Landscaper Secrets

Adam Wire
Written by Adam Wire
Updated April 1, 2016
yard with flowers and trees
A landscaper can make a yard look great with their yard design knowledge. (Photo courtesy of F.D. Richards)

Before you begin landscaping, understand the insider secrets.

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Landscaping can make your yard design look great, so if you aren't sure where to start, landscapers dig deep and plant the seeds.

Beware of design and garden landscape dangers

Don’t plant a garden if you have black walnut trees. They produce a toxic substance called juglone that is harmful to many plants. It can affect plants as far as 80 feet from the tree trunk. Tomatoes and peppers are two plants that are highly sensitive. 

Landscape plans are key

Homeowners should hire a landscape architect to design a project and another company to do the landscaping work. It enables the landscape architect to act as a third party.

People who are building a new home tend to think of the house first and the landscape last. A landscape architect will conduct a site analysis and can assist in determining optimum locations for the house utilities, view corridors and existing plants before anything is built.

"When people hear the term ‘landscape architect,’ they automatically think, ‘plant design person.’ That takes up about one-fifth of our profession at best," says Colin Hynes, owner of Elemental Designs in Narrangansett, Rhode Island. "We are taught to be knowledgeable about architecture, site engineering, horticulture, soil science, construction, artistry and planning."

Landscaping trees — but not too big

Save money by planting 1- to 2-inch diameter trees rather than 3- to 4-inch diameter trees. Small trees cost less to buy, move and install. They also tend to establish faster and are less prone to certain stress-related pests like borers and canker diseases during the first critical years following transplanting.

Think about patio design

Pay extra attention to anything you plant near a paver patio or deck. Larger trees have larger root structures and need to be planted at least 10 feet away from any hardscape. Some species develop roots close to the surface and will crack or damage any hard surface. Small trees are better for confined spaces.

Consider hiring offseason landscaping services

It’s not unheard of to do landscaping projects in the fall at reduced rates. Plants are on sale and business is generally slower for landscapers that time of year.

Sources: Hynes; Jim Zwack, director of technical services, Davey Tree Experts; Noah Anderson, CQC Landscaping, Romulus, Michigan; Mike LaFollette, senior editor, Angie’s List

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