Whether avid gardeners like us realize it or not, many of us are our own landscape designers.
Here are 10 common pitfalls to avoid:
1. Not having a plan in advance. Putting a plant somewhere in your landscape just because there’s room for it there can result in a haphazard look. Give real thought and planning to the overall design, you’ll be living with it for a long time.
2. Planting more than you’re willing to care for. Choose a majority of plants that are low-maintenance to keep your landscaping looking great and your chores to a minimum.
3. Failing to set up proper irrigation. South Florida plants need a deep watering twice a week in our hot summers, and once a week in winter — if there’s been no rain. You standing out there with a hose for five minutes once a week won’t cut it. Plants with insufficient water will grow weak and scraggly and invite bugs.
4. Creating a design that’s too complicated. Keep it simple. Don’t use too many colors, too many island beds, too much of anything. If you want a full, complex, incredible landscape like something out of Southern Living, hire a pro to design it.
5. Using foundation plants that will get too big. You see ’em everywhere — big green plant “boulders” or “walls” that a homeowner is trying desperately to make look good, even though the plants are too large for their spot. Always ask at the plant nursery if a particular plant can be kept 2- to 3-feet-tall or whatever your ultimate height requirement is. If you plant something that wants to be 6 or 8 or 10 feet tall, it won’t be pretty when you try to keep it small.
6. Using tall plants between all the windows. People often think, “Ooh! There’s a blank wall space and I must fill it with a large plant.” Beware of too many ups and downs in your plant heights; instead, create a natural “flow.”
7. Forgetting to “balance” your design. Things on both sides of a focal point like your front door should create a balanced look. This doesn’t mean they need to be balanced by height, but rather by their impact.
8. Trying to achieve perfect symmetry. No two plants, even if they are the same height when you buy them, will grow at the same rate. So buy something you can keep evenly trimmed, or just go for a more natural look.
9. Planting things too close together. Eventually plants look sparse and leggy if they must fight each other for sunlight. Follow the spacing advice from plant nursery personnel when you purchase plants.
10. Playing it too safe. Don’t just settle for cookie-cutter landscaping. Treat yourself to a striking palm you’ve always loved, or lots of flowering plants in your favorite color. Sure, you want people to admire your landscaping. But it’s more important that YOU really love it.
Books by Chase Landre, Snowbird Gardening and Design Your Own Landscaping, are available at local garden centers and businesses. For more info, visit www.snowbirdgardening.com. Her gardening column runs twice a month in Neighbors. Meet Chase 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays at Burnett’s Nursery, 4808 18th St. E., Bradenton.