10 Ways To Ruin Your Garden

by Ben Bowen

How To Ruin Your Landscape

Ever have a waitress set a beautiful plate of food in front of you, and then notice a hair in it? Kind of ruins everything doesn't it? Yes, for anything to be great it's not enough to include the right things- you also have know what to avoid.

Designing, building, and maintaining a great garden is no different. You can ruin, or at least greatly detract from, your landscaping in many ways- it's just not that hard!

I see the same mistakes being made over and over again. Here are my top ten to avoid:

Common Landscaping Mistakes

  1. Too many cheap annuals. Don't let pansies take over your expensive hardscape or garden. It makes no sense and doesn't work. Cheap color has it's place- at the entrance of a chain restaurant- not your home.
  2. Two words: pampas grass. Just because Home Depot sells this as a cute little 1 gallon grass doesn't mean it's going to stay that way. This stuff gets 10 feet across! You can literally burn it to the ground and it will come back. Do not plant this monster if your lot is under 10,000 square feet.
  3. Plastic. Plastic can only be underground in your garden. No plastic or vinyl fences. No plastic lighting fixtures. Absolutely no plastic edging. I am not being a snob here. I am trying to save you. I see people regret these choices all the time.
  4. Roses. Let me clarify- roses, in the wrong places. A rose garden can have a place in specific types of landscapes. A rose can be hidden so that you only notice it when it blooms. The problem is the structure of most rose bushes is not so great. If they didn't bloom no one would plant them, ever. Don't plop a rose down in between your Japanese maple and pieris. Please.
  5. Small boulders. How this happens: "I like boulders, but they are so heavy. I know, I'll just get some smaller ones, no one will notice, and I won't hurt my back." Boulders need to be appropriately sized and properly set or they will detract from your landscape. "Appropriately sized" is much larger than you think, by the way.
  6. Buying hedge trimmers. And you don't have a hedge. Want your landscaping to look like it belongs in front of a chain restaurant with a bed full of pansies? Then take those hedge trimmer to your azaleas and make perfect balls out of them. This is a mistake that is hard to live down. You are literally destroying the natural structure of you plant material!
  7. Not watering. This is a "no brainer", right? It is amazing, though, how often people give up on watering in August. Half the plants die, the rest stop thriving. If you don't want to lug a hose around then install irrigation, or plant a low water use landscape.
  8. Bamboo, with no barrier. I love bamboo. But, if you don't properly contain it, bamboo will ruin your yard. It will also ruin your relationship with your neighbors when it pops up in the middle of their paver patio. What's that, just use clumping bamboo? Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but clumping bamboo is ugly.
  9. Weed barrier. Everyone is looking for a chemical free way to keep weeds at bay. Plastic sheeting, cloth underlayment, cardboard, old carpet, coffee sacks- I have seen it all. You put soil or bark dust over the top, but eventually it sloughs off, and now you can see little mounds of plastic all over your yard! Your rake catches it and rips pieces of it to the surface. Weeds take root in the seams. Weeds eventually grow on top of or right through it. I have ripped out truck loads of this stuff. Don't do it. There is only one fool proof, chemical free, way to control weeds. Pull them every week.
  10. Nothing. Yep, the easiest way to ruin your garden is to ignore it.

What did I miss? How did you ruin your garden? Comment are welcome below!

Pampas grass. It gets even bigger!

Pampas grass. It gets even bigger!

There are very few yards where this works.

There are very few yards where this works.

This is what bamboo wants to do.

This is what bamboo wants to do.

No! Don't do it!

No! Don't do it!