Embarking on a landscape project as a beginner gardener can be both exciting and rewarding, but without careful planning and consideration, it’s easy to fall into common traps that can turn your dream garden into a nightmare. To ensure your outdoor vision becomes a reality, steer clear of these common mistakes in designing and executing your own project.
1. Neglecting a Solid Plan: Jumping straight into the project without a well-thought-out plan is probably the most costly mistake a DIY landscaper can make. Without a plan and budget, you can quickly pen yourself into creating as many problems as you solve. An ad-hoc approach to renovations leads to easy oversights, missed opportunities, and lots of repeat handling. Take the time to sketch a detailed design, considering factors like plant placement, sun exposure, gate clearances, pool isolation compliance, and utility lines. A comprehensive plan helps avoid costly changes later on.
2. Ignoring Soil Quality: Your soil is the foundation of your future garden, in any garden renovation, it’s critical that you take the opportunity to enhance your soil before planting. In Perth, where sandy soils are everywhere, this is especially critical. Improving the water retention and nutrient supply in your soils to align with the plants you will be planting will make caring for and growing your future garden much more painless. Inspect your soil and conduct a soil test to determine its composition and nutrient levels. Amend and mix in clay and nutrients to the soil as needed to create an optimal environment for your plants to thrive.
3. Planting Without Considering Growth: Planting without accounting for the mature size and invasiveness of the plants can lead to some pretty significant problems down the track. Before planting, research the maximum size and root behaviour of your chosen plants and space or locate them accordingly. This prevents overcrowding and reduces the need for constant pruning, and minimizes the risk of your new garden destroying nearby walls and water supplies.
4. Neglecting Watering Needs: Underestimating the importance of proper watering and misunderstanding the watering needs of your selected plants can lead to heartache. Think early on about the watering needs of your chosen plants, and develop a schedule for watering them efficiently. We recommend investing in a reliable dripline irrigation system to your garden areas and maintain consistency in your schedule. Occasional mulching of your gardens will help to reduce evaporation, but it’s also important to position thirsty plants in spots where they’ll be protected from the worst of any blasting Perth heat.
5. Forgetting about Maintenance: Failing to consider the long-term maintenance requirements of your space can leave you with a space that is too frustrating to be enjoyed. When planning your design, be sure to consider how you will access areas that require upkeep. Consideration of how much you enjoy gardening, (and whether you will engage a professional service to undertake the upkeep) might curb any designs you have for super high care planting. If you can’t see yourself regularly pruning, hedging, mowing and fertilising – consider slower growing, hardy and low maintenance options, or make a decision to hand over the ongoing maintenance to a professional so you can sit back and enjoy your new space. Choose plants that suit your level of commitment and establish a routine that suits you for weeding, pruning, and fertilizing to keep your landscape looking its best.
6. Overlooking Sun and Shade Patterns: Disregarding the sun and shade patterns in your garden can result in accidentally designing inhospitable functional spaces, or accidentally killing or inhibiting your plants. Understand the sunlight conditions in different areas of your landscape early on to ensure the appropriate placement of sun-loving and shade-tolerant plants, as well as the best positioning for any shade solutions you may be introducing.
7. Ignoring Climate Considerations: Consideration of climate and local environment is essential to happy plants. In Perth, coastal areas are a particular hotspot for this mistake. One easy trick for ensuring your plant selections are happy in your area, is to walk around your neighborhood and see what species are looking good. Research and choose plants that are hardy in your region and microclimate to enhance their chances of survival and reduce the risk of disease.
8. Using Poor-Quality or Insufficient Materials: Opting for cheap or subpar materials to save money can be tempting, but there is an art to picking and choosing where to save and where to splurge. We recommend investing in quality materials for hardscaping and landscaping features as much as possible. Choosing a high-quality version of a more cost-effective material is often better than choosing a cheap version of a pricier finish. Staging certain works and doing jobs as you can afford them can also help to pull back budgets, as can picking your battles about which areas are worth investing in, and which will endure less use and scrutiny. This ensures durability and longevity, saving you money in the long run.
9. Disregarding Local Regulations: Check with local authorities to understand any restrictions on landscaping projects prior to commencement. If there are any works you’re not sure about, reach out to your council for a chat, most councils will provide quick advice on what permits and applications are required for certain types of works. Obtaining necessary permits can help you to avoid fines, setbacks, and conflict with your neighbours. Some key things that you may need to check with your council about include: undertaking works to your verge, driveway, or crossover, building decks, freestanding walls or retaining walls over certain heights, adjusting or introducing pool isolation fencing, pools, spas, outdoor kitchens or fireplaces.
10. Overambitious Timelines: Setting realistic deadlines for project completion can be very tough when you’re undertaking a project you haven’t completed before. Planning a realistic timeline means considering factors like weather, available time, staging and scheduling of various trades, timeframes for any council applications. In large projects with lots of moving parts, allowing contingency time for unforeseen challenges is a must. This helps manage expectations and reduces stress during the project.
We hope this list helps you to plan your next landscaping project and get the most out of the job! Take the time to plan thoroughly, research your plants and materials, be mindful of the specific needs of your outdoor space, ask for help when it’s needed, and know your limits. Happy landscaping!