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.

20150324
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!”

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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