Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

For Easy Landscaping, Go Step by Step

20150324BThere is no law saying you have to landscape your property in one fell swoop. If you try to do so, you’ll find yourself spending a lot more money and putting in a lot more effort. That’s because trying to everything at once usually means you need to call in professionals, even for projects you could have done yourself. If you do your own landscaping, at your own pace, it will probably cost only 1/10th of what it would if you’d handed the project over to a professional landscaper.

Instead of doing your landscape all a once, try doing just one project a year, picking something you can do yourself or with the help of your spouse. (You could even try to get your teenagers involved: good luck with that!) If you stick to a modest-sized project, you won’t feel overwhelmed and you’ll quickly discover you already have most of the tools – and indeed, often many of the materials – on hand.

You can create a new flower bed in an hour by putting down 7 to 10 sheets of newspaper and covering it with top soil.

But where to begin? Of course, that’s your decision, but it’s usually best to start by solving any underlying problems that will affect your future plans. For example, poor drainage is not going to go away on it’s own, and yet adding drainage pipe to a damp area is inexpensive and quite doable… if you take care of it yourself. A wobbly or damaged walkway is something you could fix on your own and is doing so is vital for safety (and insurance) reasons. A steep slope may need terracing (you certainly won’t want it covered in lawn or it will be dangerous to mow!) and installing a wall is a vital step that does take quite a bit of energy. Or get rid of that patch of invasive plants by cutting them down and covering them with old carpet until they die from lack of light.

None of these projects really improves the esthetics of your property per se, but once you’ve got the hard slugging done, you can move on to beautifying in following years. A flower bed here, a vegetable bed there, a bit of trellising, etc. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you create the landscape you’ve always dreamed of even if you only do one project a year… and when you step back to admire it, you’ll be proud to say “I did it myself!”

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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