneficial fungi, which increases the area of soil from which the plant's roots draw nutrients. And, of course, research the specific needs and correct planting time for any plants you add to your landscape.
Planting annuals every season is laborious, time-consuming and expensive. Instead, consider choosing long-blooming annuals and planting them in pots and beds in high-visibility locations so they have maximum impact.
Break it up With a Big Rock
Strategically placing one or two large rocks—and we mean very large rocks—is a great way to break up a vast expanse of lawn. The trick is to choose rocks that are attractive on their own, and also compliment the color, size, and shape of other landscape elements. You can also use rocks and boulders as the centerpiece to gardens and beds.
Choose Top Performing Grass Varieties
There are a lot of grass varieties to choose from, and a lot of considerations to weigh. Do you need drought tolerance? Cold hardiness? Do you need grass to grow in shady or wet areas? From cool-season grasses like bluegrass and fescue to warm-season varieties like zoysia and Bermudagrass, choosing the right grass—or the right blend—is crucial. Start with a soil test, and make your grass choice based on soil conditions and climate.
Group a Variety of Plants Together
Grouping plants together makes mowing easier (you'll have fewer things to mow around), and it also gives your landscape a harmonious look. Grouping lots of different types of plants together ensures a diverse display of color year-round. Be sure to include evergreens and plants with ornamental leaves, along with perennials that bloom in spring, summer and fall, so your garden will never look dull.
Connect Points of Interest with Paths
If your landscape has a lot of individual points of interest—gardens, flower beds, fire pits, patios, water features—it can end up looking like a jumble of scattered landmarks rather than a unified whole. Creating pathways between points of interest solves this problem. It ties your landscape together and prevents the formation of natural pathways of unhealthy trampled grass along paths of least resistance.
Leave Open Space
Musicians will tell you that the notes you don't play are just as important as the notes you do play. Landscaping is kind of the same way. Filling every space will only result in a cluttered, messy appearance. The goal is to have a balanced landscape that leads the eye naturally from one point to the next, and the most crucial element is open space.