If you’re planning to spruce up your yard or garden with a new landscape design, it’s a good idea to do your homework. Neighbors, friends and relatives may be eager to give you great landscaping tips, but the information may not be accurate. Take a look at some examples of good and bad landscaping advice that we’ve seen.
1. Weeding Your Lawn
Bad Advice – Just go to the home improvement store and get a strong weed killer that will get rid of weeds quickly. It doesn’t really matter what kind you get, just get the strongest one they have.
Good Advice – Strong chemical weed killers are dangerous. They can harm you, your children, your pets and your lawn. They may kill the weeds, but they can also kill the grass. The best way to control weeds is to keep your lawn thick and healthy. Dense grass will block the sunlight needed for weeds to grow. When all else fails, using organic lawn care can help minimize weeds without harming your lawn.
2. Getting Rid of Dandelions
Bad Advice – If you just have a few dandelions in the yard, cut them down when you mow the lawn or clip them off at the ground.
Good Advice – If done correctly, hand-weeding can be effective if there are only a few weeds in the lawn. Dandelions, a common weed, develop roots that grow deeply underground. Cutting them down with the lawnmower or snipping them off at ground level won’t help. They will come back unless you get the roots as well. For hand-weeding dandelions, work with moist soil and pull the entire plant out, including the root. Young plants are easier to pull up than mature plants. You can also use a dandelion digger that probes deeply into the soil to get the roots.
3. Repairing Dead Grass
Bad Advice – All you need to do is just water it a lot and the grass will turn green again.
Good Advice – If your lawn is more than 50 percent dead grass, it’s best to start over with fresh seed. Unfortunately, just watering won’t solve the problem. It’s best to find out first what caused the grass to die so it won’t happen again. To begin, take up the dead grass with a sod cutter. Use a rotary tiller to loosen the soil for new seed. Spread fresh seed over the entire area, then water it until moist. The top layer needs to stay moist, not wet, until the new seed germinates. If you’re not sure about the best type of grass for your Bergen County home, consult a professional landscaping company for help.
4. Fixing Bald Spots
Bad Advice – Pour gasoline on the bald spot, set it on fire, then put it out with water. Once it’s burned, get rid of the charred grass and water the area thoroughly. New grass will grow back in this spot.
Good Advice – First, pouring gasoline on any part of your lawn and setting it on fire is a dangerous plan. The fire can quickly spread to surrounding grass, trees and structures, including your house. Here’s a better idea: In late spring or early fall, rake the bald spot to remove any dead grass or debris. Sprinkle the area with new grass seed that matches your existing grass. Water gently each day for the next few weeks to keep the area moist. You should start to see new growth within a couple of weeks.
5. Getting Rid of Mushrooms
Bad Advice – Mushrooms from the yard can be used in the kitchen. They are free and safe to eat.
Good Advice – This landscaping advice is absolutely wrong and dangerous. Many varieties of mushroom are poisonous, and it’s very difficult to tell the good ones from the dangerous ones. Best advice – don’t ever eat them if you aren’t sure! The bad news for your lawn is that mushrooms are really hard to get rid of. You can pull them up to get them out of the lawn, but they are likely to come back if you don’t address the cause. Mushrooms are a fungi that thrive in standing water or damp areas, especially if there is decaying organic matter there. You need to correct any drainage problems and get rid of debris and decomposing matter to prevent future mushroom growth.
6. Pruning Trees
Bad Advice – Pruning a tree is easy if you have a ladder and chain saw. You don’t need to call a professional tree trimmer and pay a fortune to have your tree cut back.
Good Advice – You do need a ladder and chainsaw, but pruning a tree yourself can lead to disaster. If the tree is large, you won’t be able to reach the higher branches. Professionals have the proper equipment to reach the top of the tree. If the tree is small, you can reach the branches easier but there’s a risk of injury. Standing on a ladder with a running chainsaw is dangerous. You can lose your balance, fall off the ladder and injure yourself. If you do manage to trim the branches, you can’t always control where they will fall. For safety and best pruning results, call a professional tree trimmer or landscaping company in northern New Jersey.
7. Planting Flowers & Garden Design
Bad Advice – Planting flowers is a great way to add color to your landscape. Go to a home improvement store and buy some flowers in colors that you like.
Good Advice – Planting flowers actually is a great way to add color to your landscape, but you should not pick out flowers just because you like the color. All flowers and flowering plants thrive in different climate conditions such as sun, shade or both. If you plant flowers that love the sun in shady areas, they won’t do well. If you plant flowers that require shady, cool conditions in the sun, they will probably die. Before you rush to fill your landscape or garden with colorful flowers or flowering plants, find out their optimal growing conditions and get proper landscaping advice or service from a garden design company. Otherwise, you might be constantly replacing them.
8. Buying Mulch
Bad Advice – Wood chips are the same thing as mulch.
Good Advice – This landscaping advice is not correct. The difference between wood chips and mulch comes down to their benefits for your landscape. Woodchips are all the same size, which means they break down at the same time. Mulch is made up of a number of different things that all compost at different rates, which is ultimately best for your landscape. Some nurseries want you to think that wood or bark chips create a good mulch for lawn care, but they don’t. Many nurseries get paid to take left over wood chips or shredded bark from tree trimmers who are trying to avoid the high cost of dumping it into a landfill. If the nursery can sell it to you as mulch, they make twice as much money on the sale.
9. Landscape Design
Bad Advice – Create a great landscape design yourself with lots of trees, shrubs and flowers throughout the yard. Plant them wherever there is an empty spot in the yard.
Good Advice – Unless you have a good knowledge of trees, shrubs and flowers and a great eye for design, don’t even consider this one. Most homeowners don’t know enough about plants, and don’t have a good sense of proportion to tackle a landscape design plan. Planting trees that are too small, shrubs that will get too big or flowers that won’t last could cost you a lot of money. Your landscape design should fit the size and scale of your property and your house. Do yourself a favor and consult a professional for landscaping advice that will add the right proportions, aesthetics and value to your home.
10. Hiring a Landscape Company
Bad Advice – When hiring a professional landscape company, go with the cheapest price. They all do the same work, and you can get more done for less money.
Good Advice – We all wish this was true, but it’s bad advice. If you’re hiring a professional landscaper, you need to know what’s included in the price. If you get several quotes, it’s important to compare prices and what those prices include. Professional landscaping companies can provide different services and quality of work. Before you hire a professional, do your homework and compare landscaping advice. Cheaper is not always better. Most often, you get what you pay for.
Before landscaping your home, think about ideas and do some research. You might be able to do your own landscaping, but you may not get the best results. Talk to a professional landscaping company in the northern New Jersey area for landscaping advice to make sure you’re getting the right information.