What to Avoid During Landscape Installation


Landscaping generally has two sections: planning/designing and installation. While both sections are enjoyable, exciting ways to personalize your property and show off your personal style, there are inherent mistakes which many homeowners make. Unfortunately, these mistakes aren't often realized until it's too late, leaving unfinished work, costly delays or, worst of all, serious injuries.

In this article, we'll cover the most common mistakes made during landscape installation. In addition, we'll give you tips on avoiding these errors. Landscaping should be fun, and with a little advance knowledge, you can relax and enjoy the process instead of worrying.

Hiring Inexperienced Workers

Since many landscaping installation tasks don't involve more than digging holes and inserting plants, a large number of homeowners make the mistake of thinking that just about anybody can get the job done. While this may be true, there's a world of difference between getting the job done and getting it done correctly.

Landscaping companies exist for a reason. Their employees make their living by planning and/or installing landscaping features, from the ornate to the extremely basic. If you don't have the time, patience or proper equipment to install your landscaping on your own, don't hesitate to call a professional. Just make sure that the professional you call has experience in the appropriate areas.

Even when hiring a professional landscaping company, it never hurts to double check on the specifics. If you're installing something more involved, such as an in-ground water feature or lighting, ask if the crew has experience in this particular area. Choosing the right professionals can mean the difference between a quality job and one that leaves you wanting.

Not Knowing What Requires a License

As we just mentioned, certain skills are required for certain jobs. However, experience does not necessarily mean licensing, and some jobs require certification.

If your landscaping installation involves anything to do with plumbing or electrical work, you must hire professionals who are licensed in these fields. In most areas, having plumbing or electrical work done is by unlicensed workers is against the law, and can result in fines and a partial loss of your insurance coverage. Even worse, an unlicensed worker simply isn't exposed to the very latest safety techniques and industry knowledge, and so they're more likely to make a dangerous mistake. Find out the laws in your area, and hire accordingly.

Design and Install Disconnect

Whether you've hired a professional company to plan and design your property or you've designed things all on your own, it's essential to make sure that these two components come together during installation.

Far too often, there's a huge disconnect between the installation crew and whoever designed the landscaping. This can result from using different landscaping companies for different jobs. It may simply be a matter of you being stuck at work while the crew installs your new trees and shrubs.

Whatever the reason, it's best to prevent this mistake. If at all possible, hire the same company to design and install your new landscaping. This will give you a much better chance of a true team effort, rather than disjointed workers doing their own thing. If you've tackled your landscape design on a DIY basis, be sure to sit down and discuss all your plans with the installation crew before any of them begin working. Try to be home as much as possible during the actual installation, as well - don't peek over their shoulders, but be aware of what's going on. It's your yard, after all.

While you're talking things over, be sure point out any details that aren't obvious when reading your plans. If you want a certain plant in view of a certain window, make it crystal clear that only "X" spot is attractive from all sides. Little details such as this can make or break a landscape installation. If you're clear right from the start, everybody involved will have the same idea of what needs to be done. This also avoids the annoying (and slightly embarrassing) dash out the front door, yelling wildly that this tree goes there.

Planting Depth

Whether you're new landscaping involves larger trees, tiny saplings or shrubbery, some degree of planting will be involved. This is one of those tricky areas that seems like it must be nearly foolproof. While it's definitely not an involved process, knowing how deep to place each plant makes a huge difference. Don't make the mistake of guessing (or letting your professionals guess) at how deep to dig. Each plant should have specifications, ideally attached directly to the pot or the plant itself.

There is a very simple reason why this is such an important mistake to avoid. Plants which are placed at either too shallow or too deep a depth will, most likely, die rather quickly. If you've just invested a good deal of money on partially mature trees, this can mean a huge financial loss. Even if your trees are tiny and came from the local discount store, it's still sad to watch them all die. Not to mention time-consuming, as you'll need to purchase and plant all over again.

If your plants don't come with directions already attached, do a quick internet search. You'll find readily available information on how deep each plant should be placed. Going too deep can kill the plant by choking off its supply of nutrients, while planting too shallow can expose delicate roots to weather extremes and even nibbling wildlife. If you have a tree or plant which you can't find any information on, a good general rule is to dig down as deep as the pot which it came in. Follow individual directions whenever possible, and general rules when necessary, in order to enjoy healthy, thriving plants.

Attempting Too Much DIY

In today's uncertain economic climate, more homeowners than ever before are seeking out ways to save money. While this is an excellent principle, there are times when it's actually more cost- and time-effective to hire professionals.

If your landscape installation involves plumbing or electricity, we've already covered it - you need licensed professionals. However, there are many jobs which don't require any licensing or certification. These are the jobs which homeowners most often attempt to tackle on their own. While this can be a great way to be involved in the process and save money at the same time, it can also turn into a big mistake.

Consider first whether you have the physical strength to complete a job properly. Digging is hard work, much harder than it looks. If you're not sure you can get the job done safely in an acceptable amount of time, consider bringing in outside help. It won't cost as much as a full-scale landscaping installation, and you'll be saving yourself a lot of exertion. The same principle applies to things like laying sod, prepping a dirt yard and even planting large numbers of small plants. Landscaping should be enjoyable, and if you're just not the outdoors type, you're likely to become bored and frustrated before the job is finished. Far too often, this results in plants wilting because they've been stuck in temporary pots for too long, odd-looking yards which are halfway complete, and generally unhappy homeowners. If you can find the room in your budget, why not avoid all these mistakes and get the job done quickly and correctly?

Ignorance of Local Laws and Utilities

Depending on where you live, there may be regulations which allow and disallow certain additions to your property. Sometimes, they are intended to preserve the historic integrity of an older area. In some cases, these regulations exist to encourage a uniform look throughout a certain neighborhood.  In other cases, these laws ensure that one person's landscaping doesn't interfere with another person's view or access to common areas.

Instead of merely hoping that you're not violating any regulations, call your local government offices and ask what's allowed. You'll most likely be given a set of regulations or directed to a website. Keep these regulations handy and refer to them often to avoid a costly mistake. Depending on your location, violating these regulations can result in fines in the hundreds of dollars.

Even more crucial than neighborhood regulations, the locations of underground utility lines is something you and any workers must be aware of. Hitting these lines can result in flooding, knocking out power, and even deadly explosions. Thankfully, this is another potentially devastating mistake which is very easy to avoid. Call your local utility companies and request detailed information on the location of any pipes or lines which run through your property. Keep this information close at hand as you work, and make it available to any workers as well.

Depending on where you live, utilities information may also be obtained from the government office which issues building permits. Many cities and towns have very handy information already prepared, showing homeowners all the utility lines on their property. In other areas, you'll need to contact each company separately. Don't make the mistake of skipping a few companies - get all the information you need to stay safe.

As you can see, avoiding the most common landscape installation mistakes is a simple matter of caution and forethought. With some thoughtful planning and some smart hiring decisions, you're sure to end up with a beautiful yard with a minimum of cost and effort. 

Posted by: TrustedPros
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