Blog, Landscaping

"What to Do" and "How to Do It" for the Not-So-Green Thumbs Out There

Are you looking for a way to create a Pinterest paradise in your backyard?

Thick and luscious grass, vibrant flowers, fountains, birds chirping…

Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Well, grab your gardening gloves because we're going to teach you how to create the backyard of your dreams.

Don't worry, you not-so-green thumbs, we'll walk you through every step!

question

Wait, What Exactly Is It?

Of course, if you're a native English speaker, you generally know what landscaping means but do you know what it entails?

Does that include decorating and outdoor furniture too...or?

Well, landscaping is considered the act of planning and constructing a garden or yard. The purpose of this construction is generally to enhance the overall appearance and make it a more enjoyable and usable space.

So, that includes anything you need to make it the oasis of your dreams.

Getting excited yet?

Past, Perennial, and Fuschia

Part of the reason why landscaping is so popular is that it has existed for centuries; yeah, centuries.

Due to the fact landscaping can be defined as making the land more useable, you could argue that ancient Mayans were some of the first to do so.

Tikal National Park in Belize featuring Mayan ruins

Fast forward, and you'll find ancient Romans enjoying the peace and tranquility of gardens and courtyards that have been beautifully landscaped.

castle with maze
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Why Would People Do That?

You may be asking yourself why people go through so much trouble.

Well, it could be a number of things including obsessive-compulsive disorder…

However, we think most people do it for the following reasons:

Work with Your Hands

One of the main reasons we suspect people turn to landscaping is because sometimes it's nice to work with your hands.

So many of us are in jobs that don't allow us to create, build or focus on the present.

Working with your hands is not only fun, but it can be a great stress reliever too.

Being in Nature

One of the reasons we love landscaping is because it gives us a chance to be in nature and learn about it.

Taking the time to get to know the individual grass seed you're planting and watching it grow gives you a unique connection with and a greater appreciation for the earth.

a man hugging a leafless tree while its surroundings are covered in snow

This isn't just hippy-dippy talk. If you don't believe us, check out MentalFloss' article on Scientific Reasons Why Being in Nature is Relaxing:

Honestly, It's Kind of Fun…

Another reason people might landscape is because it's a fun hobby.

Many people find the combination of landscaping, gardening and being outdoors helps to reduce their depression.

If it's good for your health and you think you'd enjoy it, then what are you waiting for?

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Okay, but Why Should I Do It?

a quiet home with beautiful landscaping in its front lawn

Besides increasing your home's overall value (more on that later), there are many benefits to landscaping.

Not only can landscaping reduce noise levels, attract natural wildlife and help to minimize stress, but it also can teach you something about yourself.

You'll see what we mean down below:

We're Learning and Living

One of the largest benefits of taking on a landscaping project is just expanding your knowledge.

If you're doing it right, then you're putting in the research required to ensure you're picking the correct plants and material for your climate and region (more on this later).

After all, knowledge is power.

It's All about Healthy, Baby

When you know just how to treat your grass, trees, and plants to help them grow, you're improving the overall health of your yard.

People interested in improving their yards often avoid the problems less interested people face.

Knowledge isn't just power—it's also health.

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Landscaping Is the Same As Gardening, Right?

You may be reading all of this and thinking to yourself...well, isn't landscaping the same thing as gardening?

Well, you would be both right and wrong, smarty pants.

Let's take a look at each one to find out:

Landscaping

a girl holding a green plastic watering can while posing to say she is ready

Landscaping is unique because, as we've learned, it's the act of improving a space to make it more aesthetically pleasing or useable.

This can include gardening, furniture, fencing, trees, statues, fountains and more.

Don't you worry; we'll go over the different types of landscaping later on.

Gardening

Gardening, as you now know, can be a part of landscaping. However, if you merely want to garden, without landscaping, that's also possible.

Gardening truly refers to the act of caring for and maintaining plant life in one space.

Landscaping is different because its focus is on design and not maintenance or care.

The Options to Choose From

Now that you know how landscaping differs from gardening, you can get into the nitty gritty!

Believe it or not, there are different types of landscaping out there.

Explore the most common forms below:

Option One: Hardscape

hardscape backyard for barbecue party or relaxing

Confused about whether architecture comes into play for landscaping?

Well, it does; so does furniture. In fact….

A hardscape is a style of landscaping where you use non-living materials to enhance your space.

Additional examples of hardscapes are as follows:

  • Retaining walls
  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Fences
  • Decks
  • Arbors or gazebos

Option Two: The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

some small yellow flower plants and other small flowering plants beautifully seated by the foot of the wooden fences

Turf, also known as grass, is a great way to enhance a yard.

Plants, including trees, can also be a method of landscaping.

This style of landscaping is the most popular and inexpensive!

Option Three: Water

water fountain with bird perched on it

While it's true that fountains are considered hardscapes, the actual water is not.

Adding a fountain or water feature is a great way to add tranquility to your garden.

Just make sure you have the climate for it! (More on this later!)

Dollar, Dollar Bills, Y'All

colorful flowers in different colors and species and leaves in different sizes and shapes planted near the pond

Want to know the biggest and best benefit landscaping can add to your home?

It's value... or should we say money?

Now, we know this might not mean much if you're not looking to sell, but perceived value is something to think about as well.

a man and a woman happily prepares their food using fresh vegetables

After all, who doesn't want to look like their living in a beautiful, well-kept, home?

The Top Landscaping Techniques to Increase Property Value

infographics about home improvements that can increase value to properties

Looking for a way to increase your home's value without spending a fortune?

Landscaping is your answer.

It's estimated that your return on investment for landscaping is a whopping 200 percent.

To make a big impact (and fast) we recommend the following:

  • Plant trees
  • Have mature plants
  • Match the design to the outside of your home
  • Plant blooms around peak seasons
  • Edge your lawn

It's Time to Look Down

Now that you have a little more knowledge of landscaping, you can take a critical look at your own lawn.

You may have already drawn up plans, put together Pinterest boards and ogled inspirational pictures, but just take a deep breath and step back.

Have you realistically assessed your land (emphasis on realistically…)?

Soil

Have you done a little digging lately?

No, we're not talking about stalking your ex…we're talking about soil.

Think about it this way...if your yard is full of rocks, you're going to have a much harder time than most when doing anything below the surface.

Start by getting a small hand shovel and start poking around to see what you're working with.

growing green plant on a healthy dark soil

Chances are you'll have one of the following soil types:

  • Clay
  • Sand
  • Silt
  • Peat
  • Chalk
  • Loam

Learn more about soil types and what it means for your landscaping project here:

Shade

How much sun does your yard get a day?

If your answer is “some” or “a little,” you'll need to do a more thorough investigation.

Determining how much sun you get will greatly impact your materials and design.

Generally, you'll use the terms shade, partial or full sun when it comes to describing your sun exposure.

If you're still not sure how to categorize your yard, check out Get Busy Gardening's article on How to Determine Sun Exposure in Your Garden.

Foot Traffic

Another thing you definitely want to assess when looking at your yard is the usage.

Who uses your yard? Do you have a dog? Outdoor cat? Young children?

If so, take a look at ideas specifically meant for your situation.

Believe it or not, there are even different types of grasses that are ideal for areas with high foot traffic.

Now, Look Up

Now that you're done looking down at your feet you can look up.

That's right; it's time to assess your climate critically!

Taking a look at your hardiness zone, humidity levels, and overall temperature can help you select the materials, trees, and plants that will work best in your yard.

After all, we'd hate for you to try to plant a palm tree in Wisconsin.

Which Zone Are You?

This is why we wanted you to wait before you started planning.

Each location in the United States has been given a hardiness rating.

plant hardiness zone map

This rating determines which grass, plants, flowers, and trees can grow in your yard.

Yes, this means you'll have to be really picky when shopping online!

Climate

Now that you know your hardiness zone, you can start thinking about your location's climate.

Do you live in a location with a lot of humidity? Maybe it's all dry heat where you live.

Either way, take this into account, especially for plants because plants can actually get sunburnt and easily rot with too much moisture.

Dreariness Index in the US

What's the Temperature Today?

Speaking of the heat, you have to think about the sun.

No, we're not talking about your shade to sun ratio anymore. We're talking about the intensity of the sun where you live.

If you're in high altitude locations like Colorado, you can expect to have a higher and hotter exposure to the sun. Keep this in mind when making your landscaping plans!

Map showing the average daily sunlight in the United States

Suit Up!

beautiful landscaping

In each of these subheads, discuss one solution to the main problem in an engaging and visually interesting way.

Gloves and Arm Protection

We really don't recommend you do any gardening without gloves.

Gloves not only protect your latest manicure but also help shield you from thorns, dirt, bugs and more.

Invest in a sturdy pair of gloves that go up past your wrist like this pair from Magid Glove & Safety:

Hand Trowel

Remember back when we told you to go poking around in your yard with a small shovel?

Well, the hand trowel is the one we were talking about!

This gardening essential is perfect for planting, weeding and figuring out your soil type.

If you don't have one already, you can buy one from Amazon. We suggest the one by Edward Tools:

Garden Hose (Emphasis on Garden)

Don't you dare roll your eyes at our hose suggestion. A proper gardening hose with attachments can save you hours of frustration.

Note that we said garden hose, not a standard garage hose. A garden hose, unlike normal hoses, will flex with ease.

Trust us when we say you want to avoid an overly long, stiff hose. Don't skimp on this supply.

Come Get Inspired Here:

Are you a visual person? It's okay; most people are these days.

One of the best parts about starting an outdoor project like this one is you get to look at a bunch of pictures and things that inspire you.

After all, didn't your mom teach you imitation is the best form of flattery?

Take a look at some of our favorite inspirations below!

Picture Inspiration:

  • The perfect combination of gardening and hardscapes:
combination of hardscape and gardening
  • Pinterest worthy pretty pathways:
green and pretty garden pathway
  • A gorgeously edged lawn:
a home that features a simple edged lawn

Video Inspiration:

  • This Backyard Makeover Time Lapse by Kevin Schellenberg on YouTube:
  • This incredible overhaul: Backyard Raised Patio Makeover: Landscaping Time Lapse by Dirt Ninja on YouTube
  • This BACKYARD BEFORE & AFTER walkthrough by Sivan Ayla on YouTube:

Do You Have Issues with Your Size? (No, Not Like That…)

Do you have an oddly shaped yard? Maybe you're dealing with a compact backyard in the city, or perhaps you have acres upon acres to develop.

Either way, you'll find no size shaming here.

Below we've put together a list of inspiring ideas for the weird ones out there!

Too Large?

Do you have more yard than you know what to do with?

If you're lucky enough to have a lot of land, that comes with the unlucky task of making it all look nice.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • The far-out fire pit:
far out backyard fire pit
  • The garden fence:
clean and green garden fence
  • Paths to perfection:
a quiet and relaxing garden that features shrubs along the gravel garden path

Too Small?

Those of us who have tiny backyards struggle with making the most out of the space.

Can you make something small feel like an oasis?

Of course, you can! Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • The cozy oasis:
small backyard patio furnished with outdoor couch and center table
  • Material separation expertise:
small backyard patio with long dining table and bench
  • The zeroscaped bar scene:
small backyard patio with outdoor fireplace and modern outdoor grill

Just Plain Weird?

Do you have a weirdly shaped yard?

You're not alone. Yards come in all shapes, sizes, and elevations.

Peep at some of our inspirational ideas for odd shaped yards below:

  • The triangle yard:
triangle shaped backyard with small table and two chairs placed on the green lawn
  • The long skinny:
narrow backyard with a long rectangular pool
  • A sloping masterpiece:
sloping backyard with wooden fences

For more help on how to design your oddly shaped yard, head on over to TotalLandscapeCare.com!

HERE'S HOW YOU'LL DECIDE

You've seen the inspirational pictures...now how do you decide what to do?

Well, there are two things that'll help you narrow that down.

Check them out below:

Start with the Size

front home garden with enchanting white flowers

The size of your yard will greatly determine what kind of landscaping techniques you'll be able to implement.

It also makes it much easier when searching for inspiration and how-tos.

Always keep the size of your yard in mind to remain realistic in your oasis goals!

How Hard Do You Want to Work?

infographics that shows how to prepare perennials plants for winter

Are you willing to spend time in your yard doing routine maintenance it once you've landscaped?

If not, you'll definitely want to consider the level of maintenance and care involved in your choices.

Although flowers and fountains are gorgeous, some people don't want to have to worry about cleaning, de-molding, weeding, watering, mulching and more.

If You Take Anything Away from This…

Before you start drawing up plans of grandiose fountains, pools, and porches...be realistic.

In our opinion, being realistic is the hardest part of home projects.

Well, until we all win the lottery and can hire full-time gardeners, here are some things to keep in mind:

How Fast Will It Happen?

You may spend hours planting and seeding only to feel disappointed.

If you're expecting to see fast results from plants, flowers, trees, and grass...think again.

Everything from the wind, foot traffic, wildlife, and pets can disturb the growth of anything newly planted.

Do thorough research in order to establish realistic expectations about how fast things will grow.

Can't or Won't Grow Grass? No Problem

If you live somewhere where growing grass is a nightmare...skip it!

We're serious. It's called zeroscaping, and it's a popular type of landscaping done in hot climates.

If you want to avoid crying over dead grass, check out some of these awesome zeroscaping ideas below:

  • The modern zeroscape:
woman sitting on zeroscape backyard patio
  • The spa oasis:
spa oasis backyard
  • Fairy-like fire pit:
fire pit on a tiled backyard patio

Going Big Doesn't Bring You the Big Bucks

thatched roof house with small pool near a beach

Maybe you have the funds to do something really over the top.

Something to remember is that most over the top landscaping designs don't have a great return on investment when you go to sell.

This is especially true if your yard becomes grander than the house itself. Balance is everything, young grasshopper.

Should You Hire Someone? The Real Truth

If you have some big plants and aren't interested in getting your hands dirty, consider hiring a professional.

According to Thumbtack.com, the average hourly rate for a professional landscaper is anywhere between $50 to $75.

Keep in mind this is the cost of one single person and that price does not include physical labor. That's just for design services.

Budget-Friendly Options

wood planks used as garden path with green healthy lawn

If the cost of a professional landscaper does not seem realistic to you, don't worry, we've got your back.

There are a ton of budget-friendly landscaping ideas out there!

To start, check out Country Living's list of 14 Budget-Friendly Landscaping Ideas That Look Professional:

The Tips and Tricks for Success

Get the Best Garden on the Block in Three Steps

If you want to outshine the Fosters next door, it's time you learned a thing or two about taking care of your yard. To get that picture perfect lawn, keep reading!

Plant Wisely

Make sure you are only using plants native to your location. If you are in Wisconsin, you'll want to avoid planting palm trees. True success takes some research and pickiness.

Make Watering Count

One of the annoying things about caring for a yard is watering. So, make sure it's not all going to go to waste. Watering during the hottest portions of the day won't do much for you. Keep your sprinklers close to the ground and collect rainwater to keep costs low.

Mulch It Up

Mulch may seem intimidating, but it's the key to a happy and healthy garden. Not only will this help enrich your soil, but it will also provide a nurturing environment to help water infiltration and more!

To read more landscaping tips, visit our website: lawndethatcherguide.com.

Want to get ahead of the game? If you're more advanced in landscaping knowledge or you're ready to learn more, keep reading.

Below we've put together three of the top tips to help you get started on your landscaping journey.

Go on, soak up that knowledge:

Don't Be Afraid of a Melting Pot

beautiful and colorful flowers

It can be tempting to get one type of plant and go crazy, but your final outcome won't look as polished as it could be.

However, If you want to create a true balance get a variety of plants and flowers.

Variation in a yard keeps it interesting and appealing to the eye. If you don't have an eye for colors or design you can always hire that professional that we talked about earlier.

Don't Be Straight; Curve It

dark pink tulips along a curved garden path

Do you want people to think you hired a professional to do all the dirty work in your renovation project?

Here is the simple tip: use curves instead of straight edges in your design. Yeah, that's it.

We know it may sound weird, but nature compliments the curvature.

Just trust us and if you don't (first of all how rude) check out Manitoba Co-Operator's article on Using Curves in Your Garden Landscape:

Go Easy on Yourself

beautiful home with simple landscaping

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the idea of creating a beautiful yard that we forget about making it functional.

If you have a tree that's hard to mow around, add some mulch in a tasteful circle around it instead.

There are a ton of ways you can make it easy on yourself; be a little selfish for once.

Did Someone Say Shopping Spree?

woman holding colorful flowers in a shop

Are you so ready to get started and shop until you drop (or should we say until your budget is used up)? We can feel your excitement from here.

If you are a little perplexed about where to buy the supplies you need to get started, don't worry.

Here is a list of online and retail locations where you can find the materials you'll need to transform your yard. Some of them might surprise you.

Online Stores:

  • Etsy.com
  • NatureHills.com
  • Amazon.com

Physical Retail Locations:

  • Home Depot
  • Lowe's
  • Your local garden center

There's More, There's More!

Are you ready and rearing to fill your noggin with more landscaping and gardening knowledge?

Well, you're in luck because below we've put together a few of our favorite, additional resources just for you.

So, what are you waiting for? Check 'em out:

DIY Network

a wood with shapes D, I and Y

The best possible place we can send you after this article is the DIY Network.

The name says it all, and you'll find everything here from videos and galleries to step-by-step projects.

Trust us; you won't be disappointed when you check it out.


Country Living


Rustic and shabby chic is all the rage for outdoor design…

country style backyard

And what better way to get inspired than heading over to Country Living.

You'll find everything from DIYs to how-tos here. For now, why not start by checking out their article on 52 Fresh New Landscaping Ideas for Your Yard:


Just Take Off the Glasses…


We don't know about you, but we love a good before and after.

If you want some serious inspiration, check out Sunset.com's 18 Inspiring Outdoor Makeovers:

If these don't bring home the power of landscaping, we don't know what will.


Please, Don't Do This

Now that you've read about all the things you should do for your new project, you have to learn what not to do.

That's right; there are some things you just should not do when it comes to landscaping.

Take note below:


Think about the Money, Honey

two people counting coins to budget their landscaping

One of the most dangerous things about landscaping is that it's fun…

And it can easily get out of hand, especially in terms of the budget.

Start by setting a budget for yourself and sticking to it! This also will help make planning that much easier.


Ignoring Irrigation

a running sprinkler system

Plants and grass need water and such, so you have to think about where you're watering.

Proper irrigation for flower planters is paramount!

This is especially important if your plants are near your home. Make sure you don't accidentally dislodge any sprinkler systems in your renovations.


Planting Trees Too Close

garden with plants and trees too close to each other

Although trees close to a home help insulate and block high winds, they also can be dangerous to your foundation.

Make sure you plant trees with enough distance between them and your foundation. When making your decision, consider the size of the fully-grown trees as well as their root growth.


Not Thinking about Color

a landscape with heart shape arches

While having a variety of flowers and plant types is ideal, it's not so ideal for color.

We're not suggesting you keep your garden or yard monochromatic. We're just saying if a rainbow isn't your plan, then you should well...plan.


Skipping over Annuals and Perennials

infographics showing the differences between annual and perennial plants

If you're running to your nearest garden center or going on an online shopping spree, pay special attention to the words annual and perennial when it comes to plants.

Annual means the plant or flower only lives for one full year. That means you need to buy the flower again and replant it every year if you want it to be a staple in your garden.

Perennials, on the other hand, come back year after year for an average of three years.


Look Forward to the Fuchsia

In the fuchsia, you can look forward to many relaxing, summer days in your yard.

Just remember to be realistic while putting together your plans and set a budget!

After all, you don't want to be that one house in the neighborhood with a perpetually unfinished yard.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your gardening gloves, find that trowel and get to work!

Once you lay that final edge, you will finally have a connection to those crotchety old men yelling at people to get off their pristine lawns. How awesome.

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