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Top Ten Mistakes DIY Landscapers Make


Do-it-yourself (DIY) home owners are to be admired.  They work hard to get a job done on their own terms.  It just makes a person’s landscape a little more rewarding -- more enjoyable -- to know they put together their surroundings with their own two hands.  However, there is a list of top ten mistakes DYI landscapers make.  Finding solutions that will help them to avoid these mistakes will ensure that their landscapes are all relaxation and admiration without any regret.

The List


  • The most common of all of the top ten mistakes DYI landscapers make is to underestimate the workload.

Solution: It may look like a two-day job in the do-it-yourself manuals, but read the print.  Pictures don’t tell the entire story.  Do the research, read several manuals, and talk to the experts.  This will give you a well-rounded view of how long the project will take and how labor intensive you can expect it to be.

  • Neglecting to prepare a materials, tools, and equipment list before getting started.


Landscaping MistakesSolution: Nothing slows a project down faster than having to drop everything and run to the hardware store, lumber yard, or stone quarry to get what you need to get your job done.  Those who do not make a list can find themselves running around about as much as they are swinging the hammer. Create a list, dividing into three clear categories: materials, tools, and equipment.  Gather everything ahead of time, even if it is an item that you may not need until the end – it might not be available then.  If you must rent equipment, make sure you reserve it ahead of time.

  • Failing to anticipate challenges and obstacles in project completion.


Solution: You don’t want to get into a project and find that you are missing required permits, that there is a tree in your way that has longer than expected roots, or that the materials you planned to use simply aren’t available at the time of year you need them.  To avoid unexpected problems, make your materials, tools, and equipment list as recommended and do the following:

    • Secure a plat diagram to verify your property line.
    • Make a drawing of your project that includes all the elements in the surrounding areas – tress, gardens, ponds, etc. so that you can see how all of them go together.
    • Review an almanac to get a picture of what you can expect from the weather in your area during the project.


  • Not thinking about the big picture.

Solution: Consider color, line, and placement. Does your deck, water feature, or walkway match your house and the existing landscape? Would a curved path be better than a straight one? And, is the spot you are thinking of planting those trees in the way of your view of a park, lake, or the sunset?   Answering these types of questions will help you to avoid this one of the top ten mistakes that DIY landscapers make.

  • Being too proud to seek advice from others.


Solution: Others who have completed like projects like yours are always happy to share their experiences.  The same goes for department heads in the various sections of your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, Maynard’s, and the mom/pop hardware stores. If the individual has knowledge that can help you, consider it part of your project research to engage them in conversation.

  • Not considering the need for utilities.


Solution: Plan for electrical outlets, gas lines, and water pipes before you actually needed them.  Adding these after the fact can be quite inconvenient.

  • Beginning the project without a budget.


DIY Landscaping MistakesSolution: Determine the amount you want to spend ahead of time.  Not doing this has caused many would-be do-it-yourselfers to have to abandon a project midway -- when the money runs out, sometimes there is no other option. When you are making your materials, tools, and equipment list, place prices next to each item.  Adjust you plans as needed.

  • Failing to plan for growth and maintenance.


Solution: Plants grow, families expand, and everything new gets old.  To avoid this one of the top ten mistakes that DYI landscapers make, find out how high your plants and trees will get – you don’t want your deck destroyed by your oak tree as it grows.  Also, consider this: will your new deck, pool, or playground be big enough for all of the children and grandchildren coming your way.  Regarding maintenance, consider what it will take to keep up the various elements of the landscape.  For example, if you are installing a pond in the Midwest, what will you do with your fish in the winter?  Will you install a heater or bring them inside?

  • They hold back on creativity


Solution: Part of the joy of doing it yourself is doing it your own way.  Infuse your project with your own personality.  Would you like to add a bird house in the middle of your pond?  Do it!  What about adding a hot tub to your deck?  If you have always wanted one, see if you can make it happen. And maybe a babbling brook would look nice circling your back yard. Don’t look to your neighbors’ yards to determine your limitations.  As long as what you want to do adds to the aesthetics of the neighborhood, no one will mind that you did things differently.

  • They forget about curb appeal


Solution: Many DIYs are guilty of this one of the top ten mistakes that new DYI landscapers make.   They forget that the house is the center piece, hiding it behind elements that only look nice when looking one way – from the house to the street.  To avoid this, use landscaping software to see what your project will look like from all points of view.  There are many free online programs that can be found through a simple keyword search.



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