5 Dos And Don'ts Of Backyard Landscaping

05/20/2015 06:39 pm ET | Updated May 21, 2016

Your backyard can be many things -- a quiet retreat, a play area for the kids, an adventurous space for the pets -- the possibilities rest with your imagination. It's important to keep the purpose of the space in mind when you landscape. You should also consider climate conditions and any other concerns before digging in and planting new flowers or shrubs. Here are the main dos and don'ts of backyard landscape design to guide you:

Photo courtesy of Classic Cottages, LLC in Alexandria, VA


#1 Use a landscape professional when needed.
Landscape professionals know everything about your local climate conditions. They also regulate the design process from beginning to end. It saves you a lot of time and hassle, especially if you're busy with work or the kids. You can end up with a beautiful product for a little extra money but a lot less time and work on your part.

#2 Think in the long term.
Plant care can sometimes become cumbersome. Choose plants that won't be too hazardous or high maintenance, especially if you aren't home a lot to care for them. You should think about what the mature size of a plant will be before investing in it.

#3 Consider your home's appeal.
Exterior appeal is just as important as interior appeal. This doesn't mean your front yard is the only area buyers will focus on. If your backyard is unkempt, wild, or not fenced in, buyers will be less likely to put an offer down.

#4 Plan for as little maintenance as possible.
What kind of timeframe do you have to water and nurture plants? Are you a stay at-home mom with a lot of other responsibilities? Do you have a green thumb? Take all of these into consideration when choosing your plants. You don't want to spend hundreds on these green babies only to watch them die because they're left alone for weeks at a time without food or water.

#5 Watch for weeds.
Never let weeds grow in your backyard, especially if you're trying to get a garden underway. Weeds, including dandelions, are invasive and problematic -- and they detract from the overall appeal from the yard. While your children might enjoy picking these and letting their seeds fly, it spells more work for you in the long term. You might consider spraying some pre-emergent herbicide on your garden beds to save you a little time and trouble.

Photo courtesy of Almost Perfect Landscaping, LLC in Paramus, NJ


#1 Install invasive species.
While some invasive plants might seem beautiful, they are more trouble than they're worth. Species that need a certain kind of climate will wither and die quickly. This leads to more money spent on replacements in your garden. You should ask a professional lawn care service about which plants thrive in your area, and moreover, which exotics to avoid.

#2 Let the lawn take over.
While green lawns are great for children and dogs, gardening enthusiasts should think about downsizing their lawn for more gardening beds and shrubs. You can dig up grass and replace it with more attractive flowers or shrubbery. For parents or dog owners, remember to keep the lawn well-trimmed. If you don't have time, have your lawn professionally mowed for $50 to $110.

#3 Plant trees too close.
Never plant a tree too close to your home, or else you could be looking at roof repair in the winter. Consider how tall and long its branches will be. The absolute minimum distance a short tree should be from your home is 20 feet, but taller trees should be planted up to 50 feet away.

#4 Allow the overgrowth to stay.
Overgrown trees, shrubs and flowers can detract from the beauty of a backyard. Whether you planted them or they were already there, you should think about removing them if their maintenance is too much work. You don't want the backyard's beauty to be overshadowed by these problematic plants.

These are only some tips for ensuring a beautiful backyard design. The absolute number one rule for your backyard is this: create your perfect oasis. Whether it's a place to enjoy warm summer nights, have a family meal or throw the ball with your dog, your backyard should be a welcome environment.

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